Rutland Aldermen Investigate Pornography Allegations

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(Host)  Rutland’s Board of Aldermen will meet tonight with the city’s Police Commission in the wake of revelations that several officers have been investigated for allegedly viewing pornography while on duty.  

VPR’s Nina Keck reports.

(Keck) The ongoing investigation of a Rutland City police officer for alleged possession of child pornography is the latest of three pornography investigations concerning Rutland city police officers. 

The situation has called into question the leadership of Police Chief Anthony Bossi and the five-member commission that oversees him. 

Ed Larson is a retired Rutland City police officer who was just elected to the Board of Aldermen.   

(Larson) "I think that the police commission maybe needs to be reevaluated.   If the commission cannot keep control over the activities within the police department by their monitoring activities and their rules and regulations, then maybe it’s time to rid ourselves of the police commission and put the function back to the Aldermanic public safety committee or to the mayor."  

(Keck)  Members of the Board of Aldermen will do just that when they meet with the police commission. Board President David Allaire says he’s heard from a lot of angry residents that their trust in the police department has been broken and too little information has been forthcoming.

(Allaire) "When you have not only one incident, but several, and it seems to become a pattern, and there’s a lack of communication – not only to the administration but to the legislative body of the city and the police commission.  Then I think that brings about some troubling questions." 

(Keck) The police chief didn’t inform the police commission or other city officials about the latest investigation, even though the officers’ work area at the police station had been searched by state police.

Alderwoman Sharon Davis says she wants to talk over ways to improve communication between the police department, the police commission and city officials.  

She says one way to do that might be to have a member of the Board of Aldermen sit on the police commission as a nonvoting member.

Davis says she’s disappointed that Chief Anthony Bossi did not fire the officer who’s currently under investigation for allegedly possessing child pornography.  

But Bob Ebbinghausen, chairman of the Rutland Police Commission, stands behind the police chief.  

Ebbinghausen says with a criminal investigation under way, the chief felt he couldn’t discuss the matter or take disciplinary action until he had all the facts.

(Ebbinghausen) "The chief did nothing wrong. I showed some concern that I wasn’t notified, but there was nothing in the policy that said he had to notify me. Now there is and the city attorney will be involved in all of this as we go forward."

(Keck) Ebbinghausen says the pornography investigations are regrettable and have cast a shadow over the entire police department.   

But he says the commission and city are learning from the situation and refining protocols to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.


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