A Hartford police detective has been demoted and suspended for 120 days without pay after he allegedly sent a text message suggesting a wager on where the first homicide of 2021 would occur.
Officials announced that Detective Jeffrey Placzek's return to the police department will be contingent on passing a fitness for duty evaluation and completing a restorative justice program.
As a part of the investigation, Lt. Paul Cicero, who supervises the Major Crimes Division, was removed from his role as the department's public information officer and has been suspended from overseeing the Major Crimes Division effective immediately, pending the outcome of the investigation. He was one of the recipients of the text message, according to Police Chief Jason Thody.
Thody said that Cicero, as well as other supervisors who received the text message, could face additional discipline based on the outcome of the investigation.
Thody also announced that he expects the investigation into the members of the police department who received the text message to be finished by the end of the week.
“It is critical that every member of the Hartford Police Department conduct themselves in a way that builds and strengthens a relationship of trust with our community, and this conduct undermined that relationship and undermined the work of every single officer on our force," Thody said in a statement.
“When I read this text message, I was disgusted, angry and disappointed. The idea that one of our detectives would discuss betting in any way on a tragedy is appalling. I have heard from many members of our community who are distraught about this, and I want them to know that I share their anger," Thody continued. “In addition, the fact that it appears several supervisors took no documented action and did not report it to me after receiving the text is completely unacceptable."
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 updates in the investigation.
“The officer who sent this message demonstrated a profound disrespect for our community and a deeply troubling lack of judgment. Chief Thody has imposed serious discipline, including both demotion in rank and a lengthy four-month suspension without pay, which I support, and I expect that additional discipline will be coming for supervisors who received this message and failed to take action," Bronin said.
NBC Connecticut has reached out to the union for comment but has not yet heard back.
The Hartford City Council is calling for a division-wide investigation following the incident.
The officer will get a chance to appeal the discipline.
"At a time when we are trying to build trust, I am as disappointed in this behavior as I am sure you all of you are," Thody said in a Facebook post last week.