Reaction mixed on resignation

Published: Saturday, May 2, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

OLD SAYBROOK — Residents and town officials expressed surprise this week at the announcement late Thursday that Police Chief Edmund Mosca, who is under investigation by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, would retire Oct. 16.

But Blumenthal said in a statement the retirement is “no surprise in light of my investigation’s conclusion and the terms of the resolution,” which he plans to release next week.

Blumenthal said that he has finished the investigation into Mosca’s use of money from a memorial fund and he is negotiating with Mosca to resolve the situation.

In a letter Thursday to the chairwoman of the Police Commission, Mosca, 70, said that he is retiring and is looking forward to spending more time with his family. The longest-serving police chief in the state, Mosca has been in his role for nearly 40 years, and with the Police Department for 48.

He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Prior to his retirement, Mosca will take accumulated vacation and personal days starting Friday, he said in his letter. While he is on leave, Deputy Chief Michael Spera will be in charge of the operations of the department, Police Commission Chairwoman Christina Burnham said.

The retirement announcement came at the end of Blumenthal’s more than yearlong investigation into Mosca’s use of what the chief called a “private fund” that he operated outside of the Police Department’s budget. Last year, the state Freedom of Information Commission ruled that the McMurray-Kirtland Memorial Fund’s records were public and ordered the town to release them.

The so-called “Mac Fund,” which was set up in 1975, was apparently used for a range of purposes, from meals and airfare for police personnel to office supplies and flagpoles.

The police union, C.O.P.S. Local 106, filed a federal lawsuit against Mosca for directing $64,000 left in a bequest to the Police Benevolent Association — the officers’ organization before they joined the national union — to the McMurray-Kirtland fund.

In February, U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall threw out the lawsuit. The judge dismissed the suit’s federal claims and “dismissed without prejudice (the five other claims) to filing in state court.”

Resident Mary Hansen, who filed the FOI request to get the Mac Fund documents, said she thought it was appropriate for the police chief to retire given the ongoing investigation.

“I think Chief Mosca knows that the office of the police chief has lost respect and credibility during the last 14 months,” she said.

Hansen added that she thinks the town should look outside the department for a new chief.

“I think that we just need a clean sweep,” she said. “I think we need some fresh air. I think that our guys in blue would benefit from a change in leadership and it would restore confidence on the part of the public in our Police Department.”

Police Commissioner Richard Metsack, who has criticized Mosca in the past, agreed.

“I knew Ed, I liked him, we got along pretty good, but I think it’s time for a change and if you stay in one place for too long things begin to stagnate,” Metsack said. “I think with this we can head in a new and different and hopefully a better direction.”

Burnham said that the Police Commission will likely meet next week or early the following week to discuss replacing Mosca. She added that she expects it will be a straightforward transition.

“We have a relatively small department — you know, we’re not a big city department — but our department is on the cutting edge of law enforcement,” Burnham said. “The chief has made sure that our department has kept up on the times and I think we have a very professional and competent department, and that’s in large part due to the chief and his efforts.”

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