Thursday, June 26, 2014
THE HPD "CRASH CHANNEL, LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE
It will be a lengthy posting so, keep reading.
In the mid to late nineties a unit was established in the LAPD to combat crime in one of the worst precincts in the City, the Rampart Division. It was called the "CRASH Unit". It evolved into the Los Angeles' Police Departments worst corruption and frame-up scandal. News reports have revealed a widespread pattern of unjustified arrests, beatings, drug dealing, witness intimidation, illegal shootings, planting of evidence, frame-ups and perjury at the CRASH unit of the Rampart Division of the LAPD.
CRASH is the acronym for the "Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums", an anti-gang program. It was police officers essentially going to any length, legal or not, to make arrests and get gangs off the street. Numerous LAPD officers were actually arrested and sent to prison after it was revealed they planted drugs and set people up for arrest...or worse.
You might be asking yourself what his has to do with HPD? I am not insinuating that any extreme actions like that have occurred in Hartford. Sometime around 2006 or 2007 a group of Hartford Police Officers were able to convince the radio technicians that handled the City's trunked radio system to establish and set up a special talk group that only certain officers could access and talk on, Very few supervisors had access to the channel and it was not monitored in the Dispatch Center. High level administrators were aware of the channel, but apparently did nothing at the time to shut it down.
The channel was called the CRASH Channel by the officer's who had it set up, apparently named after the LAPD Crash Unit who had a history of operating outside the normal boundaries and supervision.When the Hartford Officers who had access to the channel wanted to operate "under the radar" they would instruct others with the channel "to go crash". That meant to switch their portable radios over to the crash channel and they could communicate without supervisors or others knowing what they were doing.
On the evening of December 1, 2007, shortly before 7:00PM a vehicle pursuit was started by HPD officers in Hartford's southend. the chase quickly got up to high speeds and LT. Brian Foley who was a southend zone Lieutenant at the time, (Now Deputy Chief Foley) immediately ordered the chase to be broken off and for the HPD Officers to stop pursuing the vehicle. According to sources familiar with the chase ,Foley believed the officers involved obeyed his order and the pursuit had ended.
Again, according to sources the order to " go crash" went out over the radio and unbeknownst to Foley and anyone else except the officers involved and using the "CRASH Channel" the pursuit continued at high speeds south into Wethersfield on Ridge Road where an HPD unit attempted to ram the vehicle being pursued but the vehicle did not stop. All of this is in direct violation of the HPD pursuit policy. Again sources that were part of this pursuit eventually verified these facts through an Internal Investigation.
I have requested that report through the Freedom of Information Act and will post it here as soon as I receive it. The lead vehicle in the pursuit was operated apparently by HPD Officer, now Sergeant Felix Ortiz and apparently Ortiz was also the operator of the cruiser that rammed the vehicle they were ordered by Foley not to pursue while on Ridge Road in Wethersfield.
The vehicle and the chase continued at high speeds south into Wethersfield over Cedar Mountain through Newington Center and eventually up Fenn Road headed toward West Hartford. Again, this pursuit was taking place on the "Crash Channel" and no Hartford supervisor except for Ortiz and those officers following him were aware of what was taking place. Once on Fenn Road the vehicle being chased apparently lost control near West Hill Road. The vehicle apparently crashed into a house and a passenger in the vehicle, a teenaged female, was killed. The Crash Channel immediately came to life with orders to "get out of here before anyone realizes who we are" Ortiz and the others did just that. Apparently no first aid was rendered, no one called for Emergency services, they just returned to Hartford.
At the time I was told that none of this was recorded, but that was untrue and the IAD file reportedly contains all the details as well as audio recordings of the incident. Ortiz was apparently disciplined after this incident by former Chief Daryl Roberts but there is no indication why criminal charges were not pursued for the death that resulted from the illegal chase.
You might be asking yourself now why this matters seven years later.
It appears that this past Monday morning , history may have repeated itself. Sergeant Ortiz who was working Sunday night into Monday morning as the Supervisor for the Downtown Detail around the bars was near Club NV on Allyn Street when a motorcycle began revving its engine, quite possibly in an effort to bait a cop to chase him. Ortiz took the bait and the chase was on. According to sources who witnessed the activity said the motorcycle fled at high speed, cutting through downtown lots with Ortiz in hot pursuit. The motorcycle headed towards Pulaski Circle and the Conlin- Whitehead Highway eventually to head towards 91 north.
At the stop sign from Jewel Street to Pulaski Circle (by the skating rink), witnesses have stated that
Ortiz activated his overhead lights and siren and was pursuing the motorcycle at high speed toward the highway, within a short time Ortiz radioed HPD Headquarters and told the dispatcher that apparently "a citizen" had stopped him and said that there was a bad motorcycle accident on I-91 North. within seconds , Ortiz was calling for Fire, EMS and an Ambulance for the motorcyclist as if he happened to come across the accident and not because he had continued his pursuit onto the highway where the motorcycle operator had crashed and died.
How could a "citizen" have witnessed th e accident and then notified Ortiz back down at Pulaski Circle? Did they come upon the accident and then back off of 91 and down the Conlin Highway to find Ortiz and advise the officer who just seconds earlier had been in pursuit or was this the second time an Ortiz pursuit had taken a life.
A couple things in this matter will prove interesting. Video is everywhere now. The Attorney General's building at 55 Elm has several cameras recording shots of the street and the area around Pulaski Circle. I believe that at least one media outlet has or is in the process of requesting the video through FOI. There are also numerous restaurants apartment buildings and other places recording 24 hours a day.
There are also Ortiz's fellow police officers who witnessed the events and probably aren't going to jeopardize their careers by lying in something that has the potential to evolve into a criminal investigation.
We all know these motorcycles are a nuisance but is it worth chasing them? In the meantime I will hopefully have the 2007 IAD investigation soon to post here