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Monday, February 7, 2011


Last Friday I posted about the Hartford Police investigating the alleged sexual assault of a five month old child. As sad and disgusting as that allegation is, it still is investigated by a Hartford Police Officer. A Hartford Police officer who has one definite thing in common with every other police officer across the country. The investigating officer is a human being with human emotions.

I don't know the officer that investigated the incident, but I am sure it brought about some strong emotional feelings. And I don't know this for a fact, but it was probably the type of day that ended with the officer trying to get a few buddies to meet for a cold beer after work.

And there lies the problem. Police officers are human and may deal with their problems the way many others do, through alcohol or by taking it out on someone else that they think will usually put up with it. It seems like the two reasons officer's end up on the bad side of the news lately is from alcohol related incidents or domestic violence arrests.

I don't condone either, but until we start employing "robo-cops" who have no emotion and function like a computer chip, we are going to have problems.

The issue hit close to home today when word of Connecticut State Police Lieutenant Timothy Kradas's recent accident and the revelation that alcohol was most likely involved. "Timmy" has been a friend since the days he moved in next to our family in Windsor when he was only a few years old. It seems like he almost spent more time at our house growing up than he did at his home. When our family would head to Vermont for weekends or summer vacations, Timmy was usually there.

Through just about every family event, Tim was there as one of our family. Weddings, wakes, funerals, Tim was there. Even my fathers retirement party, Tim was there.

Tim and I were working together when he went through the application process and was accepted into the State Police Academy and I remember him beaming when he graduated and was assigned to Troop C in Stafford. I remember how proud I was to see him make it to graduation and begin his career.

A couple years later I was with him one Saturday. He was off duty when he got a call and was told to meet another trooper off of I-91 in Windsor. He didn't know it at the time, but his State Police K-9 and his new partner Phoenix was about to be delivered to him to begin canine training.

Tim excelled with Phoenix and they made quite the team. Unfortunately, during a track one night in rough terrain, Tim and Phoenix went off a cliff and Tim's fall resulted in some chronic back injuries. Phoenix fared better from the incident and eventually retired.

That's a little bit about the human side, but it also brings me back to the "dirty little secret". Alcohol abuse is a huge problem for police officers, the same as it is for teachers, priests and probably just about every profession. The problem though is that when alcohol affects a cops career, it usually doesn't end well.

Cops are the tough guys amongst us. They are supposed to always be strong and have their armored defenses up and ready. Their peers and co-workers are expected to be equally as strong and no sign of weakness goes unchallenged. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 the challenge is neither healthy nor helpful.

Did Tim all of a sudden decide to leave CSP Headquarters pound a few beers during a snowstorm (if that is what he did) and hit the highway and drive under a truck. I doubt it. Did anyone at HQ ever look at the LT. and ask "does he look like he has been drinking?". It probably wasn't a problem that started the afternoon of the accident.

Did anyone in a squadroom full of Bristol Police Officers question one of their own on the midnight shift recently before he hit the road drunk? Obviously not, but I find it hard to believe no one noticed.

Hartford has their share also, it isn't unique to Bristol or the state. It is a human frailty and although the officers are at fault for their actions, it is something that no one wants to address. Until it erupts into a problem that is.

Many times with full knowledge of pretty much everyone, alcohol related accidents are attributed to "black ice" or a drunken binge attributed to "oh, he just had a bad day", until the "bad days" seem to become almost every day. Too many good officers, talented officers, are reduced to ruins because no one has the backbone to step up and do what is right. It is easier to gossip over the radio and make jokes about "Sgt. 36" or "Lt.36" being on a binge again. (36 is HPD's radio code for a drunk, DUI)

EAP (employee assistance program)is something that needs to be more than just a program on paper. Someone should have the guts to step up and say "I think Tim has a problem" and be able to do that without being the outcast because they breached "the Blue Wall of Silence". What they most likely are doing is helping a co-worker avoid the embarrassment of front page headlines on the Courant as well as saving their career.

What was an impressive career will now be reduced to being remembered as a crash during a snowstorm with beer cans and some tomato juice concoction containing alcohol. Doing what is right is hardly ever easy, but in the end, this incident probably would have had a much different outcome if someone had the guts to step up and do what is unpopular but also what is right.


Anonymous said...

Once again, you hit the nail on the head. Anyone from HPD who reads this will know exactly what you are referring to with the "black ice" although it is hard to blame the second accident on black ice in July. And as far as sgt 36, everyone from the Chief on down will know who that was. Was anything ever done? no and it was business as usual. Luckily we didn't have a result like Windsor Locks, but the potential was there (and in at least 1 case still is).

As long as the EAP coordinator was more interested in getting his "PJ's" no attention to really getting at the problem takes place.

Anonymous said...

One of your bests post ever Kevin. Thank you.

The other complication with law enforcement is because alcoholic abuse is much more common in that profession supervisors are reluctant to do anything to subordinates for something they themselves might be involved in a year later. For the PDs it's easier to deal with the occasional public fall out then try to deal with the real issues and people that work there daily. The drug abuse programs are in place, just not being utilized.

Bruce Rubenstein said...

excellent post Kevin

Anonymous said...

Tim Kradas is one of the hardest working guys I know. He has been the heart and soul of the Grants Section of the State Police.

I don't know what caused the accident but I'm confident the State Police will get to the bottom of it.

If the accident is alcohol related then the State Police will levy any motor vehicle related charges against him. At the same time the agency has the responsibility of working with the LT to help him with his problems. After years and years of distingquished service this individual deserves an opportunity to be helped and a career not to be identified by a single incident. I can't remember but someone said, "If you have to be perfect you'll never amount to much."

peter brush said...

a crash during a snowstorm with beer cans and some tomato juice concoction containing alcohol
Unfortunate, but mainly with respect to the guy's resume/career. As it's said; too soon old, too late smart. Fortunate, he hurt nobody else. Hope the guy's able to recover from his injuries pronto.

Grants coordinator? Sounds like a fungible skill that he'll be able to take somewhere else in the event he gets canned.

Anonymous said...

This is not a new problem for Kradas. Ever since his accident that him & his k9 phoenix was in and Kradas suffered back injuries he has been hooked on pain meds and hit an uninsured motorist in Somers while nodding off at the wheel but because the motorist was uninsured they were at fault. Town of Somers knew of his problems but did nothing to help his problems.

Anonymous said...

He should be up holding the law and not be on the road drunk.. Anyone else would lose there career.. Cant be taken other people to jail for being drunk when your on the road drunk.. oh well so sad....