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Montville police officer probe still under review

By Jeffrey A. Johnson

Publication: The Day

Published September 22. 2012 4:00AM
Allegations of misusing computer and harassment remain unresolved

Montville - The town has not taken any disciplinary action against its highest-ranking police officer nearly three months after it received the results of a state police investigation that centered on the officer's alleged misuse of a computer criminal database.

Lt. Leonard Bunnell, who has worked for the police department for more than 30 years, continues to work for the town.

Bunnell was also accused of harassment by Karen Moorehead, the police department's school resource officer. Allegations made nearly a year ago by Moorehead that Bunnell made inappropriate comments about her appearance and intimidated her were investigated by a workplace harassment committee and its report on the matter is complete.

Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr., who by charter is the town's police chief, said earlier this week that he continues to work daily on a review of the complaint and state police investigation on the allegations against Bunnell. He declined further comment.

The Day has filed Freedom of Information requests with the town seeking documents pertaining to Moorehead's complaint and a copy of the state police investigation. A request was also made with the state police legal affairs unit to obtain a copy of the latter report.

The Day has filed a complaint against the town with the state Freedom of Information Commission in an attempt to compel the town to release the Moorehead complaint, which was requested in April. The Day's complaint is pending. Attorneys for the town and state police said this week they intend to release the state police report, but first must redact certain personal information of a sensitive nature.

Bunnell was being investigated by state police because of his alleged misuse of the Connecticut On-Line Law Enforcement Communications Teleprocessing system. A biannual audit of the system found several "anomalies" involving Bunnell. There were 38 instances under review in which state police investigated whether proper protocol was used when accessing the system. The Day has requested the names of those who were alleged to be investigated.

The COLLECT system provides in-state criminal justice data and provides authorized users access to two national systems - the FBI's National Crime Information Center and the International Justice and Public Safety Information Sharing Network.

Town Councilor Gary Murphy, who said he considers Bunnell a personal friend, said union procedures have partly resulted in the long wait to learn about how the town will act in the Bunnell case. He said McDaniel, who as mayor is tasked with handling personnel matters, is making attempts to ensure the town is not involved in a future lawsuit.

Murphy also said he believes Bunnell's alleged misuse of the COLLECT system may be overblown.

"From what I've heard, he's running background checks on people working with our children," Murphy said recently. "From what I know, it's not that serious of an offense."

Bunnell is in charge of providing day-to-day oversight of administrative matters and scheduling of personnel. The police department has a resident state trooper system in place and Sgt. Martin Martinez is tasked with supervising the operations of the department.

jeff.johnson@theday.com

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