Ansonia extends chief’s contract
Joanne M. Pelton, Naugatuck Valley Bureau     July 17, 2000

ANSONIA — Police Chief James McGrath will have to wait at least another six months before he can retire.

The Board of Aldermen extended McGrath’s contract for up to six months last week, until a court injunction over the chief’s job is settled. 

Last Thursday the board was forced to halt the appointment of Sgt. Kevin Hale as police chief after legal action for a temporary injunction was filed in Superior Court in Milford. 

Lt. Michael Abbels, who is second in command in the department, is seeking the injunction to stop the board from naming Hale to replace McGrath, who was supposed to retire Friday.The issue will be heard today at 10 a.m. in Superior Court in Derby.Abbels is seeking more than $15,000 in damages. The hearing was supposed to take place last Monday, but was postponed due to the death of Abbels’ mother. 

Shelton Attorney Francis Teodosio, who is representing the city, said the aldermen were asked to extend McGrath’s contract pending the outcome of the court case. He declined to comment on whether McGrath would step down earlier than six months if the court case were resolved before then. 

McGrath, 74, did not return phone calls. By remaining as chief, he will continue to be the oldest working police chief in Connecticut. He’s been on the job for 19 years. 

Abbels claims he was passed over for the job even though he has more experience than Hale, who has been on the squad for 10 years. 

Abbels, a 20-year police veteran, said the qualifications for the chief’s job were changed in May to make way for Hale. 

According to the complaint, prior to Hale being nominated for the job by Mayor James Della Volpe, the requirements for chief included seven years of administrative experience. 

The complaint said when McGrath announced his retirement in May, the Board of Aldermen changed the job requirements so only three years of administrative work were required. 

Milford Attorney William Barnes said Abbels wants the court to force the aldermen to choose a chief according to the original qualifications. 

Hale, 37, who declined comment, has served as a youth officer, patrol officer and recently as an administrative sergeant. 

Della Volpe could not be reached for comment.