Login  /  Register  | 3 premium articles left before you must register.

Finizio ordered police vehicle away from New London polling place to avoid 'intimidation'

By Greg Smith

Publication: The Day

Published November 08. 2013 4:00AM
Union: Mayor used race without reason

New London - In a move he said was made to avoid any appearance of voter intimidation, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said he requested a police vehicle be moved away from its very visible location outside the high school polling place on election night.

The move was criticized by the police union this week, another example of the friction between the mayor and union leadership.

"The constant bashing of police officers by this mayor is incessant," according to a post-election update posted by the union's political director Chuck Flynn on the union's website.

"His latest episode was accusing officers on election night of voter intimidation against minorities who could potentially fear a visible police presence in the high school parking despite the fact the police department hired an officer overtime assignment for polling station visibility," the posting reads.

Finizio said he's aware of political tactics used in the past in which police officers were used to intimidate minority voters. He cited past cases in New Jersey where the strategy was used by Republicans.

Finizio said he was not accusing police of any impropriety, only that "visibility is a factor we consider to ensure we don't have an appearance of intimidation ... something that could detract from voter turnout."

Police typically have some presence around Election Day polling places to ensure public safety and manage traffic, he said. Prior to Election Day, however, Finizio said he spoke with Chief Margaret Ackley about keeping police presence discreet where possible.

"I want to make sure everyone going to the polls feels comfortable," Finizio said.

At the high school, prior to the end of voting, Finizio said he received word that a patrol vehicle was parked near the entrance of the school, which also happens to be situated in a voting district with a high minority population. He said he called the chief and asked that the vehicle be moved.

"There was no problem, but I felt this was potentially in violation of what I discussed earlier with the chief," he said. "I had concerns and the problem was addressed."

Local Union President Officer Todd Lynch said Finizio's actions serve to hinder, and not heal, race relations.

"The mayor is throwing a racist accusation at the police department. How is a police car intimidating minorities?" Lynch said. "He's using race when there was no problem at all."

Lynch said he thought it was problematic to have a mayor, who was campaigning for his party, directing police action on the night of the elections.

"Our superiors should direct police what the police should do, not the mayor who is involved in the election," Lynch said. "We have a chief. We have a deputy chief and command staff. The mayor should not be directing police operations."

g.smith@theday.com

News by Town

Most Recent Poll
As our children crash from Halloween candy overload, we look ahead to the next big holiday: Thanksgiving. What are you looking forward to seeing on your dining room table on the 4th Thursday of November?
Cranberry sauce: Whether it's the home made stuff containing actual cranberries or the reddish jelly shaped like the can it plopped out of, it reminds me of childhood.
9%
Turkey, of course: Turkey slathered in gravy. Turkey with cranberry sauce (see above). Turkey with mashed potatoes on it. Turkey in sandwiches the next day. All I care about is the golden bird.
81%
Latkes: For the first time in 125 years, Thanksgiving falls during Hanukkah so our table will be filled with the best food both holidays have to offer. Happy Thanksgivikkah!
5%
My Thanksgiving has been completely taken over by the ever-earlier Black Friday sales. My big meal will be looking more like a fast food burger in line outside of Best Buy than the traditional sit-down meals from days of ole.
5%
Number of votes: 736

No current items found

Popular on theday.com