Hartford

3 Hartford Major Crimes Supervisors Facing Discipline After Wager on First Homicide

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Three supervisors with the Major Crimes Division are facing discipline after a group text message suggesting a wager on the city's first homicide of 2021 led to a department-wide investigation.

Lieutenant Paul Cicero and Major Crimes Division Sergeants Jeffrey Morrison and Anthony Rykowski are all facing disciplinary action.

Officials said Detective Jeffrey Placzek sent a text message to 20 people, including 14 MCD detectives and supervisors.

The text message asked participants to donate $20 to receive a pin for the dead pool. Once a pin was received, an address would be submitted for the first homicide of 2021, officials said in an investigative report.

The investigation revealed that only one detective responded to the text message, stating "TY" which is a known acronym for "thank you." That detective said he responded as a way of being polite and that he was "more interested in performing the job I [he] was assigned to do."

Rykowski reportedly talked to Placzek in the office the day after he sent the message and told him the content of the text was inappropriate, the investigation revealed.

The text message suggesting wager was reported by Cicero two days after the message was sent.

Officials determined that non-supervisory personnel that received the message are not facing discipline. They will, however, be included in additional division-wide sensitivity training.

Captain Jeffrey Rousseau, who prepared the report, recommended that Morrison, Rykowski and Cicero be charged with violating the Code of Conduct.

Chief Jason Thody announced he will be disciplining all three Major Crimes Division supervisors who received the text message. He also said that he is sending the investigation for an independent, outside review "to ensure the community has confidence in the investigative process."

“The investigation sustained charges against all three Major Crimes Division supervisors who received the text message and, in my view, did not take strong or quick enough action,” said Thody. “From my perspective, while then-Detective Placzek’s direct supervisor spoke to him about the text message the day after, that’s simply not enough. And I certainly expect more from the leader of Major Crimes."

"The detectives who received the text on their personal phones may not
have had a duty to report the incident according to the Code of Conduct, but I am discouraged by the fact that they did not take more proactive action to address the behavior of their peer," he continued.

Placzek was demoted and suspended for 120 days without pay following the incident. Officials announced that his return to the police department will be contingent on passing a fitness for duty evaluation and completing a restorative justice program.

Placzek is a 16-year veteran of the police department. He has had no prior disciplinary record beyond one instance of documented counseling related to an incident where he damaged an elevator button with his foot, which he self-reported, according to Thody.

Mayor Luke Bronin also issued a statement in response to the investigation update.

“This incident was extremely damaging to the relationship that our police and our community have worked hard to build,” said Bronin. “Chief Thody imposed swift and strong discipline for the officer who sent the text, and this decision to discipline all three supervisors in Major Crimes underscores the standard our department expects from its leaders.

It was previously announced that Cicero, who supervises the Major Crimes Division, was removed from his role as the department's public information officer and was suspended from overseeing the Major Crimes Division.

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