Hartford detective demoted, suspended for suggesting bet on first homicide of 2021

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A Hartford, Connecticut, police detective is facing disciplinary actions after he sent a text message proposing a wager about where the first homicide of 2021 would occur.

Police Chief Jason Thody said the message was sent to a group of other officers and court officials, but no actual betting took place.

“This represents an appalling lack of judgment, an extreme insensitivity toward our community, and a clear violation of Department policy for which there will be serious disciplinary consequences,” he said in a Facebook statement. “In a year when we have solved more homicides than any year in memory, it also does a disservice to the incredibly hard work that so many of our officers are doing on a daily basis to prevent and solve serious crimes.”

The detective, Jeffrey Placzek, works in the Major Crimes division of the Hartford Police Department, according to a police statement on Monday. He has been demoted and also suspended for 120 days without pay.

Placzek will be allowed to return to the department after he completes a fitness for duty evaluation and a restorative justice program, Thody said.

“I have reviewed the text message, and there is no ambiguity about the facts,” Thody said in an earlier Facebook statement, adding that the detective will be charged with violating the code of conduct. “At a time when we are trying to build trust, I am as disappointed in this behavior as I am sure you all of you are.”

Placzek will have the opportunity to appeal the discipline.

Lt. Paul Cicero, who supervises the Major Crimes Division, was also removed and suspended from his role pending the outcome of the police department’s investigation into the messages, according to the police statement. Thody said that Cicero was among the group of people who received the text.

Cicero and other supervisors who received the text could face additional discipline based on the outcome of the investigation, the police chief said.

The Hartford Police Union did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday. Calls to numbers listed for Placzek and Cicero were not immediately returned.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin called the text message “disgusting” and said it “demonstrates a disregard for life and for our community that is wholly unbecoming of a Hartford police officer.”

“This conduct is all the more frustrating and disappointing because of the incredibly hard work the men and women in Major Crimes have done this year, solving more homicides than in any other year in memory, working closely with the families of victims, and working around the clock to prevent violence and keep our community safe,” Bronin said in a statement.