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Former police chief sues New Milford over dismissal

April 1, 2019 GMT

NEW MILFORD — The former police chief is suing the town and Mayor Pete Bass, claiming his contract was not renewed last summer because he reported possible criminal activity about a high-ranking officer.

Shawn Boyne served as police chief for eight years and his departure was shrouded in mystery for a bit. Few details were given by town officials in July when Boyne learned his four-year contract would not be renewed last October.

Bass could not be reached for comment Monday.

Boyne claims in a complaint filed last month that he had received praise for his performance so far and assurances in the beginning of 2018 that he would get a contract renewal. He even met with Bass in May to discuss his salary and how long he would want to be the chief, according to the lawsuit.

But Boyne claims this changed in June and July when he learned of allegations that Lt. Larry Ash, the department’s public information officer, had “engaged in criminal misconduct.” Boyne placed Ash on administrative leave, pending an investigation, according to the lawsuit.

In July, Boyne “became aware of significant additional and credible allegations concerning Lt. Ash,” the lawsuit states. “On or about July 9, 2018, Plaintiff informed Bass of the new allegations against Lt. Ash. Bass criticized Plaintiff for having forwarded information to prosecutorial authorities and expressed his dismay and displeasure with Plaintiff.”

It was after this interaction that the mayor changed his tune on keeping Boyne on, the former chief claims in the lawsuit. Boyne said he was told 10 days after he reported the investigation to Bass that his contract would not be renewed and that Bass wanted a police chief who lived in town, yet the job description did not have that qualification in the job posting, according to the lawsuit.

The allegations against Ash have not been shared publicly but he was reinstated in January after the investigation determined he didn’t do anything wrong.

Ash could not be reached for comment Monday.

“The Defendants declined to extend and renew Plaintiff’s employment agreement in bad faith, based upon Bass’s desire to protect Lt. Ash, and other targets of investigation,” according to the lawsuit.

Boyne also claims that he was told his contract wouldn’t be renewed too late for him to get another job.