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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

[CT] State Police whistleblowers seek help and protection

...the attorney general's office has a conflict of interest by being the clearinghouse for whistleblower reports and the legal defender of state officials and agencies accused of misdeeds... Some speakers suggested Monday that a new, independent, inspector general office be established to handle whistleblower complaints - not the attorney general...

Troopers warn of threats to morale
Connecticut Post, CT
Troopers warn of threats to morale
KEN DIXON kdixon@ctpost.com
02/26/2008
[Excerpts] State troopers on Monday warned lawmakers that there is a discouraging culture of reprisal and intimidation threatening the morale and integrity of the 1,200-member Division of State Police. Legislators, including Rep. Christopher L. Caruso, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the legislative Government Administration & Elections Committee, said they were shocked by revelations of retribution from command staff inflicted on troopers who had pending complaints requiring whistleblower protections... Trooper Steven Rief, president of the State Police Union and Sgt. Andrew Matthews joined other troopers, past and present, complaining to the committee that whistleblowers are routinely transferred and intimidated... the climate is self-perpetuating because the management hierarchy is made up of veterans "with old ways of thinking" who don't change... "If we're willing to die for perfect strangers, who's protecting our rights?" Matthews said. "If I have to lay my life on the line, I'll do that. Our badge was tarnished already, but I'm trying to bring a shine to it... I have been isolated in my cruiser for the last year," Matthews said, adding that relying on the state Attorney General's office for protection hasn't helped... "It seems that our whole system to protect the integrity of the State Police has failed," said Rep. James A. O'Rourke III, D-Cromwell... "There definitely needs to be stronger safeguards for these courageous men and women who stepped forward and exposed wrongdoing or incompetence," ]Attorney General Richard] Blumenthal said in an interview.
Conn.: Whistleblowers Face Retaliation
The Associated Press
By SUSAN HAIGH Associated Press Writer
Feb. 25, 2008
[Excerpts] Several state police officers who blew the whistle on alleged corruption appeared Monday before a legislative committee, complaining they are now the targets of retaliation by higher-ups. The whistleblowers want the legislature to change state law and provide more protections to those who report wrongdoing. "I have nothing to gain from being here today. I could actually lose a lot more," Sgt. Andrew Matthews, told members of the Government Administration and Elections Committee. The 10-year officer went to the attorney general's office in 2004 and reported managers concealing internal affairs investigations and covering up crimes of particular state troopers. Since that report, and a subsequent outside investigation by New York State Police, Matthews said he's been ostracized and harassed... "The message that is being sent here for whistleblowers is shut up and cover up," said Master Sgt. Theresa Freeman, another state police whistleblower who provided information for the New York State Police report. "No one wants to go through what Andy Matthews went through"... Lt. Benjamin Pagoni, a state police veteran of more than 30 years, said he's been subjected to numerous internal investigations since he stuck up for Matthews... "Since I started to work with Sgt. Matthews, my life has been hell"... The union representing state troopers is backing a bill this session that would allow the attorney general or a human rights referee from the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to intervene if a whistleblower encounters retaliation. "There's no teeth in the statutes to protect whistleblowers when they're retaliated against," said Steven Rief, the union president. But Matthews said the attorney general's office has a conflict of interest by being the clearinghouse for whistleblower reports and the legal defender of state officials and agencies accused of misdeeds. He told of appearing at a hearing alone where his superiors were represented by private lawyers hired by the attorney general's office... Some speakers suggested Monday that a new, independent, inspector general office be established to handle whistleblower complaints - not the attorney general... Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said there are "stringent rules that strictly separate the attorneys and counsel to the agencies... If any appearance of a conflict arises, my office can - and sometimes does - retain outside counsel to represent state officials or agencies... I will not hesitate to exercise that option - when necessary and appropriate - of the legislature grants my office the power to protect whistleblowers from retaliation." Blumenthal supports the bill before the GAE committee. But he told reporters he did not rule out an inspector general. "If an inspector general is viable and cost effective, I certainly wouldn't oppose it per se," he said. "I'm willing to consider whatever makes sense to make sure whistleblowers are protected and their complaints vindicated when they have merit."

