HARTFORD, Connecticut (WTIC/WCCT) — The internal investigation into a “dead pool” wager inside the Hartford Police Department has been completed.
Three Major Crimes Division supervisors who were under investigation will face discipline, according to Police Chief Jason Thody.
The investigation focused on a group text message sent by then-Detective Jeffrey Placzek, who has since been demoted to officer.
The message proposed a “dead pool” wager assigning $20 placeholders to locations in the city. The closest location to the first homicide of 2021 would “win” the pool, according to the text message provided by Chief Thody in December. The investigation concluded that no bets were ever placed. One person acknowledged the text, but no one else replied.
In addition to Placzek’s demotion, he also received a 120-day suspension.
A statement from Police Chief Jason Thody reads:
“Through interviews conducted during the investigation, multiple detectives said that one supervisor in Major Crimes, Sgt. Anthony Rykowski, spoke to then-Detective Placzek in the Major Crimes Division office on Thursday, December 3, 2020 and told him that the content of the text was inappropriate. Neither Sgt. Rykowski nor Sgt. Jeffrey Morrison, the two sergeants in Major Crimes, discussed the text with their supervisor, Lt. Paul Cicero, before Friday, December 4, 2020, and Lt. Cicero did not take action prior to that Friday.”
Lt. Paul Cicero, a supervisor of the Major Crimes Division, was also removed as the department’s Public Information Officer. Lt. Cicero was charged with two violations of the department’s code of conduct. He faces a maximum penalty of a five-day unpaid suspension.
All three supervisors will receive “documented counseling,” Chief Thody said.
The investigation was completed Wednesday and released on Thursday afternoon, Chief Thody said.
“The investigation sustained charges against all three Major Crimes Division supervisors who received the text message and, in my view, did not take strong or quick enough action,” said Chief Thody. “From my perspective, while then-Detective Placzek’s direct supervisor spoke to him about the text message the day after, that’s simply not enough. And I certainly expect more from the leader of Major Crimes. The detectives who received the text on their personal phones may not have had a duty to report the incident according to the Code of Conduct, but I am discouraged by the fact that they did not take more proactive action to address the behavior of their peers.”
“The bottom line is that this conduct crossed the line by a big margin, and every member of the Department, myself included, now has the responsibility to help fix the damage this caused,” Thody said.”
Chief Thody plans to send the investigation to “an appropriate independent, outside reviewer to ensure the community has confidence in the investigative process.” That outside reviewer has not been identified, Thody said.
“This incident was extremely damaging to the relationship that our police and our community have worked hard to build,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement shortly after the investigation was released.
“Chief Thody imposed swift and strong discipline for the officer who sent the text, and this decision to discipline all three supervisors in Major Crimes underscores the standard our department expects from its leaders,” Mayor Bronin said. “It was good to learn through the investigation that the officer’s direct supervisor reprimanded the officer soon after the text message was sent and before this incident became public, but I agree with Chief Thody that more should have been done and more formal measures taken by all of the officer’s supervisors.”
City Council member Josh Michtom raised concerns about how thorough the internal investigation, particularly whether the officers involved might have conferred with each other, against regulations.
“There was no indication that the investigation actually took cell phones and reviewed records, it just asked people to come forward with what they did,” said Michtom. “There just wasn’t a lot of cross-checking, a lot of backing up.”
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