CCSU announces changes in campus police department after report on sexual assault allegations

NEW BRITAIN -- Central Connecticut State University released a report Thursday on changes after the investigation into the handling of two sexual assault allegations involving the campus police department.

Central Connecticut State University President Zulma R. Toro announced actions aimed at restoring professionalism to the CCSU Police Department and rebuilding trust within the department and with the CCSU campus and community.

A report released in June by independent investigators focused on behavioral, procedural, and staffing issues in the department. Former Hartford Police Chief, Bernard R. Sullivan, took over management of the CCSU Police Department. The school said he would be reviewing and implementing changes in the force's policies, procedures and staffing.

“He has worked with us to identify deficiencies, address critical issues, and instituted several new policies and procedures. The culture within the Police Department is improving, and I am confident this will continue as our police force works to regain its stature as a professional, caring partner in making the CCSU campus a safe and welcoming environment for all,”  Toro said in a statement.

The investigation highlighted the alleged sexual assault of a female CCSU police officer by Officer Curtis Lollar. In June, Sullivan recommended that the administration “make every effort to keep Officer Lollar from returning to the department due to the nature of his behavior as determined by the investigation.” Lollar was let go from the department on September. 21.

The report corroborated the independent investigators findings that a culture of unprofessional and disrespectful behavior existed within the department, discipline was lacking, and that there were deficiencies in staffing, hiring, and budget.

The school is or will be implementing the following:

Training

  • Since July 2018, all Police Department supervisors attended a two-hour, in-person sexual harassment prevention training.
  • In September, several police officers attended a training about strategies for working with sexual violence victims.
  • The entire department will undergo sexual harassment and Title IX training while the University is on winter break.
  • Supervisors will undergo training in areas such as evaluating staff and using progressive discipline and positive reinforcement with subordinates to enhance performance.

Policies & Procedures

  • A new disciplinary policy is in place requiring police supervisors to review employee personnel files prior to issuing any counseling or discipline. This will ensure they are aware of any prior offenses and any discipline is reflected in evaluations. The police chief is required to conduct an annual inspection to ensure these procedures are compliant.
  • A new background investigation sign-off has been implemented requiring multiple layers of review. It provides solid documentation as to the candidate’s position and prevents any single individual from having the final approval for hiring.
  • Pre-background questionnaires will require candidate signatures to be notarized and affirmed as truthful. This will make it easier to decertify officers if, later, facts reveal the candidate was untruthful.

Staffing & Budget

  • The Police Department budget has been separated from the Administrative Services budget and is receiving $282,000 annually in additional funding.
  • A new police sergeant will be hired.
  • Two vacant police officer positions are being reclassified to positions of sergeants.
  • Two vehicles will be purchased for the two new sergeants.
  • The student cadet program is hiring five or more additional students.
  • Three police recruits were hired in July, have been undergoing training at the Police Academy in Meriden, and will begin full-time duty in January 2019.
  • A full-time, seasoned administrative assistant was reassigned to work with the department.
  • A clerk typist position has been converted to an administrative assistant position.

Sullivan said the problems were “caused by a lack of proper oversight by the previous administration. As the university grew in size, appropriate supervisory control did not keep up with that growth,” he said. "With proper supervision, there is no reason to believe the department and its individual officers cannot provide appropriate police services to the campus community.”

CSCU President Mark Ojakian released a statement:

“These reports are the culmination of an investigation that began almost a year ago under Dr. Toro’s direction. I support the swift action taken and any further actions necessary down the road in order to restore professionalism within the CCSU Police Department. I want to personally thank Bernie Sullivan for his help and expertise. I’m going to repeat what I’ve said before: We do not tolerate inappropriate sexual behavior and we do not tolerate failures by staff to take action when reported.”