2006 News:

Report rips state police

The Hartford Courant
Tracy Gordon Fox
December 5, 2006
[Excerpts] A scathing 168-page report on the state police internal affairs unit has found the very structure designed to promote integrity within the department to be riddled with misconduct and improper influence. Some of the 19 internal affairs cases investigated by the New York State Police may lead to criminal charges or disciplinary action against troopers involved in sexual assaults, domestic violence, drunk driving and larceny, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. The report, which calls for an overhaul of the unit, prompted Gov. M. Jodi Rell to order an independent commission to oversee its reform... The report points the finger at top managers and raises questions about the ability of the department's elite major crime squad to investigate criminal allegations... Col. Edward Lynch, commander of the state police, who announced his retirement Friday, said the timing had nothing to do with the report... Investigators from the New York State Police, a department recognized internationally as a leader in internal affairs, found that Connecticut's state police command staff improperly interfered with and influenced internal affairs cases, and that citizens' complaints were regarded as nuisances rather than legitimate cases warranting investigation... 11 New York investigators conducted 262 interviews, and spent 9,500 hours on the investigation... and the team of investigators issued more than 60 recommendations, including making the internal affairs division completely autonomous, and having its supervisor hold the rank of lieutenant colonel or higher. The report recommends a centralized complaint system for the public, including a way to make complaints via the Internet... There were several instances of domestic violence by troopers for which there were no arrests or discipline, the report says...

4 comments:

  1. ...Investigators from the New York State Police, a department recognized internationally as a leader in internal affairs, found that Connecticut's state police command staff improperly interfered with and influenced internal affairs cases, and that citizens' complaints were regarded as nuisances rather than legitimate cases warranting investigation...

    ReplyDelete
  2. My ex-wife was ordered byt the judge on 8/07/08 to let me have my children for the weekend 7:00pm friday 8/08/08 to 7:00pm Sunday 08/10/08. There was to be a supervisor with me ( Witness) I brought the witness. My ex-wife AT FISRT didnt want to have my oldest girl come with me (9yrs old) she had plans to go to a party. I was ok with that. I started to bring the 2 other girls 6 and 5 years old to my car. When I was putting the girls in my car, my ex wife made a comment about soccor pratice and a few other minor things, The witness told her to put the girls and the car and not to start any trouble. my ex-wife sudddenly and violently grab my 2 yougest girls 6 and 5 years old. She dragged them across a parking lot and back into her home. I called the stratford, CT police department at 7:06 pm. 8/08/08. They came in force. 3 police cars and a personal vechilce. The personal vechicle was a police officer that is DATING MY EX WIFE> I was conforted and started to tell them what happen. The Officer that is my ex-wifes boyfriend Went into the house with 2 of the officers. while the other officer took my name and the witnesses name. He wrote this down. I explained to him what happen and that the officers needed to check if my children were injured when my ex-wife dragged them across the parking lot. The office did not listen. and didnt write anything down When the other officers came to me after speaking with my ex-wife they told me that they could have arrested me and that I was cursing and Yelling and causing a domestic disturbence. The witness quilcky informed the police on what happened, They did not listen. The witness and I both explained that my children might have been hurt while being dragged across the parking lot. They still would not check my children. and told be to be on my way. I asked for my report number and was given a report number. and I left the sceen and the police also left without checking to see if there were any injuries to my children after being dragged across the parking lot.

    bears_06880@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just curious - how do you know that the officers inside the house didn't check the children,

    or that police are sleeping with your ex?

    Why was your "witness" telling your ex to not share info that another caring parent might want to know?

    Who did you pick to be your witness - that felt that emboldened to tell the ex that she can't speak?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ironic that Andy Matthews was afraid and stayed in his cruiser for a year doing nothing his final year of law school and while studying for his bar exam. Any other Trooper refusing to assume duty would have been terminated. He then sued Blumenthal when the protection to do nothing ended. As Connecticut State Police Union President he then ENDORSES a man in legal briefs he said conspired to endanger him. Ask Andy how often he went on patrol or if he has ever supervised a patrol shift. The answer is NO.

    ReplyDelete

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