Dispatcher Put On Leave After Using Racist Epithet On Radio

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HARTFORD — A city dispatcher was placed on immediate administrative leave on Wednesday after Mayor Pedro Segarra was made aware of a radio transmission in which the dispatcher may have used a racist epithet, a city spokesperson said.

The dispatcher, whose name was not released by city officials, will remain on leave from the city’s Emergency Services and Telecommunications department pending further investigation, said Maribel La Luz, spokesperson for the mayor’s office.

Director of ES&T Andrew Jaffee said he discussed the issue with the mayor Wednesday afternoon and is complying with Segarra’s orders.

An internal review done this week by a public safety communications supervisor with ES&T concluded that the comment was inadvertent and did not rise to the level of unprofessional conduct, according to a statement released by La Luz. Other dispatchers who were in the area at the time were interviewed and said they felt the radio transmission was a mispronunciation of the word “neighbor.”

The dispatcher has been an employee for more than three years, is well-liked by his peers and has never before been accused of using racist or derogatory words, according to the statement.

The radio transmission was made on Monday night. Segarra listened to an audio recording the transmission on Wednesday.

“Mayor Segarra has no tolerance for usage of the “N” word or any other words that can be associated with hate speech,” said La Luz.

By Kelly Glista, Hartford Courant

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