BERLIN - Newly promoted Police Chief John Klett will be making as much as the current chief, Police Commission members unanimously decided during a special meeting Thursday morning.
Klett is making $115, 052 a year as deputy chief. His salary will jump to $123,419, which Chief Paul Fitzgerald is making, when he is sworn in as chief on Oct. 18. Fitzgerald is retiring at the end of October.
Klett’s promotion comes after a rocky month within the police department, with an attorney from the same Hartford firm that represents the town confirming that the deputy chief used off-color language, including a gay slur, with staff at least nine times in the past year.
Klett was unanimously promoted to the position of police chief by the Police Commission after a discussion about the report on the comments Saturday morning. The discussion focused mostly on the motives of the lieutenant who brought the accusations forward, and not on Klett’s behavior with staff.
“Either he’s a terrible lieutenant or he wants to muddy the waters, I think it’s both,” commission Chairman Robert Peters said Saturday.
Klett acknowledged to the attorney conducting the investigation that he had used the language in many cases. But in the most serious cases, including the use of a gay slur, he said had no recollection of using the word or making the comment.
Staff confirmed Klett had used the language when speaking with them but also said they didn’t feel as though the comments were worthy of a complaint.
The police department sought an investigation into allegations of inappropriate remarks after Lt. James Gosselin, another candidate for police chief, brought forth a complaint detailing several incidents. Gosselin withdrew from the running when he filed the complaint.
Klett was “counseled” by Fitzgerald about the comments but otherwise not disciplined. Attorney Jarad Lucan, who conducted the investigation, concluded that Klett’s behavior didn’t rise to the level of sexual harassment or a hostile work environment. But Lucan said Klett’s comments are “undeniably inappropriate for the workplace, particularly when the person making the comments is in a leadership position.”
Lucan added that the language used “demonstrates a serious lack of judgment and is inconsistent with the role and expectation of the deputy chief.”
By Thursday morning it was business as usual, with the Police Commission agreeing to pay Klett the same salary as Fitzgerald. Lt. Christopher Ciuci, the third candidate vying for the position of chief, was promoted to deputy chief during Saturday’s meeting and will be making $115,052, which Klett makes now.
It was obvious both men were planning for their future leadership roles including new goals for 2018. “Make absolutely sure if you guys disagree you do so behind closed doors and hash it out,” Peters said. “Some of the things that got out were unbelievable but we will move on.”
“I can absolutely assure you,” Klett said. “We will work together.”
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.