Two Wallingford police officers written up after vehicle pursuits

Two Wallingford police officers written up after vehicle pursuits

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — A police officer served a suspension in December and another received a written warning in October after separate incidents of inappropriate vehicle pursuits.

According to records obtained by the Record-Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request, Officer Timothy Binkoski served a two-day suspension Dec. 17-18, while Officer Jeffrey Acheychek received a written warning after a vehicle pursuit in October. The Record-Journal routinely requests discipline records for municipal employees.

A union representative said both officers have excellent records overall and were disciplined appropriately. Acheychek and Binkoski could not be reached for comment.

On Nov. 22, 2019, Binkoski, a six-year Wallingford officer, pursued a vehicle suspected in thefts from unlocked cars, according to a letter of discipline dated Dec. 6, 2019.

Binkoski activated his lights but not siren, and terminated the pursuit when ordered.

As he drove away, Binkoski located two other officers and asked if they had seen the suspect vehicle. While there, the vehicle passed by, according to the letter.

Binkoski re-engaged in pursuit, proceeded onto the highway and followed the vehicle out of town. Binkoski then stopped the pursuit and returned to town.

He did not communicate by radio that he was in pursuit, violating policy, according to the letter.

On Dec. 5, 2019, he attended an informal hearing and indicated that he was “overzealous in (his) actions and had tunnel vision,” the letter stated. He also indicated he understood the liability of pursuits and took responsibility for his actions.

The letter states that the incident was “the most recent in a string of violations of a similar nature” and that Binkoski received further training and counseling, as well as reviewed the department policy on pursuits. Binkoski’s employee file does not reflect discipline for previous violations of the pursuit policy. He was written up in October 2019 and this month for tardiness, and in September for two instances of arriving for a bicycle patrol shift without the bike uniform.

Binkoski earns an hourly rate of pay of $37.65.

Vehicle pursuit, foot chase

Acheychek’s written warning stems from a vehicle pursuit on Oct. 19, 2019.

The five-year Wallingford officer observed a vehicle run through a stop sign, and activated his lights and siren as he attempted to conduct a traffic stop, according to the written warning dated Oct. 24.

The driver maintained vehicle speed and apparently ignored Acheychek, who continued the pursuit for almost a mile before the driver pulled over into a parking lot and fled on foot.

Acheychek failed to notify the shift commander of the situation, and the letter stated that the pursuit “should never have been initiated since the violation … was only an infraction.”

He also didn’t relay over the radio that he was in foot pursuit.

Acheychek’s employee file shows one prior instance of discipline, a written warning for unprofessional conduct after he used flippant language in an official incident report.

Acheychek earns $37.65 an hour. He ranked as one of the top 10 highest paid town employees in 2018 with an annual salary of $154,813 including overtime and private duty.

Chief, union rep weigh in

Acheychek and Binkoski are “dedicated employees with excellent records of service,” said Larry Dorman, spokesman for Local 1570, Council 4 AFSCME.

"They have been disciplined in an appropriate fashion and remain focused, as our union members do, on protecting and serving the people of Wallingford."

-Larry Dorman

“They have been disciplined in an appropriate fashion and remain focused, as our union members do, on protecting and serving the people of Wallingford," Dorman said by email.

Department rules state that vehicle pursuits are not to be initiated or continued to apprehend a person for an infraction, which is a violation payable with a fine, and that officers must call in a pursuit.

Police Chief William Wright said via email Tuesday that the department takes pursuits “very seriously” and that police personnel hold themselves “to the high standard that these serious incidents demand.”

“We are concerned for the safety of the community and equally the safety of our officers which is why there are such strict controls,” he said, adding that when officers don’t notify the shift commander of a pursuit, it removes the ability of the supervisor to take the appropriate measures.

Police are trained annually on pursuits and have a formal review of the policy twice each year, once during the review of “high priority” policies and then again during the officer’s annual evaluation, which occurs in January of each year, Wright said.


Twitter: @LCTakores

Read the police pursuit policy.