Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Blatant, Official Connecticut, Racism and Citizen Abuse

Agency Leaders Accused
Top Administration Blamed For Alleged Racism In State Police


By TRACY GORDON FOX | Courant Staff Writer
January 30, 2008

Sgt. Andrew Crumbie squarely placed responsibility for alleged racism within the state police on his department's top administration during a state legislative hearing Tuesday, saying the same people have been in charge of the agency for years.

During the hearing before members of the legislature's black and Latino caucus over allegations of racism within the state police and the Department of Correction, Crumbie said changes can only be made from the top down.

"The people in charge of this agency are the very same people who have had complaints of racism lodged against them," Crumbie said. "These very same people are advising this new commissioner. If you are dipping into a well of dirty water, you are going to get dirty water every time."

Several correction officers testified about the racism they said they had endured, including name calling, harassment and retaliation. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal testified that he was seeking broader protection for whistleblowers who complain about such misconduct.

In all, about 24 people testified during the first seven hours of the hearing, which continued late into the evening.

Legislators said they allowed so much time for the hearing because they have heard complaints for years about racism within the agencies, and that it must be addressed. They invited the commissioners of public safety and correction to testify.

"As elected officials and agency officials, we can work together to enforce a no-tolerance policy and eliminate discrimination," said Rep. Ernest Hewett, D-New London.

Among the complaints discussed was the case of a supervisor and troopers who exchanged racially offensive e-mails and who are still in their same positions at the state police laboratory. The e-mails showed a video of a child spewing a racist word and a black man lying beside a pile of watermelon and chicken bones.

Crumbie, a former chief of staff and director of the state police forensics laboratory, has filed complaints with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, alleging that he was demoted for political and racial reasons. He is on an extended leave from the department.

Before the hearing, a few dozen people rallied in front of the state Capitol, urging Gov. M. Jodi Rell to give Crumbie back his job. They wrote a letter to her, asking her to look into some of the issues of racism with the state police and other state agencies.

At the rally, Crumbie said the issue was not about him, but about "entrenched racism."

"We can't worry about action, but we should be scared as hell of inaction," Crumbie said. "We all want a fair shot."

Crumbie testified at the hearing that there was "inaction" from the department over the racially insensitive e-mails.

"An internal affairs investigation was launched, and since then nothing has happened," Crumbie said. "The response was a non-response."

Crumbie acknowledged that Public Safety Commissioner John A. Danaher III has been in the post for less than a year and that the problems predate him. But legislators questioned Danaher about why three black troopers were asked to give their DNA to rule out a hair from a murder scene that may have accidentally contaminated the scene.

"It was wrong, I personally believe, to take the DNA from the three officers," Hewett said.

Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, D-Hartford, asked Danaher why there were not more minority-group members in the upper ranks of the state police.

"My God. What is this? A white club? It's time for a change. 2008 is time for a change," she said. "This department has got to change. We promise, as the black and Latino caucus, we are going to follow this. Enough is enough."

Danaher said he has taken responsibility and taken the allegations of racism within the department extremely seriously.

Regarding the incident at the state police laboratory, Danaher said there was an internal affairs investigation and discipline, although there were no transfers.

"I have read the internal affairs report. He is not aware of all the facts," Danaher said of Crumbie. "There were claims. There was an investigation and a result."

Danaher outlined a long list of actions he is taking to recruit more minority-group members from both Connecticut cities and out of state.

He said the department in the past has not been as focused on minority recruitment as it should have been, and he intends to change that. Recruiting more minority-group members and creating a larger pool of blacks and Latinos will ultimately create more supervisors from those groups, he said.

"This is not a simple solution. It is a solution that has many, many parts," Danaher said.

Besides recruitment, Danaher said more will be done to help minority members complete the state police training academy, including having study sessions before they take the written exam and being offered a mentor who is already on the job when they are going through the academy.

Correction Commissioner Theresa Lantz defended her agency, saying she has zero tolerance for racism in her department.

"The bottom line is the buck stops with me," she said. "I take that responsibility very seriously, and I will not tolerate discrimination or sexual harassment."

Contact Tracy Gordon Fox at tfox@courant.com.

For video of Andrew Crumbie speaking at a rally against discrimination, visit www.courant.com/crumbie

Copyright © 2008, The Hartford Courant

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This blogger's, Steven G. Erickson's, comment posted to the piece:

I caught part of the hearings late into them on CT-N cable channel.

Maybe less than one percent of the racial and other incidents of police misconduct are reported, never mind investigated.

Police use informants to beat each other up, beat citizens, to kill citizens, and to terrorize productive, taxpaying citizens out of communities when they complain about not being served or abused by police.

A police informant talks about beating up citizens where police then arrest his victims, not the drug dealing, police informant, thug. Keeping minorities down and out, separate and unequal, is maintained, in part, by using police informants. Todd Vashon, under oath, tells how the police informant system works:
http://video.google.com/videoplay...

This is an older video disposition. This is how the "system" works and only has gotten worse with on Civilian Oversight of Police.

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