Rutland City’s top ranking police officers are the focus of a lawsuit alleging a longstanding culture of corruption, misconduct and cover-ups in the department.
Former Rutland City Police officer Andrew Todd alleges that in the nearly nine years he worked for the Rutland City Police Department he witnessed a supervising officer sleeping on the job, having sex with a female citizen while on duty, lying about his time reports and failing to fulfill his duties as a supervisor.
Todd, who is African American, also alleges that this officer, Sergeant John Johnson, repeatedly made derogatory and racist comments and used racial profiling on the job. VPR attempted to reach Sergeant Johnson but no one answered his home phone.
Todd wrote up a formal complaint against Johnson in 2010, but Todd alleges that because of friendships among the supervising officers, that complaint was never investigated or acted upon. Todd alleges that it only led to retaliation against him.
According to the 16-page lawsuit, Todd brought his concerns up the chain of command to Lieutenant Kevin Geno, Captain Scott Tucker, Chief James Baker, the mayor and even Lawrence Jensen, the Chairman of the Rutland Police Commission. Yet Todd alleges that no one conducted a proper investigation.
Captain Scott Tucker would not comment on the allegations.
Andew Todd alleges that the hostile, retaliatory atmosphere pushed him to seek employment elsewhere and he now works for the state police.
John Paul Faignant, Todd’s attorney says, "Police officers must do the right thing whether they’re a patrolman, or a lieutenant or a captain or a chief or chairman of the police commission. And a culture that suggests to police officers that the right thing is not being done is not the type of culture we want for a police department."
Rutland City Police Chief James Baker wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit nor would Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras.
But Louras, who is not a defendant in the suit, did say that Todd came to speak with him shortly before the officer resigned. "I spoke to Corporal Todd in December of ’11," the mayor said. "And I can’t say what he spoke to me about, but yes, I spoke to him and the issues he raised to me I brought to the appropriate responsible authorities and appropriate action was taken."
Sergeant John Johnson and another officer, Earl "Frank" Post, who are cited for misconduct in Todd’s complaint, were the subject of an internal investigation last year conducted by former Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Tremblay. The reasons for the investigation were never made public, but Johnson retired last April with full benefits and Post resigned.
Todd’s lawsuit alleges that there was a cover up between Tremblay and Chief Baker to hide damning information about the two officers.
Attorney John Paul Faignant says the fact that the two officers are gone means little. "They were symptoms of the problem," says Faignant, "but the culture of the problem still exists – management by intimidation."
In the last four years, five Rutland City Police officers have been investigated for misconduct. Three of them are no longer with the department. Police have not publicly released details of the two most recent investigations.