As more layers get peeled back regarding the Administration at the Hartford Police Department, one thing is becoming very clear, the "independent outside investigators" will definitely have their hands full.
Looking at the problems from the outside, it seems that many decisions are being made without any regard for the City's liability or even the rights of individual employees. Below are the details of one recent incident that will eventually be landing in Court, unless the City uses some common sense first.
The details laid out below probably would never be tolerated in the "real" corporate world. I would venture to say that if any administrator or even a Human Resources director opened a private employer up to potential liability by ill advised or vindictive decisions, they would be on the unemployment line quickly.
In the case of a police officer, their biggest asset is their reputation and their integrity. Any attempt to question that had better be made based on solid information, and only after a thorough investigation has been conducted. Every effort should be made to ensure the highest level of confidentiality to protect the individuals reputation.
Whether it is an employee of the Aetna or a Hartford Police officer, professionalism should be the number one requirement when it comes to investigating allegations.That was not the case below.
Based on anonymous allegations, which eventually turned out to be not so anonymous but were actually unsubstantiated allegations made by one HPD Sergeant to another Sergeant, this incident began to snowball.
I normally don't redact names from documents, but in this case since the allegations were purely hearsay and gossip, I have chosen to redact the officer's name to avoid further damage to their reputation. The names of a Lieutenant and the two Sergeants have also been redacted until an outside investigation is complete.
The officer in question had been called into the office of Assistant Chief John Horvath and was advised that there was "hearsay" information that they were using narcotics.This is according to the officers attorney, Hugh Keefe, in a letter sent to Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts on March 30, 2011.
The officer volunteered to comply with an immediate drug test, hardly the logical behavior of a drug user. The department refused to provide a drug test and never followed through with subsequent offers to submit to a drug test. The officer has apparently had several drug tests done on their own. at their own personal expense.All of those reports have been negative for cocaine and marijuana as well as several other drugs. One of the reports can be seen after the PDF file of Attorney Keefe's letter below.
This matter may be directly linked to the removal of Internal Affairs Division Commander Lieutenant Neville Brooks. The officer apparently requested an Internal investigation into the way the matter was handled and whether Assistant Chief Horvath overstepped his boundaries in the way he handled unsubstantiated allegations and "hearsay" rumors. That investigation was apparently in the beginning stages when Brook's was removed.
At no time was the officer afforded his rights under the HPD Union Contract such as having a Union steward or Union representative present nor was he advised of his Miranda rights or his Garrity rights, basic labor law regulations that Assistant Chief Horvath or anyone else at his level of management should have been well aware of.
According to Attorney Keefe's letter, the original Sergeant contended that the information was coming to him through a "confidential source". It was later learned that the information was actually coming from another Sergeant in the Patrol Division who denied making the statement when he was confronted.
Keefe's letter claims that the Department and Assistant Chief Horvath's actions "failed to maintain confidentiality causing severe and irreparable damage to "redacted officers"reputation. If that doesn't scream out "large jury award", I don't know what does.
This is only the beginning. If you wonder about the degrees of discipline at HPD, read the letter below and make your own conclusions. Then over the next couple of weeks I will be posting about clearly documented and verified incidents that took a much different direction. Even incidents clearly documented, some actually caught by video, were hardly even noticed.
It promises to be a very interesting "immediate independent investigation".
In the mean time Assistant Chief Horvath has been informed that his last day at HPD will be July 1,2011 due to budget cuts. The money might come in handy to pay future legal settlements. As a side note, I'm being told there was an "abruptly" scheduled meeting between Chief Roberts and Mayor Segarra for tomorrow at 4:00PM, that could prove very interesting.
Atty Keefe Horvath Letter