Hartford dispatcher accused of using racial slur to be suspended - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hartford dispatcher accused of using racial slur to be suspended

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

A Hartford dispatcher, accused of making a racial remark, was suspended following a hearing Thursday.

"That's going to be 198 Fairfield Avenue," the unidentified dispatcher said on the tape. "Same code again. 71. Arguing with (expletive) neighbors over a trash can."

Following the remarks, members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra wanted action taken.

Immediately after the tape surfaced, Segarra placed the dispatcher on leave, calling for an investigation.

After a hearing with him, his supervisor and union representative, the dispatcher's boss ruled his comments were racial and violated the city's "workplace violence policy" as well as conduct unbecoming of an emergency telecommunications dispatcher.

The city employee, who has never been in trouble before, must take a mandatory 5-day unpaid suspension starting Friday, and attend diversity training, upon his return.

NAACP State President Scott Esdaile said, he feels the suspension was not enough, and wants the dispatcher fired.

"Once again I think this is absolutely absurd," Esdaile said. "It sends a bad message, and the city of Hartford has it wrong. Zero tolerance means you should be out the door."

 Andrew Jaffee, who is the Director of Emergency Services & Telecommunications for Hartford and the dispatcher's boss, did not speak to Eyewitness News, at Hartford City Hall, Thursday.

However, in a statement Jaffee said "all employees of emergency services & telecommunications will be required to attend cultural diversity training."

"I'm an African American male, and I found the language extremely unprofessional," said Mark Bibbins, who is the vice-president of the union, in a statement, Thursday. "I didn't find anything funny about the timing with the recent police sergeant's comment, the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial and the lack of African Americans in leadership positions in Hartford."

Segarra released the following statement after the hearing.

 "It is my strong desire that we undertake a serious discussion, and training of all our employees, so as to prevent this conduct. As a person who has been subjected to hate speech based on my race, and sexual orientation on several occasions, I will not tolerate this behavior," Segarra said. "Some will argue that the discipline was too harsh or too lenient. Our focus should now be on achieving a work force that is respectful of all, and eradicating racism and discrimination, in all its ugly forms."

Weeks ago, Hartford police suspended an unidentified sergeant, when he used the term "gorillas" on a police radio, to describe people in the neighborhood.

The sergeant was given a 10-day suspension, and lost about $3,000 in pay. He was reassigned to duties inside the department.

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