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Westport Outcry Keeps Controversial Cop In New Haven

By Paul Bass

www.newhavenindependent.org

A New Haven detective with a history of allegedly abusing citizens’ rights and lying about it has decided to stay in town rather than leave for a job in Westport.

WestportNow.com Image
Conklin leaving federal court in New Haven after his civil trial. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Christopher Peake for Newhavenindependent.org

The detective, Daniel Conklin, had submitted a letter of resignation from the New Haven force effective Monday upon winning approval to become a cop in the town of Westport. He was scheduled to be sworn in this week to his new job.

Then an online news site in that town, called WestportNow, reprinted a New Haven Independent story about Conklin’s checkered history here, including internal affairs investigations into three separate incidents that concluded that Conklin had harassed and falsely arrested citizens and then offered untrue versions of events under oath.

The WestportNow posting ignited outrage among citizen commenters as well as elected officials. The town’s first selectman and police chief stood behind the hiring. But, according to a member of the Westport Representative Town Meeting, officials succeeded in getting the swearing-in delayed from Monday until this Friday while the incident was further investigated.

Today Conklin formally rescinded his letter of resignation from New Haven.

“He pulled the letter of resignation back,” confirmed Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso, who oversees the detective bureau. “He’s a fine detective. I met with him today and told him I’m happy to have him back.”

Conklin did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

One of the Westport officials fighting Conklin’s hiring was Representative Town Meeting member Kristan Peters-Hamlin.

Hamlin is a former assistant U.S. attorney in Washington D.C. She said she had concerns about the ability of criminal cases involving evidence collected by Conklin to stand up in court, given his public record of mishandling and fabricating evidence.

“There was a torrent of protests about Conklin being hired here, and we were told his swearing-in would be delayed,” Hamlin told the Independent.

“In light of the particular nature of the New Haven police department’s findings of misconduct against Conklin in these three cases (which involves, inter alia, mishandling and destruction of evidence) and the broad publication of those findings in New Haven and here, it will be difficult ever to have Conklin on the chain of custody in relation to evidence in a criminal matter. 

“He would be subject to impeachment with the prior findings of mishandling and destroying evidence; making ‘proof beyond a reasonable doubt’ quite difficult. As a consequence, if he cannot touch evidence in conjunction with his duties, his utility to the Westport police department would have been greatly compromised.”

Hamlin also pressed her arguments on a Westport blog called 06880.

“[I]f we recycle a cop with a troubled history in our community, then we may end up having the kind of problems that Fairfield had when they recycled the Norwalk police chief ‘s son back onto the narcotics squad after his first acts of misconduct, and then he was involved in theft of narcotics and was criminally prosecuted,” she wrote.

The New Haven police’s conclusions about Conklin’s misconduct were spelled out in files made available to the Independent under the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act.

Conklin denied the misconduct allegations. (Click HERE for a story detailing those incidents.) In one instance, investigators found, Conklin destroyed evidence on a bogus stop. In a second he harassed and arrested a man outside his home on trumped-up charges. He shoved and threatened to tow the “fxxxxxx car” of a “motherxxxxxx” fisherman who’d parked on a bridge in the third incident. He served a total of one day of suspension for those misdeeds.

At the time of Conklin’s promotion to detective, he was the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by an Edgewood man who claimed Conklin had arrested him and seized a cellphone he used to record his actions, because of a dispute over Conklin’s handling of a construction site traffic assignment.

Conklin denied the allegations. The subsequent trial included embarrassing revelations — such as the disappearance of key alleged evidence — but ended with a jury deciding not to reward damages.

This story and photo have been published with the permission of the New Haven Independent.

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