Pubdate: Tue, 18 Jan 2005
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2005, New Haven Register
Contact:  http://www.zwire.com/site/news.asp?brd=1281
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/292
Author: William Kaempffer, Register Staff

POLICE CHIEF SHAKES UP NEW HAVEN DRUG UNIT

NEW HAVEN -- The police chief has transferred the head of the Police 
Department's narcotics unit and suspended three officers once assigned to 
the unit.

Police Chief Francisco Ortiz Jr. on Friday ordered the transfer of Lt.

William White, sending him back to Drug Enforcement Administration task force.

Ortiz privately had blamed White and the unit for a number of embarrassing 
incidents, including several police shootings, but White supporters say the 
37-year veteran was a scapegoat to political pressure.

His supporters say Ortiz didn't even give White the courtesy of personally 
informing him about his transfer.

The three officers who were suspended were Jeff Suchy, Scott Durkin and 
Jason Minardi.

Minardi received a five-day suspension for shooting at a vehicle that was 
dragging another plainclothes officer April 29, 2004. The disciplinary 
write-up questioned the tactics used, and Ortiz stated that the suspension 
was designed to send a "message" to Minardi and other officers.

Ortiz was unavailable for comment Monday.

The suspension drew a strong response from the union, which said Ortiz 
might need "leadership lessons."

"Send a message so maybe people won't pull their weapons out?" said Sgt.

Louis Cavalier, the union president.

"What this chief is basically saying, 'I as chief in my job have failed to 
train you adequately.' "

The suspensions of Suchy and Durkin, meanwhile, stemmed from errors with 
reports that were caught by prosecutors.

In the end, Suchy was suspended without pay for two days and Durkin for one.

"They're good cops. The chief, in these types of cases, should have given 
the officers the benefit of the doubt.

There was nothing intentional," he said.

"It's not like someone falsified a police document."

The internal affairs cases revolved around two incidents. In one, Suchy 
named an incorrect location for surveillance that led to an arrest. The 
problem was caught by a prosecutor and attributed to sloppiness.

The second incident stemmed from a report that Suchy and Durkin never wrote.

During a narcotics investigation, the two pulled over a vehicle they 
believed was used in a drug deal, while other officers targeted a second car.

Suchy and Durkin searched the vehicle and its occupants and, finding no 
drugs, let them go without writing a report.

The lack of report later caused problems in court.

One of the cases was dismissed because of the errors, officials said.

After the internal affairs case began, members of the narcotics division 
said immense pressure to make large numbers of drug arrests prompted them 
to spend more time in the field and less time working on reports.

Minardi, Suchy and Durkin all were assigned to the street interdiction team 
of the narcotics unit at the time of the incidents.
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