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March 28, 2020
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Fairness Demands No Less

Published Dec. 04, 2019

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I’m writing to address the accusations and innuendos leveled at Renee Shippee, a member of the Old Saybrook Police Commission, by the police union and Police Chief Michael Spera, at a commission meeting [on Sept. 23]. As I understand the matter, they were aggrieved by the fact that Ms. Shippee went to the scene where her nephew was being arrested and used her cell phone to make a video tape of the proceedings. Although no details were provided, they also suggested that she interfered with officers on the scene and compromised their safety. Chief Spera also directed some personal criticisms against Ms. Shippee.

When afforded an opportunity to speak, Ms. Shippee acknowledged she had gone to the scene and videoed the ensuing events, including officers searching her nephew’s car. Ms. Shippee denied ever approaching the officers or her nephew, who was already confined in an officer’s patrol car.

Renee Shippee expressed a desire for a hearing, either public or in executive session, so all the commissioners could see her video and confirm for themselves that she had not interfered with the officers in any way. That has not happened.

I believe the police union should not inject itself into the political question of who serves on the commission. That is decided by the voters of Old Saybrook. Having elected Ms. Shippee, the union should abide by the voters’ choice.

I also believe Ms. Shippee deserves an opportunity to present her evidence to the commission, before the commission considers taking any action on the union’s or chief’s allegations. The basic principle of fairness demands no less, especially involving institutions dealing with law and justice.

Janis L. Esty
Old Saybrook

Janis Esty chairs the Democratic Town Committee.