July 4, 2022

State Police Lieutenant Expected as New Essex Police Hire

ESSEX— First Selectman Phil Miller has confirmed that State Police Lt. Paul Kenefick, the current commander at the Troop F barracks in Westbrook, will be hired for an open position on the town police force.

Miller said last week Kenefick is retiring from a 21-year career with the state police, and was one of nearly 40 applicants for the town police position that opened up when former officer April Pawlow became a state trooper.  He said Kenefick was recommended by a law enforcement panel that screened the applications and interviewed four finalists. “The decision has been made,” Miller said, adding that he expects to introduce Kenefick at the April 6 meeting of the board of selectmen.

The decision to hire Kenefick comes amid a public effort opposing the hire being waged by former town officer John Orr, and unresolved questions about the status of another town officer, Corp. Marc Pisciotti, who was placed on administrative leave by Miller on Feb. 28 after he had been cleared by doctors to return to work following medical leave for a shoulder injury.

Orr resigned his position with the Essex police in August 2005 for reasons that have not been fully explained. In a six-page written statement that was left at post offices last week and distributed by Orr at the March 16 meeting of the board of selectmen, Orr claims Kenefick had mishandled an internal affairs investigation of him that was begun in September 2005 after he had left town service. Kenefick was a sergeant at the Westbrook barracks at the time. The statement also alleges favoritism in the handling of personnel matters, including citizen complaints, involving town police officers. Orr and another resident, Paul Goodwin, appeared at the March 16 meeting to question the plans to hire Kenefick.

Miller, at the meeting and in comments later in the week, dismissed as “ridiculous” the concerns raised by Orr.”He has no facts, no relevance, and no validity whatsoever,” Miller said.

Pisciotti said this week he was placed on paid administrative leave by Miller on Feb. 28, just as he was cleared to return to duty after several months on medical leave. Pisciotti said Miller had cited a state police internal affairs investigation involving him that Pisciotti believed had already been concluded.

Pisciotti, a town officer for more than a dozen years who also serves as the local representative to the International Brotherhood of Police Officers union, said he wants to return to work. Miller last week declined to comment on Pisciotti’s situation.

When he begins duty in Essex, a step that will require a period of training for service as a municipal police officer, Kenefick will join with Corporal Russell  Gingras as on-duty town officers under the supervision of Resident State trooper Kerry Taylor. The town has been paying for a second resident state trooper for some patrol duties since last fall because of short staffing among the town officers. Another officer, Salvatore Bevilacqua, has been on medical leave since last fall.