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NEWS > 13 May 2006

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 Article sourced from

Bristol Press - CT, United Sta
13 May 2006
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To view it in its entirity click this link.


Report says cops didnít break

BRISTOL -- After eight months, Chief Stateís Attorney Christopher Moranoís office released a report Friday that concluded the two veteran police officers accused of racism in September did not violate any state laws.


The investigation by Moranoís staff was the third and final investigation into allegations made Sept. 9, 2005 by members of the state branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and state Rep. Roger Michele, D-77th District, that two veteran police officers, Sgt. Richard Valentine and Capt. Daniel Britt, had "broadcast messages of hate" over pirated radio frequencies.


On Friday, Mayor William Stortz received a letter from Moranoís office dated May 8 clearing the two of criminal wrongdoing. Stortz said Friday night, "all three levels of the investigation exonerated us [the city and the police department]."

Police Chief John DiVenere said Friday, "It is my hope that the citizens of this community see past these allegations and continue their support of the many fine men and women of this agency."

Both Valentine and Britt retired in the months following the allegations.

In the days and weeks immediately following the allegations, Scot X. Esdaile, president of the state NAACP, brought forth other allegations of racism on the part of the entire police department and claimed the orders for officers to racially profile came "from the top."

The three independent investigations each cleared all members of the cityís police department of what DiVenere called "these distasteful allegations."

Esdaile said, "Moranoís office only looked for crimes being broken," and noted he could not comment further because he had not seen the report.

"I donít know how to judge a report I canít look at," Esdaile said.

Esdaile said the NAACP is excited, however, that in response to the allegations members of the Bristol community came together to reinstate the defunct Bristol area chapter of the national organization, and intends to hold elections at a meeting May 22.

"Weíre really excited about the Bristol branch being reinstated in the Bristol area," Esdaile said.

Valentine said Friday, "Iíve always maintained the allegations were false."

In an investigation conducted by UHY Advisors, an investigative team hired by Bristol law firm Carmody and Torrence acting on behalf of the city, it was determined the allegations were brought to the attention of the NAACP and Michele by another police officer, Bryce Linskey, whom the investigators said had a personal agenda in doing so. Linskey was quoted in that report as saying, "This is war."

According to the same report, Michele also had a long-standing feud with Britt dating back more than 15 years.

Valentine said he considered Linskey a friend for many years, but now thinks the officer "should be held responsible for his reckless behavior." He noted Linskeyís behavior directly and negatively affected the police department and the citizens trust in the police officers, as well as resulting in taxpayers being responsible for the more than $100,000 cost of the UHY investigation.

The retired sergeant also noted the members of the police department did well at maintaining the integrity their job demands.

As for Micheleís behavior in bringing forth the allegations without proof, Valentine said "he [Michele] demonstrated a blatant disrespect for the Mayor of Bristol and the Chief of Police when he circumvented them and brought this matter to the NAACP prematurely for the purpose of sensational publicity."

Michele could not be reached for comment Friday.

"I always knew what the outcome would be. Iím glad itís over and I thank my friends and supporters," Britt said Friday.

The first report, released in November, conducted by UHY, determined that Britt and Valentine did not use pirated airwaves, but rather a low frequency output that did not violate any FCC regulations for radio use. That investigation also determined that Britt and Valentine were not at any time heard making racist remarks either on the radio, or in person, by any of the more than 150 people interviewed as part of the investigation. Both Michele and NAACP officials refused to participate in that investigation.

A second report released in January that was conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice concluded simply that neither Britt nor Valentine violated any personís civil rights, which was all that particular office was investigating.

Stortz said the city is in contract negotiations with a firm specializing in diversity training, and once the contractual "glitches" are worked out every member of the police department, "from the chief to the newest officer," will receive the training. He noted in the future the training will be extended to other city departments but he believes it is important to start with the police department because they come in contact with members of the community the most often.
 

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