Cheshire police chief’s order limits contact between newly promoted sergeant and female officer

Cheshire police chief’s order limits contact between newly promoted sergeant and female officer

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CHESHIRE — A recent police chief’s order limits contact between Jeff Falk, a town councilor and a newly promoted police sergeant, and a female employee of the department, including requiring that all one-on-one interactions be captured on Falk’s body camera. 

The restrictions represent a relaxation of an order that has been in place since an off-duty incident between the two in 2007, according to Police Chief Neil Dryfe. With Falk’s promotion, an order limiting contact written by former chief Michael Cruess needed revision since Falk could supervise the employee under certain circumstances.

Dryfe and Falk declined to comment on the nature of the 2007 incident. In response to a Freedom on Information Act request for the incident report, Dryfe said he didn’t believe it was subject to disclosure laws.

Falk was suspended without pay from Aug. 5 to Aug. 24, 2007, according to Cruess’ order. The former chief told Falk and his supervisors that the officer should “refrain from contact… other than routine radio and phone contact directly related to Falk’s duties.”

Falk earned the rank of sergeant this summer.

With Falk’s promotion, Dryfe said there may be times when Falk and the other employee would be on the same shift, making the previous order “not practical.”

In a letter to the female employee, Dryfe referenced her concern that Falk’s role as a sergeant would result in more contact between the two of them. In June, the employee, Dryfe, Falk, Personnel Director Lou Zullo and union attorney Liz Ditman met on the issue.

“Officer Falk has been directed to limit his personal contact with you,” Dryfe wrote. “The CPD is in the process of implementing body-worn cameras for sworn personnel. I expect that Officer Falk will wear his body camera at all times while inside police headquarters and will activate the camera… when the two of you may be the only people inside headquarters.”

Dryfe said he’s heard no complaints about either party’s actions from them or their supervisors. 

“In the seven years I’ve been here, no one has come to me with any complaints about either employee’s conduct related to that incident,” he said. “It has not been an issue.”

Restrictions on Falk’s contact hasn’t been a burden on the department, according to Dryfe.

Town officials had little say about Falk’s situation. Judy Villa, Democratic town chairwoman, said it’s the first she’s heard of the chiefs’ orders on Falk.

Patti Flynn-Harris, a Town Council Democrat, declined to speak on the issue.

“Town Council people, we don’t talk about personnel issues,” she said.

Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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