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Saturday, December 10, 2016


It is funny how things work out. Several years ago,,I was upset by the actions of an HPD Sergeant. I eventually complained to Chief Roberts about that Sergeants actions and eventually that Sergeant was moved out of his position back in Patrol. I am not sure if the transfer was made to shut me up, but none the less the move was made. That Sergeant was Sean Spell.

Luckily since that time, I'll admit I have matured and broadened my vision, so not everything is clearly defined in black and white to me now. Another good friend of mine intervened a few years ago and asked me to trust him when he told me what a great cop Sean Spell was. He also asked me to trust his judgment and could he make an introduction for me and Spell to get together to clear the air and maybe understand each other a little better.

I reluctantly agreed, but I figured myself and Spell had the same desires for Hartford, just maybe a little bit different way of getting there. I was set in my ways of strictly interpreting policy and procedures and there was no gray are  or ambiguity.  We met, we talked liked civilized adults do, and we both came away with a better understanding of each other.

I gave Spell a clean slate as far as I was concerned and we started talking. Eventually James Rovella came in from the States Attorney's Office when violent crime was out of control in Hartford with this crazy idea of something called the Shooting Task Force. Rovella, who eventually  became Hartford's Chief, has an unusual knack for seeing things in people that not everyone else may readily see.

Rovella assembled a team for the Shooting Task Force, all handpicked by him to get the job done. That team included  ,now retired, Lieutenant Lance Sigersmith and Sean Spell at the helm. That team they built seemed at many time as though they would follow Rovella, Sigersmith and Spell off a cliff if that was what the mission required. They produced some phenomenal results over the next few years , taking a huge number of guns and violent felons of Hartford's Streets.

Sean Spell played a huge role in that success. Some days it would seem like he was her constantly, and that overtime made him one of the highest earners in the Police Department. His earnings didn't sit well with everyone and created some tension between him and other officers, but I can honestly say that the money was probably the best single investment Hartford could make to reduce crime

Any hour of the day or night, if there was a gun call or any violent crime happening anywhere in the City it seems as though it would only be a matter of seconds  before you would hear Sergeant Spell chime in on the radio "570 , I'll be responding". And many times it was 570 , Spells radio designation that would be proclaiming the situation under control ,another suspect in custody, mote guns taken off Hartford's streets.

After becoming friends with Spell  and following the efforts of STF, I had a better understanding  of the lack of black and white , clearly defined  clarity we all hoped would exist. Criminals operate in a grey area, and it is officers like Spell who could also operate in that grey area while still staying in bounds and not crossing into foul territory.

Some of you are probably screaming at your monitors now that "Spell did cross into foul territory". I disagree. I was with a Hartford Police Officer that night  during the entire time that the Flatbush Avenue incident  was unfolding. It moved quickly and it was chaotic The radio traffic was moving rapidly and 570 was there during all of it.

I spoke to Spell a couple days after the incident and he gave me his version, the same version that is being recounted to this day. He explained arriving at the scene and seeing an HPD Officer with a large amount of blood on his uniform shirt,. The officer explained to Spell that one of the suspects injured in the crash was bleeding heavily from a head wound and was spitting blood.

Apparently, even though the suspect had already been handcuffed, Sgt. Spell approached him and some words were exchanged. Spell readily admitted to me he looked at the suspect and said "you better not have F***ing  AIDS". The suspect moved to spit at Spell and he used his foot to push the  suspects head away to avoid his attack. Was it an assault or a logical move to protect himself from potentially hazardous contamination?

Let me pose a hypothetical question that might be easier to understand for many. You are out for a walk and a loose pitbull charges you. Do you stand there and take the bite and a potential mauling or would you use whatever is available to defend yourself. You raise your foot and attempt to push the dog away before he bites. Are you now guilty of animal abuse for assaulting the dog, or did you do what was necessary to defend yourself reasonably? Just something to think about.

Sean Spell was able to operate in that gray area I mentioned earlier. If I ever felt that he was crossing the line, I would have been one of the first people to say "Sean , you screwed up". Being able to navigate in that gray area is what made Sean Spell a good cop. No, actually let me say a great cop, and we will never know fully the violent crime his efforts interrupted on our behalf.

