NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Potentially-disturbing details have been uncovered in the background of a recently-hired New Haven police officer.
News 8’s Mario Boone has learned exclusively that former New Haven police chief Anthony Campbell recommended against hiring the rookie cop – whom we won’t name for his own safety – following Campbell’s suspicions the rookie might be affiliated with the violent ‘Bloods’ street gang.
Campbell cited fears that gang members, or affiliates, could infiltrate the force to “learn our tactics and procedures and most importantly” use department “insiders for information and favors,” compromising the safety of “officers and the community.”
But, the police commission unanimously overruled Campbell, voting to continue the man in the hiring process.
Internal records we obtained through a Freedom of Information request show that in 2014, while the officer-in-question worked for the State Department of Correction, allegations surfaced that he posted a picture to Facebook displaying a known gang hand sign.
During the investigation, the officer admitted he was, in fact, displaying a Bloods gang sign, but claimed it was a sign used by a rap group.
The DOC also investigated claims he passed notes between an inmate in the gang population housing unit to another prison in general lock up. In addition, DOC investigators found connections with several current and former Bloods, some of whom were “high ranking members.”
Despite concluding the man was not an actual member of the Bloods, the DOC fired the now-police-officer for “lying on his application and not disclosing associations with gang members.” However, he was rehired on appeal.
Current NHPD, Chief Tony Reyes, declined to comment when contacted by News 8’s Mario Boone. Reached by phone, Union Leader, Florencio Cotto, also offered ‘no comment’.
Anthony Dawson, head of the Police Commission, declined to speak, except to say he stands by their hiring decision.
Campbell said his recommendation not to hire was the right call, but noted, “If the board moved him through after all that was presented, and he made it through the academy, then I would say that the process has been followed.”
New Haven police released the following statement:
Chief Otoniel Reyes expressed the officer in question applied for the New Haven Police Department and subsequently went through the rigorous process, which included successful completion of a physical ability assessment, written examination, as well as the oral boards.
This officer was also subjected to a laborious and intensive background check, psychological examination, drug test, and polygraph test amongst the plethora of requirements needed before entering the police academy. The officer was presented to the Board of Police Commissioners and was moved forward for hire.
Notably, this officer proved to be an efficacious member of the police department by completing a physically and mentally challenging police academy in addition to the Field Training Officer Program. Chief Reyes expressed that the officer is currently a member in good standing.