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Mayor and Union President speak out on Hartford Police harassment case

HARTFORD -- New developments Thursday surrounding the sexual harassment complaint that a Hartford Police Officer filed against her former supervisor. It’s a story you saw first on Fox 61, and today, the Mayor and Union President are speaking out about how it was handled.

Officer Kelly Baerga did not make herself available for an interview, but she wants her story told. We also called Sgt. Andrew Rodney. He answered, but told me he had no additional comment. He admitted Wednesday, on the record, to saying two specific comments that Baerga found offensive, but told me he didn’t mean any disrespect.

“We are very disappointed in the Hartford Police Department Administration handling of the entire situation,” said Hartford Police Union President John Szewczyk.

You saw it first on Fox 61. Hartford Police Officer and LGBTQ Liaison, Kelly Baerga’s eight page memo that documents incidents of alleged sexual harassment by her former supervisor, Sgt. Andrew Rodney. She also alleges administrative negligence. Baerga said it, “negatively impacted not just my work life, but also my personal life and health.” She alleges, “gross misconduct by favored employees,” and says the Hartford Police, “Failed to ensure my fundamental right of a sexual and gender bias-free work environment.”

The internal memo chronicles interaction with Rodney where Baerga claims he made comments like, “Kelly is not a real lady,” and others too graphic for television, including one that she said intended to “out her” to a fellow officer.

Baerga says she complained to her chiefs last May, but it was 9 months before she heard from Internal Affairs. “Here we are trying to recruit more female officers and this administration is sending a really poor message,” said Szewczyk.

Mayor Luke Bronin told Fox 61 he believes it did take too long. “I believe we have an obligation to investigate any complaints like this, not only thoroughly but also swiftly. I hope that this get complete and concluded as soon as possible because on its face it’s take too long.

Baerga claims Sgt. Rodney was given preferential treatment because of his support for Mayor Bronin, who can be seen standing behind the mayor as he announced his campaign for re-election. “I can unequivocally tell you that no one was given or will ever be given preferential treatment,” said Mayor Bronin.

Coincidentally, Thursday was the day a public hearing was held on Senate Bill 402, which would create a state office to investigate complaints against police officers. State Sen. Dennis Bradley proposed the bill. “I think it’s a case study of exactly what we are trying to do here,” he said.

The bill would take investigations out of the hands of Internal Affairs and city HR departments. “So these are people who’ve made their bones through the police academy together who are now being forced to report on each other internally and adjudicate those things internally. On its face it doesn’t create fairness,” explained Sen. Bradley.

Mayor Bronin said he believes it was appropriate that Sgt. Rodney was immediately transferred and a formal investigation was opened once the original complaint was made.

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