I know I have people that love this blog and there are others that detest it. I know that this morning there are Police Officers and Firefighters that aren't happy about issues being exposed to the public view.
I understand that, but these are public employee's being paid for by taxpayer dollars. I also have the highest regard for both agencies and just want to remind everyone that reads this blog that for the handful of problem officers and firefighters, there are hundreds more on the job that are outstanding public servants.
Those outstanding servants are out there today in subfreezing temperatures patrolling our streets and if called upon going into burning structures under the worst of conditions.
The one thing that will help build public trust and confidence in both agencies is how they handle their problems. To ignore the problem and pretend it isn't happening will only lead to more problems and closer scrutiny from residents and others.
Since taking over HPD, Chief Rovella has confronted problems head on from the start. I am sure he probably wasn't happy when I called him for comment yesterday on Detective Johnson and Officer Smith, but he was upfront and honest and there was no indication of any cover up or misinformation. That is why the community seems to be more involved in their relationship with HPD. They trust the guy.
The comments at Community meetings seem to be less and less about bad interactions with HPD Officers , but more often about positive stories and successful interactions with the men and women of HPD.
That is what happens when you are transparent. The community partners notice and relationships are strengthened. It is not always easy to sit back and take the punch in the gut that you know is coming, but it sure looks a lot better than being involved in a cover up or losing the public trust when the information finally comes out.
Police Officer's I have spoke with aren't happy about negative information coming out, but almost all of them end that statement by saying Chief Rovella is fair and evenhanded with discipline and they are happy that he is addressing problems and cleaning house. In the past many of these problems were well known but it was just easier to move the problems around. Vice and Narcotics to Major Crimes and then to the pistol permit area. The behavior doesn't change if the problem isn't removed, kind of like a cancer
HFD might consider following the leadership style of Chief Rovella, taking action might hurt for a bit, but it is a lot better than addressing the problem when something tragic or much larger happens because the bad behavior was allowed. It also sets the tone for the rest of the organization.
So keep in mind that we have great men and women serving us in both the Police and Fire Departments, as well as the rest of the City Departments, try not to paint them all with the same broad brush
This is going to be a cyptic posting because in all honesty, it is more important to me to see this matter addressed than it is to put specifics out. I can deal with a lot, but I could never deal with the death of a firefighter because I sat back and did nothing
The following comment was posted on the blog earlier tonight;
"Too bad HFD can't add one to the list. The problem child from Engine #14 was at
it again the other day. Come to work at 8am sober, go home at 3pm drunk. When
will HQ do something about this?
I have confirmed the behavior in question as well as those who were in attendance when it occurred, I am not going to post too much on specifics, but if the need arises I'm not shy.
For several months now I have been receiving calls about an intoxicated firefighter who is in a supervisory capacity. I am not posting this to see anyone lose their job, but I can't sit idly by and potentially see any Hartford Firefighter lose their life in a fire because someone's alcohol addiction has impaired their decision making.
As we have seen in other recent incidents, these issues are or may be common knowledge, but no one steps up and shows any leadership and deals with the issue. I don't personally know the firefighter in question, and he may very well be worth salvaging, To do nothing and wait for something tragic to happen and then sit back and say "Geez, we should have done something after the first time a District Chief had to drive him home drunk" is wrong.
The first priority of this administration is to protect the well being and safety of firefighters under this persons supervision. It is not to coddle to the Union President, who was also allegedly there yesterday and witnessed the behavior.The Firefighters Union should be just as interested in getting help for this individual as well as protecting their other members subjected to this dangerous behavior.
For Chief Huertas, Chief Shapiro or Chief Waller, who all witnessed yesterday from what sources have told me, the incident is a total lack of leadership. Do what you know you need to do and get this individual help. It is no longer a one time incident , it is a pattern of addiction. When a resident on a medical aid call has to ask" Is this guy drunk?" , you have a problem
Address the problem before something tragic happens. Chief Huertas I know you are capable of stepping up and doing what you need to do. Make the tough decisions that leaders have to make
If anyone wants to air their concerns over this matter, you can call me in strict confidence at 860-883-2297. It might be you or one of your fellow firefighters that you are saving.
If the attrition rate at the Hartford Police Department wasn't bad enough due to retirements and transfers, stupidity and greed seem to be taking their toll also.
According to several sources, two veteran Hartford Police Officers may be added to the unemployment rolls any day now. Officer Will Smith has been the subject of much speculation lately as controversy swirled over a homicide victim that went unnoticed for hours last summer on Linnmore Street in the City's southend. Despite the calls for numerous gunshots fired, the dead body went undetected until after sunrise the next morning, when found by neighbors. Smith was one of the first responding officers in that case
The controversy that seems to be the career ender now though is over a prisoner that Smith released from his custody after arresting him. The suspect apparently had an arrest warrant out of Rocky Hill. Smith , according to sources, ran the suspects name and was told by the Dispatch Center that the warrant was valid and Rocky Hill wanted him and would come pick him up at HPD.
