Seymour Police Chief’s Hiring Judgment Questioned

April 6, 2011

Valley Independent Sentinel

BY Tony Spinelli | APR 6, 2011 9:28 PM

Public employee Bailey Cook on a public sidewalk outside the LoPresti School.

Police Chief Michael Metzler used “poor judgment” in hiring a retired police detective with a checkered professional past to work as a crossing guard outside the Anna LoPresti School, First Selectman Paul Roy said Wednesday.

Roy said he had a private meeting with Metzler recently and told the chief “he should have made a different decision” in hiring retired Detective Bailey Cook. The chief, through a spokesman, is sticking with his decision.

The Connecticut Post reported earlier this month that Metzler hired Cook to be a crossing guard at the school.

In a civil lawsuit, Bailey — and the Town of Seymour — were found negligent in the death of three men after a car crash in 2001. Bailey, off-duty at the time, had been drinking with the three men before they crashed on Route 8.

Before the crash Bailey had given them a Seymour Police Department business card that allegedly read, “Don’t **** with my boys.”

It was meant to be a “get out of jail free card” according to the Bridgeport law firm of Tremont and Sheldon, who represented one of the victim’s families. Read the law firm’s account of the case here.

The families were awarded a $6.3 million settlement.

Cook also has three misdemeanor criminal convictions on his record, according to online court records.

He was arrested by Ansonia police in 2001 and found guilty of two counts of interfering with police/resisting arrest.

He was also charged in 2002 by state police with interfering/resisting arrest.

He received three years probation in those cases.

Cook will work as a part-time crossing guard through the end of the year, said Lt. Paul Satkowski, a spokesman for the department.

Roy said the chief’s decision did not sit well with him. There is nothing he can do about it because hiring a crossing guard “is the chief’s call.”

“I think it’s a matter of poor judgment,” Roy said.

Jobs like crossing guards are supposed to be advertised, but it was not clear if this particular position had been advertised. Roy said the chief told him Cook was the only person available for the job.

“If they have a list generated, they don’t need to advertise,” Roy said of the hiring process for Cook.

Lucille McConologue, a member of the Seymour Police Commission, told the Valley Indy she had a private conversation with the chief about Cook’s hiring. She did not want to disclose what she told him.

“The only thing I can say is it’s a decision by the chief and he has to live with it,” McConologue said.

Cook, interviewed briefly at his work post, threatened to file a lawsuit if the Valley Indy took his photo.

He referred questions to the chief. “He’s the one who put me here,” Cook said.

Metzler did not return several telephone calls seeking comment.

School officials did not return telephone calls.

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