Greenwich Police Captain Remains On Paid Leave Weeks After ‘Signgate’
Nov. 19, 2019
GREENWICH — The future for Greenwich police Capt. Mark Kordick remains unclear more than three weeks after the department disciplined him for purchasing political signs that linked then first selectman candidate Fred Camillo to President Donald Trump.
The department placed Kordick on paid administrative leave on Oct. 28 after he admitted purchasing the Vote Republican, Vote Team Trump/Camillo, which were placed on lawns across Greenwich.
The election has come and gone, with Camillo cruising to victory for Greenwich’s top elected post. But nothing has changed for Kordick and his status in the police department over his involvement in “signgate.”
Deputy Police Chief Mark Marino confirmed Tuesday there had been no change with Kordick’s status and said there would be no further comment. He gave no indication when any action might be taken over what Kordick says is a free speech issue. The police captain said he was only expressing his views as a resident and registered voter in Greenwich.
On Oct. 30, Marino stated that Kordick would remain on the paid leave “while the police administration conducts a full review of these circumstances to determine if any departmental rules, regulations or policies have been violated.”
GPD Capt. Mark Kordick remains on paid leave as the GPD considers if he violated regulations by paying for political signs.
“The police administration will reserve passing judgment until all the facts are reviewed, and Capt. Kordick will be afforded all the due process rights in which he is entitled,” Marino said at the time.
That has left Kordick, a 31-year veteran of the GPD with 10 years as a captain, in limbo ever since.
He would not comment Tuesday and instead referred questions to his attorney, Lewis Chimes. In a statement to Greenwich Time, Chimes called for Kordick’s reinstatement and said his placement of political signs “in the middle of a heated political campaign” had nothing to do with his work on the GPD.
“The signs did not violate any state or federal election laws,” Chimes said. “Political speech is at the core of speech protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the free speech protections of the Connecticut constitution for any citizen, including police officers.
“The association of the Republican Party with President Trump is clearly fair game in contested elections anywhere in this country,” the lawyer said. “Speech does not lose its constitutional protection just because it points this out in a humorous, sarcastic or clever way. Capt. Kordick should never have been placed on administrative leave for his off-duty exercise of his free speech rights and should be reinstated without penalty immediately.”
The political signs were first spotted throughout town on Oct. 25, about 10 days before the election. The signs connected Camillo, a Republican, to Trump, and it included a web address on the bottom that seemed to be for Camillo but instead redirected to a pro-Trump website.
Republicans were outraged by the signs, saying they were made to look like they were from the campaign. Camillo called them misleading, deceptive and “one of the lowest things I’ve seen in a political race.”
Days later, Kordick, a registered Democrat and a vocal critic of Trump’s policies, said he had paid for the signs but did not put them up. He has not identified who put up the signs, but he has said he acted alone and not with any coordination with local Democrats or activist groups.
Kordick said he followed State Elections Enforcement Commission rules and was looking to start a conversation about local Republican support for Trump policies.
The police captain has faced discipline from the GPD previously. In 2018, Kordick was reportedly placed on leave after letters of complaint were filed against him for comments he made during meetings of the town’s Retirement Board, of which he was a member. In 2015, he was placed on administrative leave for improper actions regarding town resident and political activist Arthur “Cort” Wrotnowski and his efforts to campaign against Common Core education standards.
On Tuesday, outgoing First Selectman Peter Tesei, whose duties include serving as police commissioner, said the GPD was handling the matter. But he said he hoped the matter would be resolved soon. Tesei’s last day in office is Nov. 30. On Dec. 1, Camillo will be sworn in and will assume the duties of police
“I certainly would like to see that, not just for Fred’s benefit, but for the town’s,” Tesei said of resolving the case. He recalled that when he first took office, he inherited a major lawsuit against the town that resulted in years of not filling vacancies on the command staff.
“Having protracted personnel issues are a tremendous user of time and diverts attention away from issues that can improve the overall functioning of the town,” Tesei said.Tesei noted Kordick’s past disciplinary issues and called this “an important issue” that had to be resolved through the town process.
“I think the facts need to dictate an outcome,” Tesei said. “As I do with most issues, I look at patterns of behavior over time to determine future performance. I think there’s certainly been a series of issues that the captain has been involved that speak to a behavior that frankly isn’t constructive for the police department.”