Hartford police announced an internal investigation into a sexual harassment complaint found two officers broke the department’s Code of Conduct several times.
The police chief says he hopes the thoroughness of this report shows the department does not tolerate harassment.
But some are raising doubts.
Sgt. Andrew Rodney is accused of making inappropriate comments towards another officer, and Lt. Paul West allegedly failed to properly address the situation.
The person at the center of this – Officer Kelly Baerga – filed her sexual harassment complaint nine months ago.
Wednesday her attorney again raised concerns why this process took so long and what changes they’d like to see.
“First of all she wants some justice in this department about how they treat women and how they treat minorities and how they treat members of the LGBTQ community,” said Cynthia Jennings, who is representing Baerga.
In a press statement, Baerga defended Lt. West, writing that he was “the only Commander in the entire Command Staff who cared and tried to change the culture.”
West released a statement of his own, which read in part: “The news today is extremely troubling but expected. The current administration and the interim chief, Mayor Bronin has named has consistently demonstrated indifference towards minorities, women, and members of the LGBTQ + community. The Internal Affairs Division’s investigative process is being used to clear Machiavellian leadership and destroy and oppress those who voice displeasure.”
The department defended this exhaustive review and an outside law firm has given it the OK.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin responded to the report with the following statement:
“This investigation has substantiated allegations of behavior that is unacceptable and inconsistent with our values as a city, and there are significant disciplinary consequences on the table for both officers found to have violated the code of conduct. We have a fundamental obligation to ensure that all of our departments are welcoming, respectful and inclusive. That means making sure that every complaint is pursued thoroughly and swiftly, and we have already taken a number of steps to improve our investigative process. Creating a culture of zero tolerance means fostering a culture free from harassment in the first place, where colleagues don’t tolerate it in each other, where supervisors don’t tolerate it on their teams, and where nobody accepts it when they witness it. We are committed to building that kind of environment in every single department.”
NBC Connecticut has been unable to reach Sgt. Rodney for comment.
Both of the accused officers will have a chance to contest the findings per the union contract. Only once that is finished would any punishment be handed out, including possible suspension or demotion.