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Old Lyme officer investigated for 2 separate racist incidents

Investigations determined the incident at an Old Saybrook bar and restaurant was not criminal; a confrontation outside the firehouse led to a Breach of Peace charge.

OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. — An Old Lyme police officer has been charged with Breach of Peace after an investigation into two separate incidents in which he was accused of making racist remarks last fall. A State Police investigation determined that an incident at an Old Saybrook bar and restaurant was not criminal; another confrontation outside an Old Saybrook firehouse led to the Breach of Peace charge. 

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The man at the center of the investigation, 59-year-old Jay Rankin, is a police officer in Old Lyme. He had previously retired from the Old Saybrook Police Department and remains a volunteer with the town's fire department. 

According to an arrest warrant and other documents FOX61 obtained via Freedom of Information requests, Connecticut State Police investigated Rankin for two incidents occurring a week apart in Old Saybrook. 

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In the first incident, on September 14, 2021, Rankin arrived at the firehouse to respond to a call and got into a shouting argument with a man pushing a cart in front of the station. Rankin admitted to cursing at the man and calling him a "freeloader". The man, Paul Levels, says that Rankin called him the N-word multiple times. Levels approached other firefighters, including the current Fire Chief, saying, "You have to do something about this!" Rankin told other firefighters he did not use any slurs.

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A couple who had interacted with Rankin at the Monkey Farm in Old Saybrook a week later said that Rankin, who appeared heavily intoxicated, made several racist comments because the woman -- who knows Rankin -- is white, while her boyfriend is Black. Investigators determined that there was no evidence of a crime in that incident. 

Local police, who initially responded to the incident at the firehouse for a noise complaint, said that Rankin turned himself in on the Breach of Peace charge on Monday. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Middletown on Tuesday. 

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