Harassment Allegations against Hartford Police Department

Michelle Brodsky, Staff Editor

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As social and political tensions continue to escalate on a national level, many seemingly forget that change starts at home. By getting involved in local politics and working tirelessly to change the status quo, individuals can often have a bigger impact locally than nationally.

 

Just recently, the Hartford Police Department was accused of adhering to a misogynist culture by supposedly harassing a female officer. There are 403 officers in the precinct but only fourteen percent are female. While this might seem low, it is actually pretty consistent with the national average. Answers to why this disparity exists range from misogyny to the simple truth that police work is a male-dominated culture because men apply more and are perhaps more efficient. Regardless of the spin put on things, the fact remains that Officer Kelly Baerga, the department’s liaison to the LGBT community and a recruiter of female officers has received a second harassment complaint from a female officer. “She alleges she was involuntarily transferred as retaliation for rejecting a superior officer’s sexual advances,” and believes that the work culture is “toxic” for women in her position.

 

“Gannon Long, a community organizer and resident of the city’s Frog Hollow neighborhood,” said that  for every woman officer willing to come forward, there are  likely others suffering in silence or choosing to not come forward in fear of derailing their career. While this would indeed be an egregious circumstance, it is merely speculation at this point. Nonetheless, something must be done to protect the female officers that have already come forward, while still remembering that their alleged accuser is innocent until proven guilty.

 

Mayor Luke Bronin said in an interview that the complaint process was not doing enough to help those in need and he is “taking seriously the concerns he is hearing from the LGBTQ community and from women who have been expressing a distrust of the police department.” He went on to say that an independent investigator would look into the accusations and that examination of internal issues is planned. While the harassments charges are indeed terrible and need to be investigated thoroughly, it is important to remember that at the moment they remain just that-charges and not facts, and until they are verified as facts, the Hartford Police Department ought not to be labeled as misogynistic or harassers as this would be libel.[1]

[1]Josh Kovner, “Hartford Police Department Struggling With Internal Culture as Complaints From Women Officers Continue,” Hartford Courant, https://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-news-hartford-police-sexual-harassment-20190301-xlykfa3kzbdzxf54b6zzjbeymu-story.html (Accessed 05 March 2019).

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