An independent investigation into a text message sent by a Hartford police detective to other members of the department about a so-called "dead pool" determined the discipline handed down by the chief may have been excessive.
Officials said Detective Jeffrey Placzek sent a text message to 20 people, including 14 Major Crimes Division detectives and supervisors in December proposing a wager over where the city's first homicide of 2021 would take place.
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 independent investigation called the discipline excessive, cautioning that the department may have reacted more aggressively due to media attention and political pressure surrounding the incident.
Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody said he stands by the actions that were taken in response to the incident.
"The independent report concludes, among other findings, that the department acted in a 'timely and effective' manner, but also expresses the view that the discipline I proposed in response to this incident is 'excessive.
"I believe that the callousness and lack of compassion expressed in his text was in no way humorous and was profoundly damaging to our community. I believe that transfer, demotion and suspension were absolutely justified," Thody wrote in a statement.
Thody went on to say that he thinks there is need for more interaction and understanding between police and and community, and noted that the department has taken steps to increase access to mental health support for its members.