Voccola calls cop union disloyal
  Rick Scavetta, Register Staff     October 07, 2000

BRIDGEPORT ó Shelton Police Chief Robert Voccola painted a picture in court Friday of union members as rogue officers who spread disloyalty toward him within the department.

As examples, Voccola said the unionís Internet web site portrayed him as a friend of the Ku Klux Klan, and officers put his photograph in department urinals. He testified that he had given the photos to Lewis to publish in a union calendar. 

"I believe there is a pattern of activity," Welch said. "They destroy the ability of anyone to run this department." 

Testifying later in the day, Lewis did not deny the tactics that Voccola described. 

Lewis leaked to area newspapers that Capt. Joel Hurliman was investigating Voccolaís son, an officer who was accused of being involved in a scuffle in a Stratford diner. Voccolaís son, also named Robert, resigned in April, shortly after the incident. 

An officer speaking to a reporter compromises the integrity of an investigation, Voccola testified. 

In her crossexamination, Eldergill got Voccola to concede that the investigation into his son was never concluded. 

Eldergill contended that Voccola didnít allow the investigation to conclude because he didnít want information about his son to become public. 

Thatís why Lewis felt compelled to release information to the press, she said. 

Voccola denied the charge that he kept the investigation open, and repeated his contention that Lewis was in the wrong. 

"We have clearcut rules that prohibit (giving out information), for a variety of reasons," Voccola said. "They should have followed written directions and brought it to a supervisor." 

The attorneys will present final arguments on Oct. 26. 

Judge Janet C. Hall said she wants to make a decision on the case by November. 

Should Hall rule in favor of the union, she will preside over a jury to award damages. If the suit is dropped, Eldergill said she would pursue an appeal with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City.