Barre police chief
The Vermont attorney general’s office has selected investigators in Barre to look for possible criminal conduct inside the Rutland City Police Department.
Two months after members of the police union in Rutland asked the attorney general’s office to review complaints laid forth in a civil lawsuit brought by a former city police officer, Assistant Attorney General Cindy Maguire said Wednesday that police in Barre are conducting the investigation.
Originally, state prosecutors wanted Vermont State Police to conduct the inquiry, which stems from a lawsuit filed in January by former city police officer Andrew Todd.
The officer left the department more than a year ago following what he describes in his legal complaint as escalating harassment from his superiors. He accuses them of trying to cover up the misdeeds and potentially criminal conduct of a pair of other officers who are no longer with the department.
Normally, state police handle criminal investigations inside local police departments. But due to conflicts of interest posed by Todd, who is now a state police trooper in Rutland County, and Baker, who is a former state police colonel, Maguire said the agency declined to review the case.
Maguire said the attorney general’s office turned to other police agencies in the state — and reached an agreement with police in Barre, who began their investigation this week.
“I’m comfortable with (Barre Police Chief Timothy Bombardier) and his folks handling the case,” Maguire said.
Bombardier has his own connection with Baker, who is named as one of nine defendants in Todd’s case. Bombardier was captain of the state police criminal investigation unit at the time that Baker commanded the agency.
But the Barre police chief said Wednesday that his time under Baker’s command ended in 2007 and he would only have an administrative role in the Rutland investigation, which is being conducted by other officers.
“There’s no problem on my end,” he said.
Rutland police union president Lynette Gallipo said she had no concerns about Bombardier’s prior working relationship with Baker.
“I know Chief Bombardier. He’s a very upstanding person,” Gallipo said. “I’m sure he knows the colonel, but I think finding someone who doesn’t know him would be difficult.”
Bombardier said the scope of the investigation is still being determined, but he said it could involve multiple officers who would travel to Rutland as needed to conduct interviews.
Those investigators will be looking for any evidence of criminal activity stemming from Todd’s complaint.
In the lawsuit, Todd described instances of another officer, Sgt. John Johnson, “lying on time reports, stealing, taking free items, failing to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of supervisor, sleeping on the job, on-duty sex with a female citizen, and repeatedly making derogatory and racist comments and profiling African-American citizens.”
Todd, who is black, said his complaints about Johnson were ignored by his immediate supervisor, Lt. Kevin Geno, and later by Capt. Scott Tucker, Baker and Larry Jensen, chairman of the Rutland Police Commission.
The lawsuit does not allege specific criminal conduct by Geno, Tucker, Baker or Jensen.
Bombardier said he had no timeline for the investigation’s completion.
When Barre police finish their investigation, the results will be turned over to the Caledonia state’s attorney’s office for review.
Normally, investigations of police misconduct are reviewed by the attorney general’s office.
But Maguire said her office had its own conflicts of interest in the case.
“We’re working closely with the police in Rutland on cases involving Alex Spanos and Christopher Sullivan,” she said. “Given those connections and allegations concerning Baker and (former Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Tremblay), we felt it was better to turn it over to an independent investigator.”
Rutland officials reached Wednesday — including Baker, Jensen and Board of Aldermen Chairman David Allaire — declined to comment on the investigation. Mayor Christopher Louras could not be reached for comment.
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