HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A Hartford police detective has been demoted and charged with conduct unbecoming of a police officer after he proposed a betting pool related to the location of the first homicide of 2021.
Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody announced the news Monday.
Detective Jeffrey Placzek will be suspended without pay for 120 days. His return to the department is contingent on passing a fitness for duty evaluation as well as completing a restorative justice program.
There is an ongoing investigation into the members of the department who received the text from Placzek. Chief Thody reported the investigation began Friday and he expects it to be completed by the end of next week.
Effective immediately, Lieutenant Paul Cicero, who supervises the Major Crimes Division in which Detective Placzek served, was one of the recipients of the text message and will be removed from his role as the department’s public information officer. He is suspended from overseeing the Major Crimes Division pending the outcome of the investigation.
Cicero and other supervisors who received the text message potentially face additional discipline based on the outcome of the investigation.
“When I read this text message, I was disgusted, angry and disappointed,” Chief Thody said in a statement. “The idea that one of our detectives would discuss betting in any way on a tragedy is appalling.”
Officer Placzek’s conduct was unacceptable and damaging both to our department and our community, and today I am demoting him and imposing a four-month suspension without pay.
It is critical that every member of the Hartford Police Department conduct themselves in a way that builds and strengthens a relationship of trust with our community, and this conduct undermined that relationship and undermined the work of every single officer on our force.
In addition to his demotion and lengthy suspension, I am also making his return to the department contingent on passing a fitness for duty evaluation and participation in a community-based restorative justice program, which we will design in consultation with community leaders.
When I read this text message, I was disgusted, angry, and disappointed. The idea that one of our detectives would discuss betting in any way on a tragedy is appalling. I have heard from many members of our community who are distraught about this, and I want them to know that I share their anger.
I am also taking this action to demonstrate to everyone in our department that, as professional police officers, even on our worst days, and no matter how many difficult and painful things we see every day, we must maintain the high standards of conduct that our community rightly expects of us – the most important of which is a deep and fundamental respect for every single person we serve in this community.”
In addition, the fact that it appears several supervisors took no documented action and did not report it to me after receiving the text is completely unacceptable.
The investigation I issued on Friday is ongoing, and I expect it to be completed by the end of next week.
Any supervisor who saw this text message and did nothing in response will also face discipline, and all the circumstances of this text will be investigated.
To me, the fact that there ultimately was no betting pool does not change the fact that this warranted a serious response.
The Major Crimes Division has done tremendous work this year working hand in hand with the community, and this text message directly opposes the spirit of that work and the results that they’ve gotten, solving serious crimes and bringing perpetrators of violence to justice at an unprecedented rate.”
Police report Detective Placzek is a 16-year veteran of the force and has no prior disciplinary record “beyond one instance of documented counseling related to an incident where he damaged an elevator button with his foot, which he self-reported.”
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin issued the statement regarding the investigation and demotion of Detective Placzek:
“The officer who sent this message demonstrated a profound disrespect for our community and a deeply troubling lack of judgment. Chief Thody has imposed serious discipline, including both demotion in rank and a lengthy four-month suspension without pay, which I support, and I expect that additional discipline will be coming for supervisors who received this message and failed to take action.”