Comments by Hartford Council Member Cause Firestorm - NBC Connecticut

Comments by Hartford Council Member Cause Firestorm



    Comments by Hartford Council Member Cause Firestorm

     It started with a comment Hartford City Councilmember Cynthia Jennings made Monday night at a budget meeting. The words caught on tape created a firestorm that upset many who serve and protect the City of Hartford.

    "We as people that work in this city recognize that it is not a high skill set to be a police officer or a dispatcher, and it's a high amount of pay and excellent benefits," said Jennings in a recording NBC Connecticut obtained from Hartford Public Access.

    The Hartford Police Union President, Richard Holton, called the comment unacceptable.

    "There's no police officer in this State of Connecticut, my city, or throughout the country that gets paid enough for what they do," said Holton. "They put their lives on the line every single day not knowing if they're going to come home to see their wife or children. To make that comment I thought was just out of line."

    Later in the same forum the councilmember did attempt to clarify, calling it a misunderstanding. She added that many in her family are in law enforcement.

    "I just want to say to every Hartford police officer that it is not my intention to denigrate them," Jennings said in the meeting.

    NBC Connecticut caught up with Jennings following Tuesday night's budget meeting. When asked if she wished she had not said her earlier comment, she responded that her words were taken out of context but did not back down.

    "The chief said that it required a high school diploma. That's not a high skill set," said Jennings.

    She went on to say, "I'm not saying you don't have to develop a skill set, but in order to be hired as a Hartford police officer it's not a specialized skill set."

    The councilmember says she simply meant the police department needs to do more to hire those living in the city since only 16% are currently residents.

    The police department had no comment on the matter.

    In a letter Police Chief James Rovella sent to officers, which NBC Connecticut obtained from a source inside the department, it said the Jenning's comment was not made to belittle officers and went on to say, "Please extend the benefit of the doubt to her on this matter. Please join me in ending this misunderstanding here and now."

    "I wish people had heard the entire context of what I said," said Jennings.

    Mayor Pedro Segarra had no comment.

    Holton hopes Jennings reaches out to officers in person to explain that she did not mean to insult them or their profession.