Unfortunately for Rocky Hill, all of this was taking place at the end of Smith's shift and sources said Rocky Hill didn't arrive fast enough so Smith released the man wanted by Rocky Hill.. It is unclear at this point if the arrest warrant has been served yet after Smith's "unarrest".Smith will most likely either be allowed to resign or be officially terminated in the next 7 days.
The next opening is a little more troubling. Sources are telling me that Detective Tishay Johnson is most likely facing Criminal charges over a scheme to deposit fees paid to HPD for Pistol Permits and other items into his personal checking account, essentially allegedly embezzling money for the permits paid to HPD. This was uncovered by an HPD investigation and was promptly dealt with by Chief Rovella and the HPD Internal Affairs Division.
In a conversation this evening, Hartford Police Chief James Rovella said that there are "Actually two parallel investigations, one administrative and one criminal" Rovella also stated there is apparently no truth to any comments that Johnson may have sold Pistol permits ,but that a full audit of Pistol permit applications is being conducted as a safeguard
Sources are telling me that an arrest warrant application is in the works. This investigation also has the possibility to expand into misuse of State dollars and possibly sales of pistol permits. The investigation came to light today after a HPD Lieutenant circulated a memo that Johnson was no longer allowed access to the Public Safety Complex at 253 High Street.
It just amazes me the thinking of these officers. Being a Hartford Police Officer is definitely a difficult career, but it also has some excellent benefits , especially pension and retirement. Why would anyone jeopardize their career over such ridiculous things when there are still large amounts of overtime and private jobs available for police officers willing to work.
After the release last week of some great crime reduction stats, we knew it was inevitable. We should be able reduce Police spending since crime is down.Council President Shawn Wooden was quoted in a Coirant article as saying the Hartford Police Mounted Patrol was "a luxury we can't afford".
The first step might be in the elimination of the Hartford Mounted Police. The Horse Unit is apparently a luxury we can't afford according to a quote attributed to Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden.
How do you gauge the value of the Mounted Patrol. How do you determine the number of muggings that might be prevented by their mere presence in Bushnell Park. How do you determine how many brawls or shootings have been prevented when the bars let out downtown by the presence of a side stepping horse pushing a crowd back and clearing the streets.
Everyone loves to thump their chests and take credit for the media coverage when crime numbers drop, but they don't drop by luck or waving the City Hall magic wand. They drop because we have a very capable Police Chief who has put crime fighting strategies in place . And yes, those strategies cost money. You can't have it both ways
And sadly, you aren't going to fight crimes with empty promises. The Police Academy class that was promised to begin in March has apparently now, according to sources, been pushed off until the new Fiscal year in July. The money spent on overtime to fill vacancies because of that delay would probably fund the mounted unit for many months.
Mr. Wooden, here are a few luxuries that we are paying for that could result in substantial savings. First off make the Office of the Mayor live within his budget and pay for only the positions allowed under the Charter. Does the ego driven Mayor really need a "scheduler" following a few feet behind him wherever he goes, I-Pad in hand. Probably at a salry in excess of $50,000.00 from what I have been told, time for an FOI on that one.
Can we still afford one full time Administrative Assistant for every Councilperson? Now I think that is a luxury we can't afford. The Connecticut Legislature seems to function just fine with three or four Legislator's sharing one Assistant.. Why can't the Hartford City Council follow their lead?.
Can we still afford a full suite of City lawyers in the Corporation Counsel Office. Especially since both the City Council and the Internal Audit Commission are going outside to find their own attorney's for legal advice. That Office is a luxury we can't afford. A complete remake of that office is due, considering the amount of legal work that is now farmed out to outside law firms and the track record of the Corp Counsel.
Another luxury is the salary paid to the Deputy Democratic Registrar who receives his full time pay, even while he is working his second job as the Clerk of the Connecticut Senate. Why? Maybe so he can pay his recent fines for admitting to election fraud with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
I can go on, but I think I made my point.
Leave the Police Department alone and let the Police Chief do what he knows how to do. You clearly like touting the results so why mess with something that is working.No one on this Council has any law enforcement experience above the level of Police Cadet.
In the meantime, for anyone that is interested in helping to keep the "luxury", both financial donations and physical donations to help with the upkeep of the unit are being solicited. The information is below
We seem to always hear that there is nothing to do in Hartford.
This might be the weekend to end that idea.
Start off the weekend by enjoying one of the last few weekends remaining of Ice skating in Bushnell Park.
Afterwards , as the weather turns much colder and we might be digging out from snow, why not check out one of Hartford’s not so new gems and warm up watching a first run movie . I am behind the times but I recently visited the Spotlight Theater at Front Street. The theater has been open a little over a year now and features 4 full size theaters playing the latest releases.
