I'll start this off by saying I like the job Hartford Police Chief Daryl Roberts has done and is doing. I respect the Chief's honesty and his integrity and I am sure some of his detractors that read this blog are screaming at their monitors right now as they read this.
But there has to be some days when he goes to put on his uniform in the morning and ask himself why he does the job he does. He has the time to retire and go to some small town and settle in without the callout's in the middle of the night, the constant battles for funding and staffing and equipment.He could even go to UConn and make almost double what he is making here. For anyone who doesn't know Chief Roberts though, he is all about Hartford.
Any Chief, especially in a city like Hartford has to be 1/3 cop, 1/3 administrator and 1/3 psychologist. The Chief recently had to make some tough decisions when it came to promotions, several qualified candidates and he only had two slots to fill. That's where the psychologist part comes in, and may not be the Chief's strongest suit, but he tries, I think. He has been passed over for promotions during his career I'm sure, even when he thought he was the most qualified and should have been promoted.
The tough part for any Chief is trying to keep morale up and keep the interest of those passed over, while being honest about why choices are made.
The toughest part has to be days like today though. This Chief, his command staff and probably 95% of the men and women of the Hartford Police Department are about building relationships and working with members of the community. But it only takes one officer, maybe even an otherwise good officer, just having a bad day to move that whole process quite a few steps backwards.
Who knows what Officer Kevin Brodie's day started off like yesterday. Several people I spoke with have told me he is normally a decent guy. Maybe he had an argument at home before starting his shift yesterday, maybe he had a splitting headache throughout the day. Who knows what was said to him by a 17 year old when he answered a complaint at a school on Locust Street.
Nothing though can ever justify his actions from that point on. An altercation occurred where Brodie was allegedly the aggressor. After delivering his beat down to the 17 year old, Brodie apparently returned to his cruiser and told the bystanders and potential witnesses that if anyone had a problem with his actions, come see him in his cruiser and he would wait a half-hour to deal with anyone who had a problem.
Probably not the poster child for any campaign on Community oriented policing plans.
The bottom line is that his actions that probably lasted only a moment or two casts a huge negative shadow over the entire department and erases much of the positive work that Chief Roberts and his fellow officers do every day to build relationships.
One of the most positive signs though is that under Roberts the "Blue Wall of Silence" has pretty much been torn down. I would be naive to think it still doesn't exist, it's human nature, not just in Hartford though but even in small towns like Windsor Locks, but eventually the system works itself out.
A month or so ago I posted that until we start hiring robots as cops, we still need to deal with the human issues of police officers. Our police officers still need to be picked from the same pool of human candidates and no system is perfect. What if a potential police officer candidate had anger issues before being hired and through a court ordered program eventually had a record sealed or dismissed. That legally can't be used during a background investigation , unfortunately , and the department's hands are tied.
All any Chief or administrator can hope for is that if and when such behavior occurs again, it is dealt with quickly and openly to once again begin building on the public's trust.
I think that is why Chief Roberts and almost every officer working with him continues to get up every morning and put those uniforms on. Hartford is a great City and we have a good Police Department of human beings trying to do the best they can, and most times under very difficult circumstances and conditions. Nothing is perfect, but I think for the most part we are lucky that we have the 450 or so officers that we do.
Hopefully Kevin Brodie will find a suitable career that he is fit for because this doesn't seem to be it. Luckily the problem was revealed and dealt with quickly, Brodie has been a Hartford Police officer for less than 8 months.
And just a reminder, keep your comments on point or they will not be posted.