Officer's fear of reprisal
Newly appointed state police Col. Thomas Davoren
[click here] for my beef with Davoren
The What-If ScenarioApril 29, 2007
By TRACY GORDON FOX, Courant Staff Writer
Three masked robbers bound Bass, 65, and her boyfriend, the well-known artist Julian Lethbridge, 59, forced hoods over their heads, injected them with an unknown substance and made them ingest a bitter drink.
The robbers tried to extort $8 million from Bass by telling her they had an antidote to the injection and would supply it in return for the money, but she refused their demands. The robbers ransacked the house and wound up leaving with some cash, driving off in Bass' 2006 Jeep Cherokee. No one has been arrested so far.
In a scene right out of a "CSI" episode, Bass, Lethbridge and five responding troopers and detectives were temporarily quarantined at New Milford Hospital in case they were exposed to a contagious biohazard from the injections.
Doctors found nothing out of the ordinary after testing the victims and the troopers. The state police emergency services division responded to the scene, as well as the National Guard's decontamination unit and an FBI agent.
Now, the state police are investigating how the case of potential biological contamination was handled and why some of the troopers remained quarantined from their barracks for three days while others went back to work. Troopers who were barred from entering from the Litchfield barracks because of potential contamination also were allowed to return home, troopers say.
"I have inquired with the department, with the colonel, and had a number of concerns about how it was handled," state police union President Steven Rief said Friday.
Rief said he had concerns about how the troopers' safety was handled. He said the major crime squad, which continues to investigate and follow leads in the robbery, did its job well.
Col. Thomas Davoren, commander of the state police, said he has ordered a fact-finding inquiry into the case.
"We are looking to see what mistakes were made and what improvements are needed as we move forward," Davoren said. "If the troopers feel there was a problem, then it certainly deserves to be looked at."
Davoren, who works out of state police headquarters in Middletown and lives in eastern Connecticut, was the only member of upper management to respond to the scene about 9 p.m., nearly 12 hours after the robbery was reported. Troopers say they are perplexed as to why no one from the western district above a sergeant responded before then to guide the investigation.
"The concern here was they quarantined three uniformed troopers at the scene and then sent them home," said a trooper close to the investigation who asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisal. "If they had been contaminated, they would have brought it home to their families."
Complicating the incident was that one of the major crime squad detectives who responded to the robbery fainted on the scene, apparently because of hunger and dehydration, police said. The detectives were also sent to the hospital for observation but were allowed to return to work the next day, even though they were exposed to the scene as well, troopers said.
State police took the patrol troopers' uniforms and weapons in case of contamination and did not allow them back into the barracks until April 19, three days after the robbery.
"Any time troopers are potentially exposed to a toxic environment, the decontamination process creates a great deal of stress," Davoren said in a written statement. "We have not had to deal with this before with troopers as victims of exposure."
"It certainly gives us a new perspective and appreciation as we deal with victims of these situations," he said.
Bass reportedly received more than $200 million in her divorce 20 years ago from Sid Bass, a Texas billionaire. Police are looking into whether the robbers knew Anne Bass or possibly even worked for her on her sprawling 1,000 acre compound, where she keeps priceless antiques and art.
The stolen Jeep was found abandoned in New York. An accordion case that might contain evidence washed ashore April 20 in Jamaica Bay, Queens, and was found by beachgoers, who turned the case and its contents over to police.
One factor in the way state police responded to the robbery was that it was reported the day after the state was hit by this month's nor'easter. Troopers were responding to downed trees and power lines, and many supervisors were monitoring emergency operations centers, including in Litchfield County.
"Some of the resources brought in came from outside the state police, only because the agency was depleted," said Trooper William Tate, a state police spokesman. "Emergency services did wind up going there, and they shut down the crime scene for a while."
Tate said he did not know about the allegations that the troopers could not go into the Litchfield barracks.
"All personnel in need of medical attention were provided with medical attention," he said.
But troopers say they are baffled why management from the western district didn't respond to the scene immediately.
"You did have some flooding in Woodbury and Bethlehem. That was it," one trooper said. "You have car accidents, possible flooding, and then you have five troopers exposed to a possible chemical agent. Which one would you go to?"
Contact Tracy Gordon Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Comments on the Courant website regarding above article:
Train wreck of a state agency makes the news again.
We have an agency that is probably one of the best in the country, except for the NYSP IAD investigation. These guy have state of the art equipment, and all they do is bitch and moan about not having a supervisor above the rank of sergeant respond. If te senior ranking trooper on the scene had made a command decision, he would've have contacted another barracks or even HQ itself. I mean, they have radios and cell phones. Just drive by a trooper and you'll see the phone glued to his ear. They should've called a supervisor from another barracks to respond, especially if they thought that they were exposed to some kind of contaminant.
Quote from article:
["The concern here was they quarantined three uniformed troopers at the scene and then sent them home," said a trooper close to the investigation who asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisal. "If they had been contaminated, they would have brought it home to their families."]
Troopers and other police fear for their safety, family unity, their jobs, and of arrest and being railroaded to prison if they break the blue code of silence. Police, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and others that do not hold the line, and keep silent about official crimes, can be toasted.
There are too many elements of the "Three Stooges" and the "Sopranos" in the Connecticut State Police.
There can be completely bogus investigations, laziness, arrogance, retaliation, and obstruction of justice.
State Police Colonel Davoren is an embarrassment to the uniform.
I talked with on the phone regarding gross misconduct of officers under him when he was head of Troop C, Tolland Connecticut State Police.
Davoren's response to being faced with gross police incompetence, obstruction of justice, and police misconduct was giving me the line, "My only job is to protect the integrity of the system."
Pictures and my beef with Davoren here
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