Updated: Police release mugshots of arrested DPW workers

Mayor says two accused of dealing not representative of town employees

Updated Aug. 7, 3 p.m. Stratford police used dogs to search Department of Public Works facilities Thursday, one day after two employees were arrested and charged with selling drugs. No drugs were found, officials said during a press conference.

Mayor John A. Harkins said he was “sickened” by the allegations that two long-time employees were selling drugs while on the job. He also used the words, “saddened, disappointed and disgusted.”

At the same time Harkins complimented the police department for excellent work and said, “I look forward to continued enforcement of the laws.”

Patrick Ambrose, 38, of Stratford was charged with five counts of illegal narcotics sales and four counts of sales within 1,500 feet of a school.

Patrick Ambrose

Patrick Ambrose

Todd Whitlock, 37, of Milford was charged with four counts of illegal narcotics sales and one count of illegally supplying prescription drugs.

Todd Whitlock

Todd Whitlock

Both men were suspended immediately, according to Harkins, and are not on the job today.

Officials said that the men worked for the town for 15 and 20 years, and one worked in the highway division and the other worked in sanitation.

“I do not believe these two are indicative” of all Department of Public Works employees, Harkins told the assembled media.

The alleged drug sales occurred mainly during June and July of this year, Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour said at the press conference. He said police encountered the men during regular Narcotics Unit work, not by way of a targeted investigation of the Department of Public Works. 

The investigation took “quite some time,” Ridenhour said, but he would not be specific on the length.

The men were both arrested by warrant, not on the job.

When asked if the men were caught selling to the general public or only to police informants Ridenhour said, “Our focus was on what we could control.”

Regarding the four charges of drug sales near a school, the chief said that he had no knowledge of drug activity being on any school property, and that the activity could have been near “several schools.”

Town officials said they have no knowledge that the men arrested were using drugs, and thus they have no knowledge of them operated town vehicles or equipment while under the influence.

Harkins said there is a drug testing program in place for all town employees, and they are periodically and randomly tested. The drug testing program did not play a role in this case, Ridenhour said.

Harkins said he is “dead serious” about zero tolerance for drug use among town employees and that he would like the testing to be “more rigorous.” For example, he would like Oxycodone, a drug involved in the recent arrests, to be added to the panel of drugs tested.

Any change to the drug testing program for union employees would be subject to contract labor negotiations.

Harkins said also there is an Employee Assistance Program in place where employees who have a problem with drugs can seek help.

It is possible that more arrests will result from the continuing investigation, Ridenhour said.

With Stratford Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour at his side Mayor John Harkins speaks during an Aug. 7 news conference about the seriousness of arresting town employees who sell drugs. Greg Reilly photo.

With Stratford Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour at his side Mayor John Harkins speaks during an Aug. 7 news conference about the seriousness of arresting town employees who sell drugs. Greg Reilly photo.

 

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