A CT trooper allegedly let someone sniff narcotics off his badge. Police won’t release the report. – CT Insider
State police are refusing to release records about a trooper who was issued a suspension for allegedly allowing someone to sniff narcotics off his badge.
The department said disclosing the documents would “constitute an invasion of privacy” and that it’s complying with a request by the trooper to keep the records secret.
Hearst Connecticut Media Group has appealed the denial to the state Freedom of Information Commission for a determination on whether the information should be made public.
According to a log containing hundreds of Internal Affairs cases provided by the state police under state Freedom of Information Law, an allegation was made that Trooper Roger Lapointe in 2019 “allowed illegal narcotics to be sniffed from his CSP badge.” Department investigators later recommended sustaining internal charges against Lapointe in connection with the case.
The log summary noted that “a photograph of an unknown person seen holding his tri-fold wallet displaying his badge was taken and circulated via text.”
The department issued Lapointe a two-day suspension from duty over the June 2019 incident, the log showed.
When asked for a summary report of the internal investigation into the incident, state police declined to provide the document. The report typically provides detail about a case and the investigator’s conclusions.
The Lapointe report was the only one state police refused to release when Hearst Connecticut Media requested several internal affairs reports.
Cynthia Isales, legal director for the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, said the denial was based on state law that protects an officer’s privacy by allowing him to object to release of personnel records.
“With respect to Lapointe, it is the agency’s belief that release of that record would constitute an invasion of privacy,” Isales wrote in an email. “The trooper was therefore afforded the ability to object pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-214. He did object. We will therefore not release that record.”
Lapointe did not respond to a request for comment sent to his department email.
In its complaint to the FOI commission, Hearst Connecticut Media said the agency’s refusal to provide the records constituted a violation of FOI law.
“The legal exemption the agency cited Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-214 was overturned/nullified by the Connecticut General Assembly’s passage of Public Act 20-1 in 2020,” the news outlet noted.
“Since then, the collective bargaining organization/union that represents state police troopers has unsuccessfully challenged this law change in court,” Hearst Connecticut Media said.
“The union’s challenges in court have thus far been denied, including an injunction it sought to bar the release of information pending the resolution in court. Therefore, the agency currently has no legal grounds to withhold these records and must produce them immediately,” the news outlet said.
A hearing over the complaint filed on March 1 has not yet been scheduled by the FOI Commission but Hearst Connecticut Media received a letter acknowledging its complaint. An ombudsman, per commission policy, was assigned to the case to explore a possible settlement.
An official at the FOI Commission said he could not comment on pending cases.
Bill Cummings is a veteran newspaper reporter who first joined the Connecticut Post in 1989 as a town reporter. He has served as a bureau chief, manned the Capitol Bureau, covered Bridgeport City Hall and was later named group Investigative Reporter. Bill also covers environmental issues for Hearst. He previously worked for the Watertown Daily Times in New York State and the Star Herald, a weekly in northern Maine.