Breaking News: McGovern quits Police Commission
UPDATED 4:12 p.m. - Police Commission Chairman Roger McGovern has resigned from the board, just days before he was scheduled to go before the Ethics Commission. McGovern had been referred to the Ethics Commission by his fellow Police Commission members due to his actions after a minor traffic accident in August. The commission had planned a public hearing for Saturday.
McGovern submitted his resignation in a one-sentence letter dated January 1 but received by First Selectman Tim Herbst this morning. In the letter, McGovern wrote simply, “Please accept my retirement from Board of Police Commission of the Town of Trumbull effective immediately.”
Herbst said he was glad the town would be able to move on.
“I am glad we can finally put this matter behind us and focus on the good work of the Trumbull Police Department,” Herbst said.
Herbst also thanked the Ethics Commission and Chairman Thomas White, and the police officers who conducted the investigation into McGovern’s actions.
“It is unfortunate that the Ethics Commission’s time and resources were utilized for a period of several months only to receive this resignation letter before the public hearing scheduled for this Saturday,” Herbst said. “Everyone should know that we have an Ethics Commission that takes their duty very seriously.”
It remains unclear though exactly what effect McGovern's resignation will have on the complaint against him. Though Saturday's hearing has been canceled, the commission rescheduled the topic for January 21.
Ethics Commission Chairman Thomas Lee said the commission would meet before January 21 to determine how to proceed.
The entire series of events began with an August 19 traffic incident. Bernardino Nieva, an employee at the Stop & Shop on Quality Street in Trumbull, was riding his bicycle on Route 111 at 7:54 a.m. headed to work when he attempted to turn right onto Blackhouse Road. Nieva said he fumbled with the brake handle on his bike, which caused him to swing wide on the turn. He then struck the driver’s side rear door of McGovern’s vehicle, which was stopped at the intersection, causing minor damage. McGovern was not injured and Nieva sustained a small scrape on his left elbow. The report from the incident indicates Nieva was at fault, but he was not issued a ticket or warning from the responding officer.
In his sworn statement on the incident, Nieva told Trumbull police that he and McGovern had waited for police to arrive so McGovern could get an official report for his insurance.
About a week later, Nieva said he was on his way to work again when McGovern drove past him, then made a U-turn and pulled into a driveway two houses down from where Nieva lives, blocking Nieva’s bike with his car. McGovern and two other men got out and “surrounded” Nieva, and McGovern asked for $2,600 to cover the repairs to his car. Nieva said he worked at Stop & Shop and didn’t have that kind of money and McGovern replied that he was not going to use his insurance because he would be “kicked off” his policy. McGovern then said he would go to see Nieva at work to talk about it more, according to the report.
When McGovern went to Stop & Shop later that day he told Nieva to borrow the money or get a credit card advance, Nieva said. When Nieva again stated he did not have the money to pay him, McGovern told him to talk to his family and “figure something out.”
It was during this conversation that Nieva said McGovern showed him a badge and said he was a law enforcement official. In his role as a member of the Police Commission, the town issued McGovern a badge.
A week later McGovern went to the store looking for Nieva, who was not working at the time, and allegedly demanded Nieva’s work schedule, which the store manager refused to provide. The manager advised Nieva to call the police if McGovern contacted him again, according to the report. When McGovern returned to the store September 9, Nieva told him he was going to call the police, and McGovern allegedly replied, “I am the police” and left.
Nieva reported the series of incidents to Trumbull Police September 9 and the department conducted a three-week investigation that included interviews and an examination of surveillance video from the store. At the conclusion of his report, Sgt. Michael Pires stated his intention to seek an arrest warrant.
Pires further noted that McGovern had not replied to his request for a statement, though he did deny showing his badge in a phone conversation with Chief Michael Lombardo.