Thursday, September 27, 2012

Letter to the Editor: Haunting Past of Future Deputy & New Chief of MPD

 A reader has sent us the following past news articles regarding the history of Mayor Dan/Lisa's appointment of Officer McKenna to police chief and  the rumored  future appointment of current Captain Michael Timbro to Deputy Chief.  Mayor Drew recently suggested changes to the personnel job criteria to allow for an internal hire. Although the staff of the Insider has not formed an opinion of these appointments, and remains open minded; we offer the following article excerpts submitted by a reader posted for discussion purposes, and consideration by other readers. The Insider staff has received multiple letters and questions regarding the police chief/deputy situation and are aware this is of great concern to our readers. All  authors  of these letters have expressed the same fear of retaliation if public concern is raised; therefore, for their protection, we will not name any of our sources should they choose to come forward and seek our help.

The articles outline the relationship between Councilman and then Mayor Tom Serra ( a former Vinal Tech principal) and the officers, as well as the officers' pasts. Our source points out, which is evident in the news articles cited below, the Serracrat regime has changed the hiring criteria for police officers once before, to benefit officers McKenna and Timbro.

Readers following the police department situation may also be interested in our previous post outlining how wife of an officer voted to make personnel changes in thedepartment:
From the Hartford Courant, 11/5/05

"Hertler and Morron allege that Thornton, Brymer and Pessina took the side of Timbro following a December 2003 confrontation between the sergeant and the two officers. Timbro was returning home with his family that day when he was stopped at an emergency roadblock where Hertler and Morron were working. Police reports say Timbro was upset because he was denied access.

Hertler, Morron and other witnesses at the scene said Timbro became enraged and ran the roadblock. The officers filed a complaint against Timbro. When they failed to get a response from the police administration, the officers complained to city hall.

The confrontation eventually became the focus of a criminal probe, although Timbro was never charged. He was suspended for three days after an internal police investigation."


From the Hartford Courant, 4/6/1995

"Mayor Thomas J. Serra on Wednesday defended his hiring of three new city police officers, even though all of them failed to make a recommended hiring list provided by the police department after extensive background checks.

``They met the criteria and they all come from good, decent, long-standing Middletown families,'' Serra said. ``I am a residency person, and they met the qualifications.''

Serra's decision to hire the officers, despite the advice of police professionals, has prompted former political rival Maria Madsen Holzberg to call for sweeping reforms in the city's personnel policies and the mayor's hiring power.
The police department conducts background checks on all candidates who pass the appropriate written, agility, drug, polygraph and psychological tests. The candidates who pass the background checks are then ranked on a recommended hiring list.

``If background checks are done, the person who is making the appointment has to respect the work of the police department making those checks,'' said Holzberg, who lost to Serra in a Democratic primary for the mayor's seat two years ago.

Holzberg says the city needs to re-examine its hiring practices to make sure they are fair and to prevent possible nepotism. She also wants the mayor's power of appointment to be limited to top-ranked candidates and permit departures from such lists only in special cases.

The new officers -- William M. McKenna, Michael Timbro and Stephen Augeri -- were sworn in Monday by Serra.

City officials are not disclosing why the officers were not on the recommended list, calling it a private personnel matter. But a prior arrest of McKenna was raised at a common council meeting Monday.

McKenna was arrested in the fall of 1993 after getting into a fight with the manager of an Essex restaurant who was trying to remove him from the bar after he became unruly, police records show. The manager fell during the scuffle outside the restaurant and suffered a cut to his head that required 44 stitches, records show.

McKenna eventually was found guilty of creating a public disturbance, an infraction, and ordered to pay a $102 fine, court records show. Having an arrest record for an infraction does not preclude a candidate from becoming a city police officer.

McKenna could not be reached for comment Wednesday. His father, who answered the phone, had little to say. ``This is kind of hard for us at this time,'' said William P. McKenna, a vice principal at Xavier High School.

Serra said he has no plans to reconsider the hirings. He said the men are all good, qualified candidates.

McKenna reportedly saved a man who might have drowned in the Connecticut River in 1991 near Harbor Park. Augeri is a Westfield volunteer firefighter and was a student of Serra's when he taught at Vinal Regional Vocational-Technical School. Timbro is the son of businessman and former Republican councilman Sebastian Timbro.

Serra said he was surprised by the furor over the latest hirings. He said he also selected someone who was not on a recommended list when he promoted nine officers to sergeants and lieutenants last month. He would not say which candidate was not on the list."


  1. Aren't there better cops who don't have arrest records and documented anger management issues that would make a better chief and deputy chief?

  2. No wonder. Son of a former councilman and the other the son of a Xavier principal. Neither fit for the position but, will do things the Middletown way. Change the rules to fit the person they want. Shame on all who support this. The mayor will never be voted in again. Serra's time on the council is ticking away. So are they new phonies that refuse to step up and stand up for what's right on that council. I hope we have better people to vote for come election time.
    Look at today's Middletown press. Another promotion of a non Middletown resident. No other employee from Middletown? How about the last sergeant promotions? Any Middletown residence officers? That come from "good middletown familes" aka political connected and from upper class families. Now McKenna wants promotions from within and Middletown officers? His last several haven't been from "within" not really anyway. Of course Middletown officers are promoted from within. You can't promote a Cromwell officer or a trooper to a Middletown opening. Keep trying to fool people with this farce. Like one post I read said, Middletown, the only PD going backwards .

  3. Why should someone who couldn't qualify get two free passes? Oh tight he is Tom Serra's boy. Wondering what he knows we aren't supposed to.

  4. Wow! I thought we were well past the "good all boy" days when Carl Fortuna headed the "Personnel" Dept and hand picked Police Officers based on ethnicity and family ties, regardless of what they scored on the written "exam".

  5. To anonymous @ 4:12am. Far from it. It's worse now more then ever. Far worse. Mark my words. Just wait. Time tells all. In the old days when someone was given a push, sometimes they deserved it and the ones who recieved a chance where great full and pushed hard to prove their worth. Now it's full of favor after favor because they are all high ranking officials with a lot to hide and a lot to lose. That's a potent cocktail with a recipe for disaster.

  6. Patronage is alive and well in Middletown, spearheaded by the current personnel director.

    Case in point, the only person to "pass" the most recent written exam, and be sent to the police academy was none other than a relative of good ole Phil Pessina.


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