New London (Credit: newlondonct.org)

Harassment Case Leads to Demotion in New London Police Department

NEW LONDON – A police lieutenant accused of harassing and discriminating against a female detective who sued him has been demoted to sergeant for a year and warned that any further discipline will cost him his rank permanently. 

Lt. Jeffrey Kalolo was demoted late last week after an investigation determined that “discipline is warranted for your misconduct and to effectuate future change in your professional conduct and performance going forward,” city Chief Administrative Officer and former state police Trooper Steven Fields wrote in an Oct. 28 disciplinary letter to Kalolo obtained by CT Examiner under a Freedom of Information Act request. 

Fields cited “compelling evidence” uncovered in the internal-affairs investigation that Kalolo violated city and department policy regarding “harassment, disparate treatment, intimidating and offensive work environment, hostile work environment, and interfering with work performance.”

“I find it particularly problematic that your conduct represents an overall inability to be an effective leader and shift commander,” Fields wrote. 

Attempts to reach Kalolo and the police union that represents him for comment Thursday were not successful. Fields and Mayor Michael Passero declined to elaborate on the matter.  

Detective Melissa Schafranski-Broadbent, one of the few female officers in the 70-officer department, alleged since she became an officer in 2007, she has been subjected to intimidation, sexualized comments, excessive discipline for minor violations of department policy and degrading and demeaning comments from Kalolo and other supervisors. 

Fields said in his letter to Kalolo that he was specifically troubled by Kalolo’s testimony during an internal hearing on the matter. 

“Your admission that you failed to document any of your alleged concerns about Officer Schafranski-Broadbent’s performance and your statement that you wouldn’t have done anything differently reflected a troubling lack of insight into how you failed to adhere to department standards, how your supervisory style affected Ms. Schafranski-Broadbent, or how it could affect others in the future,” Fields wrote.

In order to be reinstated to Lieutenant, Kalolo will have to complete 160 hours of training regarding workplace harassment, as well as management, supervisory, leadership and employee development. 

“Your performance at the rank of Sergeant must be satisfactory, or better, and there can be no further discipline,” Fields wrote. 

The case is said to have played a role in the Oct. 6 suspension of Chief Brian Wright, who was appointed by Passero two months earlier as the city’s first Black police chief, and then suspended by the mayor for undisclosed reasons the same day an internal complaint was filed against him.

While the Wright investigation continues, Passero has said he maintains full confidence in his ability to lead the department and expects him to return to work soon. 

In his previous rank as captain under former Chief Peter Reichard, Wright had eventually taken over the delayed investigation into the 2019 complaint by Schafranski-Broadbent that led to Kalolo’s demotion. 

City police officer and State Rep. Anthony Nolan, who was asked by Schafranski-Broadbent in his capacity as a legislator to intervene in the matter and Reichard’s inaction on it, has linked Wright’s suspension to coworkers “plotting character assassination on Chief Wright because some officers and supervisors skeletons have surfaced of them doing wrong.” 

Days after Wright was suspended, Nolan, who is Black, wrote on his personal Facebook page that there are a handful of white officers at the department who “can’t handle” having a Black chief or supervisors.

Thursday, Nolan said he is “baffled” that Kalolo is still being allowed to supervise officers as sergeant. 

“He still has that position of power and control and he could do the same thing again,” said Nolan, who claims threatening notes were left on his personal car in the department parking lot when he intervened on Schafranski-Broadbent’s complaint in September. 

Nolan also said that Wright’s interim replacement, former state police trooper and Hartford police Officer Neville Brooks, has made significant efforts to improve communication and morale at the department, including an open-door policy and visiting officers on all three daily shifts. 

“He’s continuing some very encouraging things that Chief Wright started and is trying to keep the morale up,” Nolan said, “and that is really appreciated.”

Latest from Steve Jensen