Recently, the Hartford Police Department made a big production of their quickness in releasing information regarding an officer involved shooting in a Blue Hills neighborhood. Mayor Segarra quickly jumped on board and touted his transparency. I would gamble a guess and say Segarra had nothing to do with it, it had James Rovella written all over it and was probably thought out well in advance by the Chief.
Segarra can't seem to manage his way out of a paperbag, never mind successfully defuse the potential powderkeg that HPD had on their hands. Under Rovella's leadership the shooting was handled properly and no public disturbance was felt.
But it is relatively easy to be transparent in textbook type situations. If the situation was entirely different, would the information be as forthcoming? If there were clear questions regarding the officer's probable cause, would Mayor Segarra have been as quick to support HPD?
Lets move to another racial incident where "transparency " has not been as forthcoming. And let me say up front, I know Chief Rovella is in a tough spot on some of these decisions, but it doesn't make it right. I posted here a while back regarding Hartford Police Officer Kamil Stachowitz. Stachowitz in a drunken rage recently at the Foxwood's Casino began yelling the "N" word at a Foxwoods tribal police officer, who had been called to remove an unruly Stachowitz. During the altercation Stachowitz repeatedly yelled the "N" word and even went so far as telling the African American tribal officer "my grandfather used to own slaves like you".
After learning of the incident, I attempted to obtain the incident report from the Foxwoods Police Department. After numerous phone calls to Foxwoods, the tribal Police finally acknowledged the incident and provided me with their case number. They refused to give me the report though, claiming that HPD asked them not to release it to me because they were conducting an internal administrative investigation. Foxwoods told me they had forwarded a copy of the incident report to HPD .
I requested the report on at least three occasions from HPD through Deputy Chief Foley to no avail. Detective Ursula Wiebusch who handles the Department's FOI requests would not give me a specific denial. All she would mention on her e-mails is that the report was part of an ongoing administrative investigation.
There are several very specific exemptions under the FOI law when an agency can refuse to release public documents. Open Administrative investigations is not one of them. Documents as part of an "ongoing criminal investigation" can be withheld. Since HPD has no jurisdiction in Ledyard or at Foxwoods, there is no chance of HPD's administrative investigation resulting in criminal charges. Specifically, this is the exemption HPD is apparently trying to use: Records of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which
records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of
I understand collective bargaining and Union nonsense, but why would the Union or the Department try to protect a racist cop?
The scary part in this is that Stachowitz apparently went off sick under the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) when the incident first came to light. I guess alcoholism is an illness under ADA( American's with Disabilities Act). It's a convenient dodge to buy time . Since that time Stachowitz has since returned to regular duty as a Hartford Police Officer complete with a badge and gun out in the public. He is currently assigned to TeleServe, HPD's front desk area, which is also the HPD version of the penalty box for bad boys and girls.
The problem with that is that Stachowitz last week was taken out of TeleServe and used in a regular patr0ol car on the streets of Hartford, racist attitudes and all. One high ranking official at HPD also said that Stachowitz is eligible for overtime and there is no way of stopping that. What will happen if he is working a PJ at Walmart and assaults a black or Puerto Rican alleged shoplifter. What happens if he is working a road job and gets involved in an altercation similar to the one we saw last year with the Taser deployment? Will the community give him the benefit of the doubt?
Will the community just accept the situation and continue their trust and confidence in HPD. In the current climate I would say probably not. Too many people are looking for a reason to light the fuse on that powderkeg, and with known racists like Officer Stachowitz on the force, they have every right to be concerned.
The HPD Union needs to not protect racist , bad cops. They have apparently provided legal representation for the racist Stachowitz at all of his interviews. Maybe it is time for the Moral Monday group to stage a protest on the street in front of 253 High Street at HPD Headquarters That's a protest for a cause that is not abstract to Hartford, we have a proven racist cop in our midst and he needs to be gone. Stachowitz has no business wearing the uniform and badge that all of the other honorable men and women of HPD wear everyday as they serve our neighborhoods with respect.