Wed. Jun 1st, 2022

New London — New London police officer and local police union President Todd Lynch might be best known in New London for his outspoken criticism of local politicians and committee members deemed to be “anti-police.”

But on the eve of retirement, Lynch said that as much as he relishes controversy he’d also like to be remembered “as a pretty good cop” who dedicated 36 years to a career in law enforcement.

Lynch, 55, filed his retirement paperwork with the city on Wednesday. He will leave at the end of the month after 14 years as an officer in New London that followed a 20-year career with state police, where he retired as a sergeant and commander of the state police K-9 unit. During his career with state police, he also served as resident state trooper in East Lyme and Ledyard.

As to the timing of his retirement, Lynch said he is in the enviable position to now collect two pensions — one from state police and another from the city. He became eligible for a pension in New London once he turned 55. He has medical benefits for life, has a place in Florida and looks forward to spending more time with family and friends.

The decision to retire, Lynch said, is not related to the abrupt retirement of Chief Peter Reichard last week.

“This is by no means a spur of the moment decision,” Lynch said. “It’s just time to go. I’ve been planning this for over a year, waiting for things to line up.”

Lynch will be working at Filomena’s restaurant in Waterford, owned by former New London City Councilor Michael Buscetto.

Born and raised in New London and the son of Carol and the late David Lynch Sr. — a former New London police lieutenant — Lynch has been involved in law enforcement since he was a teenager when he started work as a special deputy sheriff at the New London courthouse.

He was hired by Connecticut State Police in 1987 and quickly became adept as a dog handler. He had his first police dog, Uriah, at Troop E in Montville when he was tapped to join a fugitive task force based out of Waterford. In 1995, he received a statewide award as a dog handler.

He was hired by the New London Police Department in 2007 and brought his K-9 Jasper with him.

“It was one of the best times in my career, being a dog handler in my hometown, coming back to my community,” Lynch said.

Lynch was a dog handler and trainer during much of his career here in New London. He has worked for the past three years in the vice and intelligence unit.

While in New London, Lynch was honored by the Connecticut Council of Police Unions as a Labor Leader of the Year, who credited Lynch with leading the union “through a tumultuous and often acrimonious relationship with the city leaders, helping to resolve labor disputes and lobbying for the department’s K-9 unit.”

Lynch has been president of the union since 2011 and often butted heads with former police Chief Margaret Ackley, publicly blaming her for low morale and an exodus of officers. He later filed a lawsuit against Ackley, alleging he was targeted for retaliation for things like the open letter in The Day that the department was in a “managerial crisis” with Ackley at the helm.

He additionally took aim at former Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio over the future of the K-9 unit at the department, which Finizio had attempted to cut in size. Finizio had at the time cited past complaints about police dog bite victims and statistics that showed the majority of victims were Black or Hispanic.

“The former chief and former mayor wanted nothing more than to have me gone,” Lynch said. “I’ve outlived them both.”

Lynch admits he’s never been one to shy away from controversy, as evidenced by his weekly appearances on a local conservative radio talk show hosted by Lee Elci. Lynch and the union have villainized city councilors who voted to remove the department’s armored military vehicle and repeal a police staffing ordinance.

Posts on the union’s website, another source of controversy, became so contentious that it led to six members of the police community relations committee to resign in April. The resigning members cited the union posts as attempts at bullying and intimidation.

“I wanted to give law enforcement a voice,” Lynch said. “Other people are worried about their own careers and don’t want undue attention. They don’t want to stand out. That’s not me. You can’t bully me. I was in a position to speak up and defend the people that otherwise wouldn’t be able to defend themselves. Do I enjoy that? Yes.”

A special committee appointed by the mayor earlier this year condemned the use of the website in its report of recommendations.

“It will be impossible for police to develop a trusting relationship with the community if this kind of behavior continues and becomes endemic to police culture in New London,” the report states.

New London police Sgt. Charles Flynn, vice president of the local police union, said Lynch was a fierce advocate for New London police officers and “never hid his feelings, especially when he was angry.”

“His bulldog tenacity secured fair contracts, better working conditions and effective representation working tirelessly for members,” Flynn said. ”As a cop he was also an exceptional police officer who made a difference every day he came to work solving many serious felony cases. It was an honor and privilege to work along side Todd …”

Acting police Chief Brian Wright said he has worked with Lynch since he came to the department and on occasion when Lynch was a dog handler with state police.

“He’s had a long and dedicated law enforcement career. He’s been at this his whole adult life,” Wright said. “We wish him well.”

g.smith@theday.com

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