NEW MILFORD -- One of the town’s top cops is at the center of an internal police investigation and has been placed on administrative leave.
Mayor Peter Bass confirmed Wednesday that Lt. Larry Ash has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which stemmed from a complaint received recently by the police department.
Bass declined to comment on the nature of the complaint or the investigation itself other than to say it was received through the department’s tip line. While State Police confirmed that they are assisting in the inquiry, Bass declined to say if the investigation is criminal in nature.
“Unfortunately, and I mean unfortunately, I can’t comment on that while the investigation is pending,” he said.
Ash has been a police officer for 31 years; he followed in the footsteps of his own father, Robert, a decorated, 17-year department detective. Larry Ash is the department’s spokesman and media liaison.
The investigation comes as Bass is in the process of “reorganizing” the department to make it more community friendly, he said.
The mayor confirmed last month that Chief Shawn Boyne’s contract was not renewed as part of the effort. Boyne is staying on with the department until his existing contract expires in October.
“Right now we are assessing candidates for the chief’s position and I’ve brought in some (law enforcement) people to help facilitate that,” he said. “I’m looking to have a more community focused and community centered based operation where its more hands on.”
He declined to comment further on the nature of the reorganization or how the department could be structured in the future.
Members of the Town Council are also apparently in the dark, both about the investigation and Bass’ new vision for the department.
“The mayor hasn’t told the town council what directions he wants to take the department,” said council member Peter Mullen, who was also surprised earlier this week to learn of the investigation surrounding Ash.
Mullen said he hopes the issue comes up for discussion during the council’s meeting next week.
“I’m not too concerned at this point, but I’d like to have more information about why the chief is leaving and now our second in command isn’t there,” he said.
Bass said that despite the impact on the department’s leadership team -- only Lt. Jeffery Covello who joined the department two years ago is unscathed - he still has the utmost confidence in the department’s ability to protect the public.
“We have a very dedicated staff with a lot of experience and I feel very confident they will continue to perform well while we look to reorganize the department,” he said.
Boyne and Ash could not be reached for comment.