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Hartford Mayor Reprimands Police Chief, City Council Pauses Further Punishment

Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody, pictured here during a June 1 Black Lives Matter protest in the city, will have to pay for damages he caused to a city vehicle in a May 31 crash in Haddam.

Hartford’s city council voted down a resolution to suspend its police chief Monday night, the same day the mayor cited the chief for a crash in a city vehicle.

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According to Connecticut State Police, Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody ran his Chevrolet Tahoe into a guardrail in Haddam on May 31. On Monday, Mayor Luke Bronin gave Thody a letter of reprimand for his handling of the incident and required him to pay back the $3,300 it cost to fix the vehicle.

At a meeting Monday, a majority of Hartford Court of Common Council members voted against further punishment of the chief, pending a city investigation.

“I am not going to put any human being’s faith or make a determination without a due process and with[out] having all of the facts in front of me,” said council President Maly Rosado, who voted in that majority.

Regarding the crash, Thody eventually told a state investigator that he reached for his cellphone as he drove into the guardrail. In the written reprimand, Bronin acknowledged that Thody drove “distractedly,” but he said the chief was trying to get to Hartford to respond to protests in the city. He also said Thody was supposed to call local or state police immediately after a collision, which the chief didn’t do.

“We have credible evidence that he was driving in a reckless way in a city car,” said Councilman Josh Michtom, who supported suspending the chief.

“If we know this, and then he still has his car and he’s still doing his job and he goes and does another similar reckless thing -- maybe he hits another guardrail or hits a person -- I think we’re very much on the hook as his employer for not having taken action when we had the chance,” Michtom said.

Before Monday’s council meeting, some Hartford residents called for Thody’s firing during the public comment session.

“I think we are in a time where police accountability and transparency is so important, and as a city, we keep saying that things are important and paramount to us,” said Emily Napier. “Yet, our actions aren’t supporting that.”

Bronin said in his letter of reprimand that he still has full confidence in Thody.

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