Community and civil rights leaders are demanding more accountability from the Hartford Police Department after a detective was allegedly sending out text messages to other officers suggesting a wager on where the first homicide of 2021 would occur.
Police Chief Jason Thody issued a statement on Facebook discussing the details of the internal incident. According to Chief Thody, a detective in the Major Crimes Unit sent a text out to other officers and court officials suggesting that they bet on where the first homicide of the year will take place in 2021.
"You make an oath to protect and serve and when you hear these types of situations happen, you know, that distrust goes right back up," said Corrie Betts, chair of criminal justice with the NAACP of Connecticut. "Accountability and leadership start at the head."
Police said Detective Jeffrey Placzek is facing serious disciplinary actions and has been removed from the major crimes unit.
Other community groups believe the actions of the officer represent a certain culture within the Hartford Police Department.
"I think it's a failure in leadership in the Hartford Police Department," said Joanna Iovino, executive director with the Citizens Opposed to Police States. "It's the whole climate of the police department."
Iovino believes policing as we know it needs to go through a series of changes.
"It's the whole system that's flawed and as long as the system is allowed to continue, it's not going to change just because of what it's based on and where it comes from," said Iovino. "I was absolutely disgusted by it but I see it has a much bigger issue than a single detective."
Mayor Luke Bronin issued a statement about the incident which reads in part: "Chief Thody and I learned that an HPD detective recently sent a text to a group of other officers and court officials proposing a wager on where the first homicide in our community would occur in 2021. The casualness, callousness, and heartlessness of this text are disgusting, and to send a text like this demonstrates a disregard for life and for our community that is wholly unbecoming of a Hartford police officer."
"This is a symptom that you're getting from a system that from a legal perspective has taken away the ability largely to hold police accountable," said Dan Barrett, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut. "It's not just a question of this guy did this thing, it's a question of look at your whole body of work and it's no wonder why people in CT, and especially in places like Hartford, people think of the police as an occupying force."
Kevin Brookman, a blogger who covers the city of Hartford published a blog post on Friday in reference to the incident with the officer.
"There needs to be more accountability from the leadership within the Police Department," said Brookman. "There needs to be a tone that is set from the top to the bottom and behavior like this should have no place inside of the police department."