Nick Ellis Reinstated as Chairman of Police Commission, Police Union Files Complaint

Nick Ellis Reinstated as Chairman of Police Commission, Police Union Files Complaint

On June 17 it was reported that Nick Ellis stepped down as chairman of the police commission on June 15. (See News Times article) but did remain on the panel. Chris McCollam has been serving as the elected chairman since June 15.

According to the minutes of the June 15, 2011 police commission meeting, Sgt. Detective James Wright requested a formal investigation on the chairman of the police commission Nick Ellis which led to his temporary removal, as reported by the News Times.

According to the minutes of the July 28, 2011 police commission meeting, Ellis said: “Commissioner Ellis stated he was “intimidated” and “insulted” by the mob atmosphere created by the Police Union at this meeting and stated further that he did not nor does he intend to resign.”

The President of the Bethel Police Union Detective George Bryce said the union is filing a complaint against Ellis regarding his “inappropriate behavior” and that is why they called for his resignation.

In a July 19, 2011 letter to the First Selectman, the Police Union stated their “growing concern throughout the Bethel Police Department over the actions and behavior of Commissioner Nick Ellis.”

The letter stated: “Commissioner Ellis has repeatedly engaged in conduct that is outside his scope of his official capacity as police commissioner and has behaved in a manner that could have serious ramifications on the operations of the Bethel Police Department.”

The letter continued: “Commissioner Ellis has created a hostile work environment that is tantamount to sexual harassment.”  The harassment accusation stems from accusations from the Police Union that Ellis allegedly showed a female police employee black and white photos of himself engaging in inappropriate activities with strippers at a party.

The letter stated: “At least one of the female employees reduced her discontent with his actions to writing and submitted it to the police administration who has still failed to act on the complaint or notify the First Selectman’s office.”

First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker told Bethel Buzz in a phone interview last week: “If the police officer was offended by the photos Ellis showed her, she would have field a complaint.  There was no official complaint filed in Human Resources with Phyllis Kansky.”

According to Detective Bryce the chain of command goes up within their ranks and that it is the responsibility of the chief of police to make the town aware of the complaint.

Detective Bryce said the First Selectman was made aware of the complaint and has not done anything about it.

“The First Selectman has been made aware of a complaint. What has he done about it? Who is holding elected officials accountable for their behavior? There needs to be checks and balances,” Bryce said.

Bryce said the town’s non-action regarding the alleged inappropriate activities Ellis engaged in is sending people the wrong message.

“So if you’re an elected official all bets are off? How can you have a chairman creating an embarrassing , hostile work environment and it is just tolerated?”

The First Selectman had no further comment on the accusations.

While Chief of Police Jeffrey Finch had no comment on the union’s complaint, he did state that  as of July 28, 2011 Nick Ellis is officially reinstated as the chairman of the police commission.

“The Town Attorney [Martin Lawlor] was there [at the meeting] and he reviewed the minutes from the last meeting, along with personal conversations, and said that Ellis did officially relinquish his seat, but he did not do so in the proper fashion,” Finch said.

Police Commissioner Nick Ellis could not be reached for comment as of this posting, but was quoted in the meeting minutes as saying, “Though admittedly “not polished,” Commissioner Ellis stated his belief that he is doing things for the “right reasons.””

Detective Bryce said: “What bothers me is that politics is taking priority over doing what’s right. It is very clear to me that the First Selectman is taking a hands-off approach and it is clear that is what the motivation that’s being this.”

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Posted on August 2, 2011, in Police. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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