Thank you Sergeant Spell, I for one appreciate your efforts and will stand by your side as you clear your name and redeem your reputation as a great cop like so many others at HPD that serve us day in and day out


I am going to try to stay focused so this posting makes sense, but it might be tough.

As I have said here before, and many others have said, it seems more and more that it is open season on Police Officers in our towns and cities and across the Country. Police Officers across the nation are being executed almost on a weekly basis for no other apparent reason than the fact they wear a uniform and a badge.

In this current climate, many Departments are facing a severe problem in recruiting and hiring qualified Police Officers, and quite honestly, I don't see it getting any better anytime soon in this environment

This may sound like I am falling for the police rhetoric,,but I think more likely I am being a realist.

 Who in their right mind would want this job now a days. If the physical danger and the number of illegal guns on our streets waiting to be used against officers and civilians alike isn't a deterrent, the risk of doing their jobs is even worse. Police Officers in Hartford are risking losing their homes and livelihoods over civil judgments now that the City Administration has decided not to indemnify officers in the course of their duty.

I am also not sure that people, I hate to say many of them "cop haters", really look at what officers go through. It takes the toll on their families being away working odd shifts on most holiday, birthdays and special occasions, working when they would prefer to attend the sporting events or school concerts for their kids. Someone has to do the job, 24/7. Maybe there is a reason that divorce, alcoholism and unfortunately even suicide are higher among police officers.

Anyone that wants to second guess an officers use of deadly force or why they did what they did should be asked to step inside a shooting simulator and see how it goes. I think they will come out dripping with sweat and remorseful for the innocent people that  they shot during the scenarios. Fortunately, they would have the luxury of hitting reset button and starting over again,A luxury   which an Officer on the street  doesn't have when reacting to a deadly high stress situation

Two Hartford officers recently lost a jury decision. Not because of any willful misconduct, but because they shot and killed a dog charging them when they were inadvertently in the wrong yard looking for a suspect. Tragic that a families aggressive  dog got killed, but as I have also said before here previously, the nature of police work and criminal activity isn't always pretty. We don't hire robots with computer chips for brains, we have human beings patrolling our neighborhoods. Human beings that have to make split second decisions based on the information available to them at the time. And hopefully the best decisions being made based upon the best training as well as supervision available to them.

We tend to pack the front page when a Police Officer does something wrong, but the good deeds are hard to find. Not because the good deeds aren't happening, but who wants to read good news about something a cop does. Dozens of drunk drivers are taken off Hartford's streets every month by HPD Traffic Officers and patrol Officers. Even though the officers risk their lives out on the checks points of being struck by a drunk that can't navigate in a stupor, they still do it to keep our streets safe.

Last night a state Trooper rescued a driver from fiery vehicle to save the life of someone he probably didn't even know. He wasn't required to do that, he could have sat on the shoulder and waited for the Fire Department, but that is not what good cops do.

 One of the finest police officers I know serving the people of Hartford crawled out onto thin ice on the Connecticut River wearing a dry suit and secured to the shore by only a piece of rope between him and potentially drowning. He rescued the man from the ice, a man who had jumped in an  attempt to take his own life, but our officers risked their own lives to save someone else's, but that is what good cops do.

That same Officer and his wife buy numerous bikes every year to give away to children in the South End  who might not have a bicycle otherwise, you probably don't hear much about those good efforts

You don't hear a lot about these things , but let a cop be accused of doing something wrong, whether proven or not, and all hell breaks loose.

It is amazing to me that most of the comments on-line regarding the arrest of Sergeant Spell focused on the amount of his pension and retirement benefits. Then today the story was about the amount of money being spent on Trooper overtime.

Can anyone honestly say that if the Union for reporters at the Courant negotiated a contract that allowed reporters to retire after twenty five years with pensions of  $130,000 a year that they would say "no thank you"? The pensions for police officers and State Troopers as well as the potential for overtime were negotiated in good faith and no one is doing anything illegal by collecting them.

