Chief Lynch settles in
When Wilton police reported that a 12-year-old girl was missing on May 18, new Chief John Lynch was out there with the rank-and-file officers looking for her.
The girl, a student from the Montessori School on Whipple Road, was found later in the day in Norwalk unharmed, but the event did something to show the character of Lynch, 53, who is marking his second month on the job next week.
“I’m still a street cop,” said Lynch, who has been with the department 32 years, and began his career right at the bottom, as a dispatcher.
Now he makes the executive decisions, and he still likes to wear a standard blue street uniform to work.
“I split it up between the uniform and the suits and sport jackets, the plainclothes,” Lynch said during an interview at his office, where an Irish shamrock to show his Celtic heritage and an award from the FBI training academy decorate his favorite bookshelf.
“If I’m going to a meeting of the chiefs of police, I wear a suit or a sport jacket,” said Lynch, who began the top brass job April 3.
“Time goes by fast,” he said, matter-of-factly.
Since April 3, there have been three promotions at the department. Two lieutenants became captains and one officer became a sergeant, the first female sergeant at the department.
Also since April 3, when Lynch was sworn in to office during a packed ceremony at Wilton Library’s Brubeck Room, he has hosted a public open house of the police station to show how it has become outgrown and that there is a need for a new, larger building.
That is one of the challenges his administration will face, he admits: spearheading the construction of a new headquarters.
Another challenge is to fill the department’s ranks. There are normally 45 officers from the top to the bottom, but that number is down to 43 since the retirements of former chief Robert Crosby and the records officer.
It will be a matter of making it work budget-wise, Lynch said.
The budget is something he thinks about often. For example, bulletproof vests wear out and become unsafe for use after a few years, and have to be replaced at considerable expense. So the department buys a few every year, to let them age at staggered times, rather than buying them all at once.
There are other things that are beyond the department’s control, like the possibility of the state legalizing marijuana, an offense that now brings a $150 ticket for a first-time offense of possession of less than half an ounce.
Lynch said he does not support the legalization. “There are issues like driving under the influence to consider,” he said.
But the times have been known to change, and if marijuana becomes legal, he will have to adjust his department accordingly.
“We enforce the law, but we don’t judge, and we don’t write the law,” Lynch said.