Klett is unanimous choice for Berlin police chief

Published on Saturday, 23 September 2017 21:43
Written by LISA BACKUS


BERLIN - The Police Commission unanimously appointed Deputy Chief John Klett as the town’s next chief of police at a special meeting Saturday morning.

The vote came after a long discussion about allegations of inappropriate comments toward staff by Klett over the past 15 years. Klett admitted that some of the comments had been inappropriate and apologized, commission Chairman Robert Peters said.

Peters said an independent investigation conducted by an attorney with the firm of Shipman and Goodwin found that, overall, Klett had neither sexually harassed anyone nor created a hostile work environment.

“These incidents will not be repeated,” Peters said while reading from a summary of the report on the investigation, written by current Chief Paul Fitzgerald, who “counseled” Klett on the comments.

The entire department will receive sensitivity training based on the findings of the investigation, Peters said.

Peters also chided Lt. James Gosselin, who made the allegations, for waiting years before pointing out any perceived problems, and railed against two anonymous letters sent to the commission and The Herald alleging corruption within the department.

Gosselin’s complaint and the two letters came as the Police Commission was in the process of looking for a new chief after Fitzgerald had announced his retirement in late July. Klett, Gosselin and Lt. Christopher Ciuci were the only three candidates allowed to apply for the job.

The commission has the sole power to appoint a chief and does not have to seek the approval of the Town Council, town manager or any town department.

Gosselin, who has been disciplined for missteps twice in the past year, withdrew from the process in late August and issued a letter detailing several comments Klett had made over the years, some as recently as last month.

Among the accusations in the anonymous letters was that Ciuci was “stealing” electricity from the town by plugging his hybrid car into an outlet at the town garage. Although Ciuci had permission from the town manager to charge his car there, Peters told him during the meeting to get someone to calculate the cost of the electricity he has used and pay it back to the town.

Commission members said it was telling that many of the people to whom Klett had allegedly made off-color comments were upset that they had been named by Gosselin in the complaint.

The Herald has submitted a Freedom of Information request seeking the final report of the independent investigation. Officials said the report will be turned over on Monday.

“There was one thing that I was happy to hear in the report and that was that Lieutenant Ciuci and the deputy chief have a good working relationship and Lieutenant Ciuci was able to point something out and the deputy chief was able to say, ‘You’re exactly right. I’m sorry,’ ” said commission member Karen Maier-Drost, who is moving to Wyoming and was leaving immediately after the meeting.

Commission members said, both Klett, a longtime veteran of the department, and Ciuci were excellent choices for chief.

“I’m torn between the two of them,” said Joseph Annunziata. “I’m torn between having to pick someone.”

After unanimously voting to promote Klett, the commission then unanimously voted to promote Ciuci to deputy chief. They will be sworn in Oct. 18.

Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or backus@centralctcommunications.com.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General News on Saturday, 23 September 2017 21:43. Updated: Saturday, 23 September 2017 21:45.