HARTFORD — — Management of the city police department's internal affairs division was "lax and at times nonexistent" for the past several years, according to an independent investigative report released Monday.
As a result, members of the department lost trust in the disciplinary mechanism of the department, the report concluded.
"There is an overwhelming atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust that has permeated throughout the Hartford Police Department, not only at the command staff level, but throughout rank and file," wrote consultant Frank Rudewicz of the accounting and advisory services firm Marcum LLP.
"We found that much of this paranoia and mistrust can be attributed to the current internal investigative and disciplinary process"
Mayor Pedro Segarra asked Rudewicz, a former city police officer, to investigate the internal affairs division in May, though at the time the mayor offered no reasons for doing so.
The review, released three days after Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts announced that he was retiring after 30 years with the department, found a host of problems with the internal affairs division, including "missing files, incomplete cases, sporadic attendance [and] missed deadlines."
Rudewicz also concluded that the mayor had initiated the investigation, in part, "because of an internal power struggle that got out of hand."
The report described an IA division that was run by Lt. Neville Brooks, who many considered to be a "close confidant" of the chief and someone who could run the IA division as he saw fit. Brooks' supposed "untouchable" status caused friction between him and upper echelon commanders, the report said.
"There is an apparent 'bunker mentality'" within the department, the report states, "particularly at the command staff level."
"There appears to be an attitude of extreme suspiciousness, defensiveness and self-justification based on a sense of being under persistent attack from others within the police department," the report said.
Besides the friction with command officers, others felt the IA division was being used to "protect some from discipline and persecuting others."
The division also wasn't being run properly.
"We were informed of a number of allegations of unfair treatment, improper targeting, retaliation and inconsistencies in discipline," the report said.
At a press conference Monday announcing the report's conclusion, Corporation Counsel Saundra Kee Borges said that some internal affairs files were missing or were found to be incomplete. She said some officers were taking files home.
There were also issues with time cards and attendance in the IA division, Kee Borges said. In some cases, she said, subordinates were allowed to sign off on time cards for their superiors.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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