It also offers the convenience of being able to watch a movie while enjoying food and drinks at your seat. Or if you prefer, eat in their large dining room or at the full service bar serving various appetizers and entrees. There is also a private area for fundraisers or corporate meetings and events.
The Spotlight opens daily at noon for lunch and hosts a
Happy Hour daily from 3:00PM to 7:00PM . They also offer a Sunday Brunch
Also, if you enjoy a good cigar, stop by the Smoke Shop on Pratt Street. There is almost nothing more relaxing than sitting by the front window puffing on a good Cigar and watching the world walk by. There is an interesting mix of customers in the shop and almost always an interesting conversation to jump in on.
Also, check out the new menu at the Tavern Downtown. Even though my favorite, the meatloaf, is no longer on the menu there are many great appetizers and entrees on it. The lobster mac and cheese is great comfort food on a cold day and the coconut shrimp are a good addition to the menu . The burgers and sandwiches are very popular also. If you are west of Hartford, check out the newest addition, The Tavern at the Exchange across from the UConn Health Center in Farmington.
If you are looking for something to do on a Friday night downtown, stop by Vito's on the Park. I went last Friday night with a couple friends for Vito's Trivia Night. We actually won the $50.00 first place prize. I think I had an unfair advantage though.
The question that helped put us over the top was "What Fortune 500 Company is named after an insect?" My mother is from Peoria , Illinois and most of her family, including her brother who was a Vice -President, all worked for Caterpillar Tractor. The final bonus round category was "politics", something many would argue I know very little about. The trivia contest takes place at Vito's every Friday night from 8:00PM until done. The full menu and appetizers are available.
And if you are attending a UConn game or an event at the Bushnell, the Hook and ladder is an easy stop at 207 Main Street, right next door to the home of the Hartford Fire Department Engine 1 and Ladder 6. Plenty of free parking is directly behind the restaurant on John Street.
Too many times our Holidays are celebrated without any regard to the meaning behind the day. Memorial Day is more about kicking off summer and cookouts rather than honoring those who have dies in the service of our Country. Presidents Day is more about mattress sales and Car Dealer messages than those that built our Country through their leadership. And Christmas is a mass marketing effort and very little about the birth of Christ.
I think the same can be said about today and doesn't seem to be about the legacy of Dr. King in our lives everyday, but it seems to be more about a day off from work or school. Doctor Kings message seems to get lost in the translation somewhere.
It was about equality for everyone. That we should all have the same opportunities regardless of race or color. It is not something that anyone should have to fight for, it should just come naturally because we all are part of the human race. A child in Hartford should not get a substandard education because of the color of their skin. They should have the same opportunity as a child in Avon or Farmington.
There should be no place in our communities for anyone that tries to drive a wedge between human beings and using racism as a crutch. I would challenge you that the next time you hear someone spouting off about racism and using that to divide, ask them what they have done lately to make freedom ring in their City or Town, as Dr. King would have done.
Last night I was invited to attend an event for the Scribe Institute at the Pond House in Elizabeth Park. The brochure for the event is below, but I first met Dr. Aaron Lewis , the founder and Director of the Scribe Institute when he was a guest on our "We the People" program.
I was expecting the typical Director of a non -profit, making his plea for money to be able to live the good life and build his little empire, as many groups in Hartford do.
My expectations were shattered. The Scribe Institute is funded through private donations. Dr. Lewis is a volunteer Executive Director and the passion for his vision is clear within moments after starting to speak with him.
The Scribe Institute is all strictly volunteers that work with younger children on literacy issues. Those efforts were displayed Sunday night as children that have gone through the program gave speeches and read their remarks in Honor of Dr. King. They were almost flawless in their delivery and it shows that literacy can be accomplished when approached properly.
I was a little disappointed by the remarks of Mayor Segarra when he spoke about the need for literacy for black and Latino children. I think Dr. Kings message would have been literacy for ALL children, regardless of the color of their skin.
"This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing ' My Country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing' " according to Dr. King. Until all of us are treated as equal, not much will change. Whether it is black and Latino students in Hartford or a white student in Avon as Dr. Kings message stated all of God's Children should be equal.
Dr Aaron Lewis and the Scribe Institute are trying to make that happen, one child at a time, regardless of skin color.
I think that Dr. King would be impressed with Doctor Lewis's efforts. Dr. Lewis is walking the walk in the true meaning and message of Dr. King's life. That people are following Dr. Kings message in real life is more of a tribute than any day off could ever be.
After getting fed up with the lack of openness in Hartford City Hall, I decided to begin a program on Hartford Public Access Television called "WE THE PEOPLE". Through tips received we have been able to expose numerous issues that the Perez Administration would prefer to keep quiet.
Any information received is kept in strict confidence, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 860-883-2297 with any information.