Wallingford police fired two officers in March

Wallingford police fired two officers in March

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — Two officers were fired from the Wallingford Police Department in March after separate Internal Affairs investigations determined the officers had violated departmental policies.

William Bugbee was fired March 1 after less than a year in the department. Jeffrey Acheychek was fired March 8 after almost 7 years.

Police Chief William Wright said this week that it’s the first time in his six years as chief that he has terminated anyone.

The Record-Journal accessed police and human resources records regarding the officers’ firings through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Although Bugbee and Acheychek were fired around the same time, their Internal Affairs cases were separate and the reasons for their termination were not related.

Wallingford police officers are represented by Council 4 AFSCME Local 1570, the Wallingford Police Union.

Sgt. Joseph Cafasso, union president, said in a statement that no union action was filed on behalf of Bugbee because his employment status at the time of his termination was probationary. 

He said that Acheychek is “awaiting completion of due process.”

The union filed a grievance for Acheychek after his employment termination.

Wright said via email Tuesday that he denied the grievance, and the union then moved to the next step — a hearing with town Human Resources Director Jim Hutt.

The hearing occurred a week ago, Wright said, and Hutt has yet to rule on the hearing.

Depending on Hutt's finding, the process can move to the state labor board or Human Resources can order the employee to be reinstated.

Attempts by the Record-Journal to reach Bugbee and Acheychek by phone were unsuccessful.

COLLECT system

Bugbee transferred to Wallingford in March 2020 after five years with the Hartford Police Department, Wright said.

In January, Wallingford Police Lt. Michael Colavolpe initiated an Internal Affairs investigation into Bugbee’s use of the Connecticut On-Line Law Enforcement Communications Teleprocessing (COLLECT) system.

COLLECT is a statewide computer database that contains records of motor vehicle and criminal histories. It’s accessible by law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in the course of their duties only.

There are strict rules about how COLLECT can be used, both at state and municipal levels.

According to Bugbee’s employment termination letter, he attended a hearing on Feb. 16 regarding the investigation into his conduct with Cafasso present.

During the hearing, Bugbee said he had been having marital problems with his wife. One of his concerns was whether his vehicles were registered and insured, so he accessed COLLECT to look up his own information.

The investigation report, prepared by Sgt. Brian Nowek, stated that an audit of COLLECT revealed Bugbee accessed the system to look up information for personal use on three dates.

On April 13, 2020, Bugbee ran a check on his own driver’s license, according to the report. On July 4, 2020, he ran a check on his own date of birth, license and vehicle registration, as well as the vehicle registration of his wife’s ex-husband. On October 14, 2020, he ran a check on his own vehicle registration.

He told police during the investigation that he believed he had seen his wife’s ex-husband driving in Wallingford, which prompted him to run the ex-husband’s information on July 4.

The ex-husband was contacted by police and said he had not been in Wallingford that day, according to the investigation report.

Connecticut State Police manages the COLLECT system. State police notified Wright March 1 that Bugbee’s permission to use COLLECT was suspended for one year.

Wright said that since Bugbee could not access the COLLECT system, he subsequently could not perform his job duties. For that reason, in addition to the gravity of the matter, Bugbee was fired, Wright said.

24 violations 

Acheychek joined the Wallingford police department in June 2014.

According to his employment termination letter, Acheychek attended a hearing March 4 with Cafasso and Officer Shawn Fairbrother regarding the Internal Affairs investigation into his conduct.

Cafasso and Fairbrother both spoke on Acheychek’s behalf, the letter stated, saying he was “an asset to the agency” and that Acheychek’s willingness to work through the issues, coupled with a period of suspension, “would fix the problem.”

The Internal Affairs investigation, prepared by Lt. Anthony DeMaio, examined eight cases Acheychek had worked on from May to November 2020 that were “insufficiently investigated,” the letter stated, including four thefts, an evading motor vehicle, a domestic call, a threat from an unwanted person and a harassment call.

Acheychek’s honesty while investigating some of the cases assigned to him was also called into question. The letter stated that Acheychek had indicated that he had completed certain tasks that actually had not been done.

According to the report, Acheychek was assigned to an evading motor vehicle case, in which a vehicle struck a parked car at On Track Karting, a go-kart racing center on Route 5, and then fled the scene.

The business provided police with surveillance camera video of the incident as well as a copy of the suspect’s driver’s license, which the business makes in order for customers to use the go-karts.

Acheychek stated that he called Assistant State's Attorney John Lion, who told him not to file the case in court, according to the report. When Lt. Cheryl Bradley called Lion, he said that he didn’t recall talking to Acheychek at all about the case.

Bradley, who recently retired, brought the discrepancies in the case to Wright’s attention.

A search of Acheychek’s locker and duty bag uncovered more than 100 items — several with direct relation to four of the eight cases examined in the Internal Affairs investigation — that were not entered into the reporting system properly or logged into evidence appropriately, according to the letter.

After reviewing the Internal Affairs investigation file on Acheychek, Wright compiled a list of 24 violations of police department orders, including seven violations for incompetence, five for insubordination, eight for neglect of duty and four for dishonesty.

During the March 4 hearing, Acheychek said he had been having a difficult time at home, working 16-hour days to support his family. He felt overwhelmed by his work responsibilities, but had not sought the assistance of a supervisor for help with his cases.

The letter said that the number of Acheychek’s transgressions, the lapses in his honesty and integrity, and the fact that the department can’t forward his cases to court led to his firing.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores

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