New Haven police continue probe into alleged falsifying of background checks

NEW HAVEN -- A background check scandal in the New Haven police department has let the chief "beyond disheartened."

Two now former officers, Leah Russo and Kristian Ramirez, resigned last week when it was learned they had falsified background checks of police officer recruits. The investigation into the alleged improprieties will delay the start date for the new class of 39 recruits, which were due to be hired today and report to the police academy Monday.

Chief Anthony Campbell said Russo and Ramirez, who were only cops for a couple of years, both broke the police code "of integrity and honesty, of which this department prides itself."

The two worked in the department that completes background checks on officer candidates. The red flag went up when one candidate told the Board of Police Commissioners he became concerned when, while reviewing his own background check, he noticed one of the officers claimed to have spoken to a reference, who is actually dead.

"Once that was brought to our attention, we started looking into it and found that that was in this case a reality," said Campbell.

Campbell said Russo and Ramirez have combined to falsify more than 17 officer candidate background checks.

"I have started to implement new safeguards that will ensure that a deceptive act, such as this, cannot and will not happen again," Campbell said. "The weight of what they were fabricating is low on the scale."

He expanded on that by saying none of the information falsified was negative toward any of the police officer candidates.

"I’ve been in consultation regarding criminal charges with the State's Attorneys office, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s office," said Campbell, who noted he once worked in the background check unit.

Campbell said everyone who has been working in the background checks department will have their files reviewed.

It should be noted, that the police department often times conducts background checks for the New Haven Fire Department, which just graduated 37 new firefighters.

Both Russo and Ramirez have resigned.