Central Connecticut State University has released a report on the investigation into how the university police department handled allegations of the sexual assault of one of its own officers as well as other personnel and climate matters within the department. Among the findings were that the police department had a "fraternity-like environment."
The university president has also placed the Chief Administrative Officer, who was responsible for management of the police department, on leave and hired an assistant to the president for safety to identify and “correct defective procedures, policies, and training, evaluate staffing levels and budgetary issues.”
Central Connecticut State University President Zulma R. Toro had ordered the investigation into the CCSU Police Department.
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The university said a reported sexual assault of a female CCSU police officer by a male CCSU police officer and an investigation the University’s Office of Diversity and Equity conducted on it compelled Toro to hire the Hartford law firm Shipman & Goodwin LLP to conduct an independent investigation.
“I am deeply disturbed and saddened by the investigation findings,” Toro stated in a news release issued Friday morning. “There is significant evidence that the sexual assault complaint by one of the department’s own officers was inappropriately handled when the incident was first reported in 2016. I am particularly troubled as to how the department’s chain of command did not, in a timely manner, conduct an investigation when the sexual assault was first reported.”
CCSU outlined what the investigators found, including:
- Several police officers were hired by the CCSU Police Department even though background checks found evidence of significant discipline or other disqualifying performance issues in their past.
- An informal environment exists within the department, including relaxed professional standards and a fraternity-like environment, including inappropriate behavior, banter, or horseplay.
- Required sexual harassment prevention and other trainings are not taken seriously and serve as additional evidence that diversity and equity principles are not respected and that there is a pervasive use of inappropriate gender labels for women and perception that the work of females is subjected to harsher criticism.
The four-month investigation began in January 2018 and included a review of records and dozens of interviews with the department’s police officers and employees and several University administrators and staff, according to CCSU.
CCSU has hired Bernard R. Sullivan, the retired Commissioner of Public Safety and former Hartford Police Chief, to serve as CCSU’s Assistant to the President for Safety.
He will oversee the police department and will also be responsible for identifying and correcting defective procedures, policies, and training, evaluating staffing levels and budgetary issues.
Based on the report’s findings, Chief Administrative Officer Richard Bachoo has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation, according to CCSU. His responsibilities included management of the police department.
Toro also has also changed how background checks of police department candidates are managed and the Office of Human Resources, rather than the police department, will supervise and evaluate the collection of background information.
Mark Ojakian, president, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, released a statement after CCSU released the report.
“Today, Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) released a report that is the result of an internal investigation ordered by President Toro into the CCSU Campus Police Department. I, along with the Board of Regents for Higher Education, am deeply disturbed about the report’s findings and the alleged conduct by certain CCSU police officers and CCSU administrators.
“Let me say plainly, we will not tolerate any staff engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior or failing to take swift and appropriate action when incidents are reported.
“The initial investigation, which began late last year, the hiring of an outside law firm, and the decision to the put CCSU Police Department under special supervision were all initiated by President Toro who has responded quickly and decisively.
“I also support bringing in Bernie Sullivan, former State Police Commissioner and former Hartford Police Chief to oversee the CCSU Police Department. I have known Bernie for years and fully trust his ability to restore professionalism to the Department and take any disciplinary action that may be appropriate,” Ojakian said in a statement.