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Now that he's back, New London police chief says his focus is on future

New London — Now that he is back to work, Chief Brian Wright said he intends to keep a positive attitude in the face of a complaint by an officer at the department that led to six weeks of administrative leave just three months after being named the city’s first Black police chief.

Attorney Michael Rose, the outside investigator hired by the city to investigate claims of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment and retaliation, cleared Wright for a return to work last week.

Rose, in a heavily redacted summary of his findings provided to The Day on Wednesday, concluded the claims by the officer — whose name is redacted from the document — were either unsubstantiated or, in the case of the sexual harassment claim, did not rise to the level of harassment. Rose found the claim of retaliation “unfounded.”

Wright declined to comment on any of the specifics of the complaint in an interview with The Day on Wednesday.

“For me to be negative is counterproductive,” he said. “I have to keep my eye and focus on the future, the members of the department ... and on providing the best services available to the citizens in the community. It benefits no one to dwell. It's important to stay positive and move forward.”

The city released the original three-page complaint against Wright with heavy redactions that hide details of the allegations and the name of the complaining officer. City Attorney Jeffrey Londregan said the documents were redacted to remove details that, in the opinion of the city, “would violate and/or invade the personal privacy of individuals referenced and/or City employees.”

Multiple sources inside and outside the department told The Day the complaint was filed by Lt. Jeffrey Kalolo, who was the subject of an internal investigation based on a 2019 complaint by Detective Melissa Schafranski-Broadbent, who alleged sexual harassment, intimidation and inappropriate and unequal treatment because she is a woman. She has additionally filed a lawsuit.

Wright, when he was a captain, completed the internal investigation into the allegations and the mayor’s office recently demoted Kalolo to the rank of sergeant for at least a year as a result of several department violations. The police union has filed a grievance over Kalolo’s punishment.

Kalolo did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday, and the union declined to comment.

The complaint

Kalolo, in his complaint filed on Oct. 6 against Wright, argues the internal investigation, which is detailed in a document of more than 700 pages, was biased.

“I have gone over his report and found that of my (redacted) year as a police officer, (redacted) years a supervisors this is the most bias investigation I have seen,” the complaint reads. “I believe Chief Wright has used this investigation, and his position in the department to retaliate against me because, I wouldn’t (redacted).”

Rose concluded that Wright “brought no animus” to the internal investigation. Notably, Rose said no one ever sought to remove Wright from the investigation or reference any prior issue between Wright and Kalolo.

Kalolo also alleges that in 2019 Wright “made on numerous occasions extremely inappropriate sexual remarks to me while we were both on duty.”

The details of the comments are redacted from the document provided by the city. Kalolo, in the complaint, said he responded to Wright’s remarks by saying, “I feel uncomfortable with this conversation, in hopes the unwanted and inappropriate remarks and gestures would stop.”

In his report, Rose said he interviewed a number of officers and former department employees.

“I find that during the period of 2019, (and likely before and after) there was a group of officers who engaged in ‘locker room banter.' The banter included teasing by both Chief Wright and (redacted) directed at each other. That teasing and banter was occasionally of a (redacted) nature, and sometimes involved (redacted) double entendre. Chief Wright acknowledged his rare participation in these and numerous witnesses confirmed (redacted) role as a prankster and occasional participant,” Rose wrote.

“However, uncivil speech is not illegal under Title VII and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act,” Rose wrote. He concluded that whatever banter occurred, “it was not severe and pervasive.”

Wright called the accusations “serious, disturbing and upsetting.”

Wright said because of the recent turmoil at the department, which included the sudden retirement of former Chief Peter Reichard and his own suspension, he remains focused on the work at hand and is blessed to have a department of professionals who continue to work for the betterment of the community.

He concluded the conversation with one of his favorite sayings: “It’s a marathon and not a sprint.”

And while Wright is back on the job, Neville Brooks also remains in city employment. Brooks, a retired deputy chief of the Hartford Police Department, filled in for Wright during Wright’s suspension and was named as department superintendent by Mayor Michael Passero.

When asked how long Brooks might stay at the department, Passero said that remains unclear.

“I am thankful for Superintendent Brooks’ leadership of the department during Chief Wright’s absence but Chief Wright is now back and fully in charge of the department,” Passero said. “My staff, in consultation with the chief and superintendent, are currently evaluating the future role of the superintendent.”

Passero said there are no immediate plans to create a deputy police chief position and that conversation would be made in consultation with the City Council during deliberations on the fiscal year 2023 budget.


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