Connecticut Cop Faces Discipline For Seeking Bets on First 2021 Murder

Posted on: December 9, 2020, 02:14h. 

Last updated on: December 9, 2020, 03:04h.

A detective in the Hartford, Connecticut, police department faces disciplinary action for soliciting bets on where the city’s first murder will take place in 2021, according to a published account.

Hartford Police Department
A Hartford police cruiser is seen in this photograph in Connecticut’s capital city. A police detective is accused of attempting to organize bets on where Hartford’s first 2021 murder will occur. (Image: Hartford Courant)

Detective Jeffrey Placzek could be demoted and placed on unpaid leave for four months under a recommendation this week from Police Chief Jason Thody, according to the Hartford Courant. The chief called the betting scheme “appalling.”

Participants in the “Major Crimes Dead Pool” were to pay $20 for a pin to mark their guess where Hartford’s first 2021 murder would occur. The person whose pin was closest would win the betting pool. A text seeking participants went to 19 people.

Members of the detective bureau and at least two court staff members were included in the text. Sixteen additional members of the 26-person detective division are under investigation in the incident. These 16 include a lieutenant and two sergeants.

The Police Department spokesman, Lt. Paul Cicero, who also serves as head of detectives in the Major Crimes Division, has been reassigned, the newspaper reported. This action is temporary, pending the result of the investigation.

Placzek, a 16-year veteran of the department, has been disciplined one other time. Earlier this year, he admitted to breaking an elevator button in the police station’s main lobby by pressing it with his foot, the chief said.

The veteran detective has been reassigned to an administrative post until he decides whether to challenge any disciplinary action. According to the newspaper, he is expected to challenge the matter.

Although casino gambling legally occurs in Connecticut, any gambling activity is illegal “unless specifically authorized by law,” according to the Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection website.

Red Flags

The betting scheme prompted an angry response from the chief.

When I read this text message, I was disgusted, angry, and disappointed,” Thody said in a statement. “The idea that one of our detectives would discuss betting in any way on a tragedy is appalling.”

Though the original text message was sent last Wednesday, Thody said he didn’t learn about it until Friday, when the department spokesman told him.

The chief said the two-day delay between when the text was sent and when it was called to his attention raises red flags about the actions, or inactions, of those who received it, according to the newspaper.

An investigation in underway into whether anyone responded regarding the bet. One person sent a “ty” response, meaning “thank you.” The original text was sent to personal cellphones, not work phones, the newspaper reported.

‘A Heinous Breach’

Some Hartford City Council members released a statement over the weekend, condemning the betting pool.

Council President Maly Rosado said the wager is “a heinous breach of any possible trust and faith our community can and should have” in the capital city’s police department.

City Councilwoman Shirley Surgeon, who is Black, said, “When a cop in charge of murders wants to bet on murders, I, for the first time, feel that this police department can’t be counted on to truly serve and protect the people who look like me.”

Hartford State’s Attorney Sharmese L. Walcott confirmed to the newspaper that two members of her office received the text message. She said her staff members did not participate in the betting pool.

The Hartford incident is not the first private wagering matter to arise in recent weeks. A manager at a food plant in Iowa was accused of organizing a betting pool on how many employees would come down with a COVID-19 infection.