Hartford officer used racial slurs during DUI arrest: Police

Robert Lanza

PLAINVILLE — Authorities say a Hartford police officer charged over the weekend with driving under the influence used racial and ethnic slurs during his arrest.

Hartford Police Deputy Chief Brian Foley says an investigation is underway after Robert Lanza’s arrest Sunday morning in Plainville.

Town police say officers stopped the 11-year Hartford police veteran after reports of an erratic driver on state Route 72. Authorities say Lanza slurred his words and smelled of alcohol but refused to say if he’d had anything to drink.

In a letter penned to the Hartford community, Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley assured residents that the officer’s alleged actions would be addressed through an internal investigation:

As many of you may have already heard, on August 27, 2017 the Hartford Police Department was contacted by the Plainville Police Department regarding the arrest of a Hartford Police Department detective in Plainville CT. Robert Lanza was arrested early Sunday morning in Plainville CT. He was charged with Driving While Under the Influence and Interfering with an Officer. Upon notification, the Hartford Police Department Internal Affairs Division initiated an immediate investigation. Yesterday, during our initial review of the incident we discovered and confirmed that during his arrest, Detective Lanza used several ethnic/racial slurs. These comments were captured on audio and video. While this has not yet been shared with the media, we wanted our closest community partners to hear it from us first. We also want to assure you that while these offensive comments are not a part of the criminal charges, they will be specifically addressed in our administrative investigation and outcome. At this time Detective Lanza has been assigned to internal administrative duties within the Detective Bureau. We will keep you updated as this investigation progresses. As always, Chief Rovella or myself are personally available to discuss this issue, or any issue you feel is necessary. Maintaining your trust and our relationships is our highest priority. Thank you.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin also issued a statement, which stated that the officer’s behavior was “far short” of the Hartford Police Department’s high standards:

We expect all members of the Hartford Police Department to hold themselves to the high standards of their noble profession, and Detective Lanza’s behavior appears to have fallen far short. I am deeply troubled by his use of racial and ethnic slurs during this incident, which is not only offensive and unacceptable, but also undermines the tremendous work our police do every day to build a true partnership with our Hartford community based on trust and respect. I commend Chief Rovella for immediately initiating an internal investigation, and for the Department’s ongoing commitment to transparency and accountability.

According to Hartford Police, Lanza used several ethnic/racial slurs. These comments were captured on audio and video.

Police say the 44-year-old man was unsteady on his feet and wouldn’t take sobriety tests.

Lanza has been assigned to internal administrative duties within the Detective Bureau.

Lanza is also charged with interfering with an officer.