Maybe we should just say we don't wan the pensions or putting the cops on our streets and we are willing to go without . Maybe we should be asking our Mayor where the 70 new officers he promised us at election time are. A class of 45 new officers was promised for October and another 25 for January. Neither class is even close to happening and looking at my calendar I see we are well past October. I am sure that many applicants  have already found jobs in other agencies by now as Hartford talks a big story but quietly drags its feet.

Maybe it is more about jealousy that people didn't choose law enforcement as a career path. But until our so called political  "leaders" start paying attention, this is the way it is. As far as the overtime for Hartford Officers like Sergeant Spell and State Troopers, that is what happens when politicians bury their heads in the sand and ignore staffing for years. IF HPD is over 100 Officers short and by accounts CSP is at least a couple hundred troopers under where it should be, overtime happens, wake up.

I think this is enough for this posting, I wanted to get more into the Spell incident, but that will be another posting

Friday, December 9, 2016


Retired Hartford Police Sergeant Sean Spell was arrested tonight on charges of Assault 3rd degree and Breach of Peace after an extensive investigation by the Connecticut State Police.

The charges resulted after Spell's alleged involvement in an incident which occurred on June 4, 2016. The warrant application, prepared by CSP Sgt. Brian L. Narkewicz is below. Please take a few minutes to read the 9 page affidavit and make your own determination as to who was at fault Don't stop at section 2, read the entire application .

Now I know that some days it seems like it is open season on our police officers, and I have no problem holding police officers accountable for their actions, and I have done it numerous times on this blog.. I am fully aware that there  are some bad police officers out there, probably in much smaller numbers than the mainstream media would lead us to believe.

Let me say for the record, Sean Spell is not one of those bad officers. I would hate to think what our violent crime numbers in Hartford would be like without officers like Sean Spell and others out there in our neighborhoods. I doubt anyone could quantify the amount of violent crime that has been prevented over the last twenty five years through his efforts and the efforts of other officers he has mentored.

Police work, by its very nature is not always pretty. Add onto that dealing with people who by their very own admission were high on PCP, and Hartford Hospital medical records confirmed that . Hartford Hospital , according to Sgt. Narkewicz, verified the presence of cocaine, opiates, PCP, and cannabinoid in Diaz's system. Do you think that drug cocktail might even cause a fine citizen to act a little stupid?

 It nauseates me to see Diaz listed as a "victim". Victim of what, his own stupidity and drug use? Let me direct you back to section 2 where Sgt. Narkewicz details actions leading up to the incident.

Where Diaz was apparently operating a stolen car, "the driver struck and injured" a Hartford Police detective on Affleck Street, the stolen vehicle was operated without regard for other vehicular or pedestrian traffic. Add onto that when the pursuit was finally ended, the driver and the passenger both refused to follow verbal commands and violently resisted arrest. Officers used physical force and even the use of a Taser ,a baton, and combative techniques. Both arrestees suffered injuries during their apprehensions.

Now take a moment and put aside section 2 and look at the requirements for a charge of Assault in the 3rd degree as detailed below from the Connecticut General Statutes: A person is guilty of assault in the third degree when: (1) With intent to cause physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person; or (2) he recklessly causes serious physical injury to another person; or (3) with criminal negligence, he causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon, a dangerous instrument or an electronic defense weapon. (b) Assault in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor and any person found guilty under subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of one year which may not be suspended or reduced.

Who do you think "caused" Diaz's injuries ? The words "cause" and "intent" figure prominently in that statute. Was it Sgt. Spell pushing Diaz's head away with his foot and rubber sneaker or was it Diaz's own actions and stupidity running from the Police in a stolen car  while high on PCP , Cocaine and who knows what else that may have precipitated a less than fortunate outcome to his night...

Victim, no. Out of control drugged up felon, yes.. As a society lets start putting these criminals accountable for the results of their actions and also identify and deal with clearly abusive police  officers when it is found to be factual. In the meantime, lets not bow to political pressures to create scapegoats from good police officers just to say the system did something. The ensuing effect will prove to be chilling to good police officers doing their jobs.

The Warrant: