March 25, 2005
By STEVEN GOODE, Courant Staff Writer
Family, friends and
colleagues packed into the Riverfront Recapture boathouse
at Riverside Park in Hartford Thursday to celebrate the promotions
of 19 city police officers to the ranks of sergeant and detective.
The promotions were significant to city and department officials
because the officers will be deployed into the new neighborhood
policing initiative, with a focus on narcotics enforcement.
"Narcotics is really one of the engines that drives crime," said
Andrew Rosenzweig, assistant chief of the Hartford Police Department.
The promotional ceremony was also notable in that one of its
members was Robert Allan, who fatally shot 14-year-old Aquan
Salmon in a North End parking lot six years ago.
In the days leading up to the ceremony there were rumblings
that it would be marred by protests of Allan's promotion to sergeant,
but on Thursday there were none.
Local, state and federal authorities had exonerated Allan, who
is white, in the shooting death of Salmon, who was black.
Hartford Police Chief Patrick
J. Harnett said after the ceremony that he was "extremely
sensitive to the feelings of the African American community
regarding Robert Allan."
But Harnett was also adamant that Allan's promotion was the
right thing to do.
"I've had an opportunity to work closely with him. I think
he's a terrific young man. He had a difficult decision to make
six years ago," Harnett said after the ceremony. "There
was no way, in good conscience, I could not promote Robert Allan."
Allan declined to comment on his promotion or any ill feelings
in the community, but Harnett expressed relief that the rumors
of a public protest didn't become reality.
"We're here to heal and move forward," he said. "We're
not here to separate the police and the community."
Mayor Eddie A. Perez said Thursday that residents were entitled
to their opinion about Allan's promotion and he fully supported
their right to freedom of speech had they decided to protest.
But he also supported Harnett's decision.
"I stand by the chief and the men and women of this department," he
said. "We need to move forward."
During the ceremony, in which officers were pinned with new
badges by proud wives, brothers, children and fathers, some who
are retired or active in the profession, Perez told the audience
that Hartford's police department is focused on diversity and
"I'm going to do everything I can to make this department
look more like our community," he said, adding that he planned
to make the department's community policing initiative "second
During his comments to the audience, Harnett recalled a fatal
shooting downtown early Monday. As visitors to the city and residents
ran one way to escape the gunfire, Harnett said, Hartford police
officers were heading toward it.
"That's what cops do, run into harm's way," he said. "That's
why I'm so proud of them."
Allan and fellow officers Winston Brooks, Charles Cochran, Robert
Davis Jr., Matthew Eiselle, Robert Klin, Andrew Lawrence, Francis
Perrone, Ian Thompson and Densil Samuda were promoted to sergeant.
Officers Argeo Diaz, Eric Gauvin, Omayra Martinez, Richard Medina,
Mark Rinaldi, Richard K. Salkeld, Jon Sherwood, Shawn St. John
and Daniel Villegas were promoted to detective.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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