Report details ‘inappropriate’ comments made by next Berlin police chief, including homosexual slur

Report details ‘inappropriate’ comments made by next Berlin police chief, including homosexual slur

Record-Journal


BERLIN — Inappropriate comments by Deputy Police Chief John Klett included the use of a homosexual slur and graphic sexual language with coworkers, according to an investigative report by an outside law firm.

The police commission reviewed the report before voting unanimously Saturday to promote Klett to police chief starting next month.

The investigation came in response to a complaint filed last month by police Lt. James Gosselin. The Record-Journal obtained the report by Hartford law firm Shipman & Goodman Monday through a Freedom of Information Act request.

None of Klett’s comments were found to have created a hostile work environment or constituted sexual harassment, according to the report. They were, however, “undeniably inappropriate for the workplace,” particularly “when the person making the comments is in a leadership position,” the report states.

The complaint described 10 different instances of Klett reportedly making inappropriate comments to other members of the department over the last several years. In one instance, Klett used a homosexual slur to refer to another officer’s clothing. Officers interviewed for the report, who were present during or the subject of comments, said they were not offended by the statements, which is in part why Klett’s behavior did not create a hostile work environment, according to the report.

In response to the investigation, Police Commission Chairman Robert Peters said during Saturday’s meeting that the entire department will receive sensitivity training, which was one of the report’s suggestions. The report also recommends that Klett receive sexual harassment prevention training.

During an interview Monday, Peters said the commission bears responsibility.

“We failed to do our job, we should have overseen the department with more scrutiny,” he said.

Peters said the commission took the report into consideration when appointing Klett to replace Police Chief Paul Fitzgerald, who is retiring next month.

Both Klett and Lt. Chris Ciuci, who will take the deputy chief position, will be on probation for a year following their promotions.

“A lot he doesn’t remember,” Peters said of Klett’s recollection of the comments mentioned in the complaint.

Over 15 members of the department mentioned in the complaint, including Klett, were interviewed. The investigation found that no one claimed they were offended or harassed by any of the comments by Klett.

Klett admitted some of the comments were inappropriate and said after the meeting Saturday “if you took everything I said over 30 years, some of it might be considered inappropriate. It’s locker room talk.”

The Police Commission has scheduled another meeting for Thursday at 8 a.m. to “review departmental issues with future chief and deputy chief.” Notice of the special meeting was posted on Tuesday.

Peters said the commission will discuss Klett and Ciuci’s new positions during the meeting.

akus@record-journal.com 203-317-2448 Twitter: @KusReporter


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