Police Corruption in Hartford, CT

There’s police corruption and then there’s police corruption. The Hartford Courant reports that former Hartford, Connecticut, police officer Julio Comacho admitted in court that he “handcuffed a woman, drover her in his cruiser to a construction site and raped her over the trunk of the car.”

Why would Comacho openly confess to the rape? Because investigators have connected him to criminal sexual acts with at least two other women and this was part of a plea agreement. But that’s hardly the end of Comacho’s legal troubles. Comacho’s girlfriend, Rosa Delgado, was murdered and beheaded and the 4 year-old daughter of Delgado and Comacho disappeared. Guess who the prime suspect is?

There are always going to be bad apples on a police force. Is it fair to condemn the Hartford police as a whole for the actions of a single rogue cop? Perhaps not, but according to the Courant, Comacho is the seventh former Hartford officer to be convicted of on-duty sex crimes.

In fact the Hartford police department has been the subject of a wide ranging corruption probe initiated by the state attorney general’s office that included numerous criminal sexual assaults (in one case officers told a suspected prostitute that they would arrest her if they didn’t perform sex acts with the officers), botched cases that sent innocent people to jail and possibly even several murders. In 1999, the FBI was reportedly investigating Hartford officers’ connection to at least three murders, including the Delgado case.

The problem in Hartford is largely the same as it is in other areas that have had problems with police corruption — a complete lack of accountability at the highest levels of police administration. The officers charged in the recent corruption probe brought to 16 the number of officers charge with crimes since police chief Joseph F. Croughwell Jr. took over in January 1994. Yet after the story broke, several Hartford city council members were quick to defend Croughwell for reducing crime in Hartford.

Detective Stanley Wasilewski, however, laid the blame at Croughwell’s feet telling the Courant, “I blame Croughwell. Problems here just fester. There have been complaints involving cops and prostitutes going back before 1990 and nothing gets done. Supervisors have stopped turning [wayward subordinates] in because discipline is selective — it depends on who you are.”

Some officers within the police department apparently told a grand jury that the entire department was lax about filing paper work and incident reports, and that records related to the activities of the officers accused of misconduct were destroyed.

Sources:

Ex-City Officer Admits Rape. Josh Kovner, The Hartford Courant, February 6, 2001.

Police Chief’s Job Safe, Officials Say. Eric M. Weiss, The Hartford Courant, April 8, 1999.

Hartford Police Inquiry Expands. Josh Kovner, The Hartford Courant, April 9, 1999.

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