Reggie was not an insider or "career Hartford firefighter" as his detractors had complained. And I think that is part of the key to his success so far. Chief Freeman does not "owe" anyone.
Chief Freeman has been able to attack the "dirty little secrets" that have been around and well known by his predecessors for years, but they were always ignored. The drug dealing, drug use, alcohol abuse and the workers comp and sick time abuses. None of that is new, but the fact that people are being held accountable is new.
The joke in the Police and fire Department has always been employees making their annual appointments with Doctor "Summeroff" to get an extended vacation with pay and benefits.
Many firefighters were concerned with Chief Freeman when he came in as to how his leadership and accountability would affect their "part time jobs". One Lieutenant just found out the hard way
It cost him his career.
Lt. John Moree, a 21 year veteran of the Hartford Fire Department, was terminated for alleged Workers Compensation Abuse. Moree claimed he was unable to work due to an injury, but he was apparently caught on video lifting sheets of drywall at a Home Depot store.
Apparently, when Moree realized he had been caught like a rat going for the bait in the trap, he apparently quickly came up with an offer to retire. That would have allowed him to get of easy and maintain his paid healthcare for life and claim his unused sick and vacation time and the other benefits honorable and hardworking firefighters who retire from the City are allowed.
Moree was allegedly perpetrating a fraud on the people of Hartford and the Hartford Fire Department and to allow him the same benefits as firefighters that retire honorably would be a travesty and an injustice to employees that play by the rules. Moree was terminated and not allowed to retire.
Moree isn't the first to be accused of abusing the system. Ask any Hartford firefighter with integrity and they will probably rattle off a long list of names of abusers during their careers. And many of those names were most likely known to previous Chiefs who chose to ignore and in some cases enable the abusers.
Chief Freeman has also taken decisive action against other firefighters who failed to address their own issues and forced his hand. This past year has resulted in a couple of terminations for firefighters allegedly involved in drug use and one firefighter accused of an off duty drug transaction that resulted , allegedly, in his shooting, was also terminated by Freeman.
I had hoped that Chief Freeman was wrong on the termination of Jimmy Ngo, but according to law enforcement sources who have spoken to me on the condition that they remain anonymous, the layers of the onion may start getting peeled off as text messages and other electronic information exposes a wider problem within HFD.
I hope I am wrong, but I have every confidence that Chief Freeman will no longer cover for the "dirty little secrets" like his predecessors. It all goes back to the message of ACCOUNTABILITY that Reggie delivered to all of his firefighters from his first day on the job as Chief.