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Wednesday, December 13 News

Concerned residents push out police officer

WESTPORT — A New Haven Police detective set to become a Westport police officer this week appears to be reconsidering the move after allegations of misdeeds boiled up.

According to published reports, Daniel Conklin was accused tampering with evidence, and defying department policy in three instances while an officer in New Haven. He reportedly resigned as a detective with New Haven Police department effective Nov. 27. and was set to be sworn-in as an entry-level officer in Westport the same day.

However, Conklin rescinded his resignation from the New Haven Police department and is no longer leaving for Westport, David Hartman, public information officer for the New Haven Police department, confirmed.

In an email Thursday morning, Lt. Jillian Cabana wrote, “If you are calling with questions regarding Daniel Conklin, we had a meeting with him and are working on the situation. When I have more answers, I will get back to you.”

First Selectman Jim Marpe told the Westport News Thursday afternoon, “We have not received anything formal from him (Conklin) saying he’s withdrawing. Our expectation is that that’s what he’s doing.”

Marpe added that he does not know Conklin’s motives for rescinding his resignation from New Haven, but added, “We can conjecture that in some way things he was hearing caused him to rethink his decision.”

Thursday’s developments capped off an up and down week for Conklin and the Westport police.

As public sentiment against Conklin grew stronger, however, town officials postponed Conklin’s swearing-in. Then on Thursday, it was revealed Conklin rescinded his resignation from New Haven and early Friday morning, members of the Westport Police department met with Jim Marpe to discuss the situation.

A mix of Westport residents and Representative Town Meeting pushed back against Conklin’s move to Westport on town blogs and news sites.

District 4 RTM Representative Kristan Peters-Hamlin was chief among the online dissidents. In a statement to the Westport News, Hamlin said she was concerned about the choice of Conklin because of the New Haven police department’s findings of misconduct against Conklin as reported in the New Haven Independent.

Hamlin, who formerly worked as a US attorney in Washington D.C. and practiced law in Conn. and New York City, explained Conklin’s prior misconduct would discredit evidence he may collect as an officer in Westport and thus compromise future cases with which he works.

“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 police department will be greatly compromised,” Hamlin said.

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At first, Westport officials stood behind the decision to hire Conklin. In a press release dated Nov. 27, Chief of Police Foti Koskinas said, “We want to assure the public that Mr. Conklin has been property thoroughly vetted through an extensive background investigation process. We are confident in our decision to hire him as a Westport police officer.”

In the same statement, Marpe, added, “During the last 24 hours, I have received a significant numbers of phone calls and e-mails regarding the hiring of Daniel Conklin, and I appreciate the concerns residents have raised. After-in-depth review and discussion with Police Chief Foti Koskinas, I am confident that we have fully vetted Detective Conklin’s background and that we understand the circumstances surrounding those events that took place early in his career.”

Clearly, much has changed since Foti and Marpe’s initial statements and as of Thursday afternoon, Conklin will likely not be coming to Westport.

In September, according to the New Haven Register, a federal jury concluded Conklin did not violate a man’s civil rights during a 2016 arrest, clearing him of one set of allegations.

The civil lawsuit that brought Conklin to federal court stemmed from an incident Jan. 11, 2016, when Conklin was working an extra-duty job.

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