Letter: Chief, commission violated FOI law – Monroe Courier

To the Editor:

Recently Monroe Chief of Police Salvatore and Chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners Villani were found guilty of violating the CT Freedom of Information Act. It was unanimously decided by a nine member judicial board in Hartford that both individuals had broken the law by not releasing public information concerning donated funds earmarked for gun safety.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy the Monroe Four Freedoms Project approached Chief Salvatore with the idea of using a Norman Rockwell painting “freedom from fear” to drive a fundraising campaign for firearm safety. This project was approved by both Salvatore and the Board of Police Commissioners before one dollar was ever raised. They said yes to the campaign and yes to a flyer which stated that donated funds would be available for Monroe Police to offer cash back to local residents turning in unwanted weapons. They said yes to the program and to the more than $7,000 that was raised and then they quickly went about the business of changing what was agreed upon.

Rather than working with the Four Freedoms Project, Chief Salvatore and the Board of Police Commissioners would instead employ politics and law breaking to advance their own agenda. Along the way the Commission would limit public partition and craft meeting minutes to support their own position. They would also break CT Sate Laws by denying access to public documents and by conducting secrete meetings to spend donated funds on programs that were never agreed to.

Neither I nor any of the other donors were ever anti-gun but rather were supporters of firearm safety. It was our desire to underline the fact that gun ownership is serious business and that safety is an absolute requirement.

Although the great majority of gun owners do in fact practice safety, there are still others that do not. In order to change those attitudes and build a safer community outreach is required. Here are some of the common sense ideas that our group offered and how they were received. Hold a press conference with ranking town officials to announce the availability of free gun locks and safety kits, Salvatore’s response; No. Use donated funds to provide rebates to town residents who purchase gun safes, Salvatore’s response; No. Use donated funds to provide cash back to Monroe residents who turn in unwanted weapons; Salvatore’s response; No.

So determined was Chief Salvatore to conduct business his way and only his way that he would violate the law and in doing so he would also dishonor his rank and office. In Monroe it seems it’s his way or the highway. Ultimately Salvatore’s wrong doing put us both on Route 84 heading East to Hartford, where the Freedom of Information Commission has already decided one case against him and the Town of Monroe with two other cases still pending.

Of the $7,000 raised, to date not a single dollar has been used to rebate the purchase of a gun safe or to be offered for any unwanted weapons turned in. How sad.

Steve Ballok, project coordinator

Monroe Four Freedoms