NEW MILFORD — One of the town’s top cops is at the center of an internal police investigation and has been placed on administrative leave.

Mayor Peter Bass confirmed on Wednesday that Lt. Larry Ash has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which stemmed from a complaint received by the police department.

Bass declined to comment on the nature of the complaint or the investigation other than to say the information that led to the investigation was received through the department’s tip line.

State Police said they are assisting in the investigation,

Bass declined to say if the investigation is criminal in nature. “Unfortunately, and I mean unfortunately, I can’t comment on that while the investigation is pending,” he said.

Ash has been a police officer for 31 years following in the footsteps of his father, Robert, a decorated, 17-year detective. Larry Ash is the department’s spokesman and media liaison.

The investigation comes as Bass is reorganizing the department to make it more community friendly, he said.

The mayor last month confirmed Chief Shawn Boyne’s contract was not renewed as part of the reorganization effort. Boyne remains with the department until his contract expires in October.

“Right now, we are assessing candidates for the chief’s position and I’ve brought in some (law enforcement) people to help facilitate that,” he said. “I’m looking to have a more community-focused and community-centered based operation where it’s more hands on.”

He declined to elaborate on the reorganization.

Town Council members are apparently in the dark about the investigation and Bass’ vision for the department.

“The mayor hasn’t told the Town Council what directions he wants to take the department,” Council Peter Mullen said. Mullen said he was surprised earlier this week to learn of the Ash investigation.

Mullen said he hopes to discuss the issue at next week’s council meeting.

“I’m not too concerned at this point, but I’d like to have more information about why the chief is leaving and now our second in command isn’t there,” he said.

Despite the effect on the department’s leadership team — only Lt. Jeffery Covello, who joined the department two years ago, is unscathed — Bass said he has the utmost confidence in the department’s ability to protect the public.

“We have a very dedicated staff with a lot of experience and I feel very confident they will continue to perform well while we look to reorganize the department,” he said.

Boyne and Ash could not be reached for comment.

dperrefort@newstimes.com