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Ansonia officer under investigation

Connecticut Post,
BYLINE: Michael P. Mayko,

Ansonia, CT

ANSONIA -- A city police officer is under investigation for the possible mishandling or theft of painkillers seized in local drug arrests and kept in the department's evidence room.

State Police, at the request of Ansonia Police Chief Kevin Hale, arrived at the city's police station Thursday to begin an investigation into the incident, which came to light earlier this week. The officer under suspicion, whose name was not released by the department, has been taken off the street and placed on medical leave, according to sources.

On Thursday night, a State Police Major Crime Squad van was set up in the parking area behind the gated station. Bright lights illuminated the area around Elm Street. An investigator was seated at a desk outside the station, logging evidence.

The investigation has rocked the 44-member department, and Mayor James DellaVolpe, a lifelong city resident, said it upset him.

"This is obviously disappointing," said DellaVolpe, who interrupted his participation in a Historical Commission meeting to discuss the matter. "We hold our officers to a high standard."

DellaVolpe assured residents that the possible misconduct does not indicate a widespread problem in the Police Department.

"We wanted to be proactive, both procedurally and properly, so Chief Hale contacted the state police," the mayor said. "I have full confidence in our department."

Across the street from City Hall, David Cassetti, the Republican candidate for mayor, was conducting a campaign strategy session with his supporters.

"My understanding is that it is limited to this one officer who was taken off the street," Cassetti said of the state police intervention. "I believe the chief is handling this properly and correctly."

In a statement released Thursday, Hale confirmed that he requested state police help to conduct an independent "criminal investigation." He also said an internal-affairs investigation is being conducted to determine whether departmental rules were violated.

"We'll have to wait until the final outcome to determine what, if any disciplinary action will be taken," DellaVolpe said.

He said he did not know what impact the matter might have on pending criminal cases.

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