Police Chief Michael Kehoe said May 16 that Lieutenant George Sinko, 49, who served as a town police officer for nearly 25 years, had submitted his letter of retirement from the police department, effectively resigning from the organization on May 14.
Chief Kehoe declined to disclose the contents of the departure letter, which Mr Sinko submitted, saying that the matter would be reviewed by the five-member Police Commission when it next meets on June 3.
Before his departure, Mr Sinko had been on administrative leave with pay in connection with a police investigation into an incident that occurred on April 7 at Land’s End Cemetery at 66 Hawleyville Road (Route 25) in Hawleyville. The old graveyard is located near the Brookfield town line.
Mr Sinko, who was the third in command at the police department, was the agency’s public information officer. In that role, he served as the department’s spokesman on major investigations including the 12/14 shooting incident at Sandy Hook School, the police investigation into the murder of Elizabeth Heath, and bank robberies, among other major crimes.
Asked whether any charges would be filed against Mr Sinko as a result of the police investigation into the Hawleyville graveyard incident, Chief Kehoe said no charges are anticipated or planned.
According to a police report on that incident, at about 1:30 pm on April 7, while he was on duty, Lt Sinko, who was driving an unmarked town-owned 2005 Dodge Durango SUV police vehicle, attempted a parking maneuver and in doing so backed into a three-foot-tall masonry pillar in the cemetery.
The collision caused approximately $2,000 in body damage to the SUV, police have said.
Police have never provided any reason why they conducted a lengthy investigation into the motor vehicle accident.
Chief Kehoe said in April that he placed Mr Sinko on administrative leave as part of an internal affairs probe into the graveyard accident. That probe began on April 10.
The police chief declined to discuss Mr Sinko’s reasons for leaving the police department.
Asked about the reason for his departure, Mr Sinko said May 20, “It’s been a tough year and a half” in reference to the 12/14 shooting incident and its aftermath.
“It’s changed a lot of us,” he said.
“It’s just the right time for me [to leave],” he added.
“I wanted to take some time to enjoy my family … I want to start looking at some opportunities,” he said.
Mr Sinko said he has been thinking about retiring from the police department for a long time.
“It’s been a great career there ... I’ve spent almost half my life there,” he said. “You meet a lot of great people,” he said.
Asked whether the incident at the cemetery influenced his decision to leave the police department, Mr Sinko responded that the incident was “a small thing.”
“The accident was a minor thing,” Mr Sinko said.
Patrol Operations Commander
As a member of the police department’s command staff, Mr Sinko served as the agency’s patrol operations commander.
With Mr Sinko’s departure, the organization now has a vacancy for a lieutenant to oversee patrol division operations.
After joining the police department in October 1989 and after his municipal police academy training, Mr Sinko started work as a patrolman. He then worked for the Statewide Narcotics Task Force. He later became the police department’s youth officer, after which he became a patrol sergeant.
Ms Sinko later worked as a detective sergeant. He became the department’s administrative lieutenant in 2002, and was later assigned to oversee the patrol/operations division.
Mr Sinko attended the FBI National Academy for law enforcement management training in 2012, an opportunity that is rarely available to town police officers.
Mr Sinko’s resignation marks the fifth departure of an officer from the police department this year. Earlier this month, patrol officer and motorcycle-based traffic enforcement specialist Steve Ketchum submitted his retirement notice after 25 years of service.
Patrol Officer Joseph Michael recently took a position with Danbury Police Department.
Early this year, sergeants Darlene Froehlich and John Cole also left town police service after long careers.
The five departures leave the police department with one lieutenant’s vacancy and one sergeant’s vacancy. When considering that the vacant lieutenant’s post likely would be filled by a current sergeant, there would then be two sergeants’ vacancies to fill.
The police department is authorized to have up to 45 members.