NEW LONDON – Police Chief Brian Wright returned to his job today after an investigation cleared him of a sexual harassment and “retaliation” complaint filed the day he was suspended on Oct. 6, Mayor Michael Passero said in a brief press release.
According to the release, the complaint against Wright, the city’s first Black police chief who was suspended after only three months on the job, stemmed from when he was still a captain, and was involved in performing internal investigations that led to discipline against officers.
“The independent investigation into the complaint and allegations made against the Chief of Police while he was a Captain has been completed,” the release said.
“Upon being notified by the outside legal investigator as to his findings and conclusions, Mayor Michael E. Passero has immediately reinstated Chief Brian M. Wright to full duty this afternoon.”
The statement included only a limited explanation of an outside law firm’s conclusions regarding the allegations:
“Then Captain Wright did not sexually harass (redacted) as that term is defined under law; and “There is no evidence at all to support the contention that Captain Wright “retaliated” against (redacted) through his adverse findings in the (redacted) Investigation.”
The complaint against Wright came in the midst of a spate of lawsuits and internal accusations alleging gender and racial discrimination and sexual harassment by a small group of supervisors, leading to one lawsuit by a female detective.
Passero said earlier this week that the complaint against Wright that led to his suspension was filed by officer Jeffrey Kalolo, who late last month was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant after an investigation concluded he harassed and discriminated against that female detective.
The demotion sparked more controversy recently after some officers circulated hats and T-shirts in support of Kalolo that bear the slogan “464 Was Done Wrong,” referencing Kalolo’s badge number.
City police officer and State Rep. Anthony Nolan said Wright’s reinstatement is another signal that the department’s “old guard” at the center of many of the complaints is fading in influence.
“I’m just glad the clown show is over,” he said of the investigation of Wright and its fallout. “Now this department can get back to creating a stable police force that the community can look forward to working with. To those who may still want to create drama and mischief, I’m sure Chief Wright will handle them accordingly.”
Newly-elected police union president Josh Bergeson, whose election is seen as another step in the department’s desire to move beyond the recent conflicts, declined to comment on Wright being back on the job.
Wright had replaced Chief Peter Reichard, who was accused of failing to act on various internal investigations and who resigned after secretly-recorded audio surfaced of him making derogatory remarks about the city and complaining that he was passed over for earlier promotions in favor of minority candidates.
In Wright’s six-week absence, the department has been run by former Hartford deputy chief Neville Brooks, who is also Black and who told CT Examiner last week that he believes the department needs a “hard reset” to end the turmoil and increase accountability.
This story was updated at 5:30 p.m.