UPDATED: Investigation of police commissioner continues
The chairman of the Police Commission is under investigation for an incident in which he allegedly attempted to intimidate a Bridgeport resident, then harassed him at his place of work in Trumbull.
The Police Commission is a town commission, appointed by the first selectman, that oversees the Police Department.
According to a police report, a 33-year-old man was riding his bicycle on Blackhouse Road August 19 when his bike collided with a vehicle driven by Trumbull Police Commission Chairman Roger McGovern, 75. About a week later the cyclist told police that he was riding on Madison Avenue near his home when he saw McGovern driving the other way. McGovern, according to the man, turned around, passed the cyclist and pulled into a driveway in his path, forcing him to stop the bike.
The complainant told police that McGovern and two other men then got out of the vehicle and “surrounded” him before McGovern asked for $2,600 to repair damage to his vehicle. The complainant reportedly told the men that he worked at Stop & Shop and did not have that kind of money. McGovern then allegedly showed the complainant a badge of some sort and stated he was a law enforcement officer, and that the complainant needed to pay him. There was no direct threat, according to the report, but the complainant said he felt intimidated by the presence of the three men.
About a week later McGovern went to Stop & Shop on Quality Street and confronted the complainant again, telling him he needed to come up with the money. The complainant repeated that he didn’t have it and McGovern should go through his insurance. McGovern said he was unwilling to do that because his rates would increase or he would be dropped from his policy because of his age, the complainant said, according to the report. McGovern told the complainant to get a cash advance on a credit card or borrow the money, then left, according to the report.
A few days later McGovern again went to Stop & Shop, but was told by the manager that the complainant was not working at that time. McGovern allegedly asked for the complainant’s schedule, which the manager refused to provide. The manager then told the complainant that if McGovern approached him again to call the police.
A few days later, on Sept. 9, McGovern again went to the store looking for payment. The complainant told him he was going to call the police, to which McGovern allegedly replied “I am the police” and left.
The Trumbull police administration contacted McGovern and told him to cease all interaction with the complainant and go through the proper channels to recoup any money for damage from the collision. The complainant was told to contact Bridgeport police if McGovern went to his home or Trumbull police if he came to his workplace.
Police Chief Michael Lombardo said the incident had been brought to his attention due to McGovern’s position on the Police Commission. An earlier version of this story stated that the investigation was closed and there would be no further action. Lombardo clarified that the investigation was continuing, but that the officer initially assigned to take the complaint had completed his work on the case and would not be taking further action.
“The Police Commission oversees the Police Department, and ultimately makes decisions that can affect the livelihood of personnel,” Lombardo said. “So when there are allegations against someone like [McGovern] it gets sent up the chain of command, and ultimately lands on my desk. In this case, the officer took a statement from the complainant, then handed it off to his supervisor.”
Since the initial report was closed, Lombardo said police have taken a statement from McGovern, and are also reviewing video footage from the store.
“The department is proceeding with this investigation, and I hope to have a final report shortly,” Lombardo said.
McGovern did not return a message seeking comment left on his cell phone.