Complainant finds no fault in pace of internal probe, cites focus on phone call hoax
By Guy Page
State police are conducting an internal investigation into alleged racist and sexist remarks made by off-duty troopers while playing an online game. The incident was reported by Sen. Nader Hashim (D-Windham), a former state trooper. He learned of it from a constituent.
VTDigger’s Sarah Mearhoff broke the story yesterday. Two state troopers allegedly participating in the online game and using offensive language were identified by name. The headline (not necessarily written by Mearhoff) focused on Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jen Morrison’s apparent slow response: “After receiving report of off-duty racism and misogyny by Vermont troopers, public safety chief initially declined to take action.”
However, Hashim last night said he didn’t take exception to the pace of the investigation.
“I didn’t really form an opinion regarding the speed of the investigation,” he replied in response to a VDC email. “They seemed to move along, and they had a huge situation with the hoax phone calls. I relayed the information from a constituent to the VSP and they opened an investigation.”
Wednesday morning, 21 schools received hoax calls claiming a live shooter was in the building. State police, including Morrison and other top VSP leaders, responded quickly to the perceived threat.
Morrison issued a statement last night declaring that the internal investigation is being taken seriously and without delay. She also said media reports were inaccurate.
“I need to set the record straight regarding recent reporting about the Vermont State Police that contains significant inaccuracies and omissions, and to ensure the public fully understands the complete time line of recent events,” Morrison said.
“At 10:06 a.m. Monday, Feb. 6, Vermont State Sen. Nader Hashim received an email from a third party who provided information from an anonymous source that a group of unnamed Vermont State Police troopers had used racist, misogynistic and otherwise offensive language while playing an online game when they were off duty.”
The full statement provided last night by Morrison appears below:
I need to set the record straight regarding recent reporting about the Vermont State Police that contains significant inaccuracies and omissions, and to ensure the public fully understands the complete time line of recent events.
At 10:06 a.m. Monday, Feb. 6, Vermont State Sen. Nader Hashim received an email from a third party who provided information from an anonymous source that a group of unnamed Vermont State Police troopers had used racist, misogynistic and otherwise offensive language while playing an online game when they were off duty.
At 10:29 a.m., Sen. Hashim forwarded the email to Sgt. Ryan Wood at the Westminster Barracks.
At 10:43 a.m., Sgt. Wood forwarded the email to the barracks commander, Lt. Anthony French.
At 11:07 a.m., Lt. French forwarded the email to Lt. Robert McKenna, the director of the Office of Internal Affairs. Lt. McKenna reviewed the information and presented it to me. Because the original author of the email was a third party who was relaying an anonymous complaint about the possible activity of troopers whose identities were not disclosed, the determination was made that there was insufficient information to open a formal Internal Affairs investigation. The decision that there was currently insufficient evidence to proceed in no way precluded the submission of additional information to the Office of Internal Affairs. I directed Lt. McKenna to reply and also try to obtain additional information.
At 1:03 p.m., Lt. McKenna emailed Sen. Hashim and the third party to advise them of my determination, but also to ensure they were aware that more detail could be provided at any time.
“If there is additional information that can be shared, I would strongly encourage it to be brought to our attention,” Lt. McKenna wrote. “If additional information becomes available, it will be brought to the commissioner’s attention so she can revisit this matter.”
During the next 24 hours, Lt. McKenna received additional information related to this situation via email and phone calls. A meeting was scheduled for Wednesday to present this information to me. Due to the numerous hoax threat calls affecting Vermont schools Wednesday morning, my meeting with Lt. McKenna did not occur until 2:15 p.m. — prior to our office receiving any media inquiries regarding this situation. I reviewed the additional information that the Office of Internal Affairs had received, and I determined there was now sufficient evidence to open a formal internal investigation pursuant to Vermont statute 20 VSA 1923.
I want to be clear: The Vermont State Police and I take all complaints regarding misconduct of state troopers, on duty or off, with the utmost seriousness. At no time did I or anyone else within the state police suggest that an investigation would not be opened; we advised only that additional information was necessary. Once that information was received, we immediately launched a formal internal investigation.
Due to the strict confidentiality requirements surrounding internal investigations, we are unable to comment any further on the specific allegations, and we must afford due process to the troopers involved and allow the investigation to proceed. Once the internal investigation is complete, the state police and I will consult the State Police Advisory Commission on next steps and provide whatever information we can, in accordance with the law, to the public.
Categories: Police Reports
They’re going to need to fire all men in order to stop being offended by everything.
And they can start spying on me now that I had an opinion.
What business is it of anyone’s what someone does on their off time? How did they even know? Spying much.
It’s only just begun folks. Next we will be required to turn-in our parents.
It has only just begun folks. Next they will want us to turn-in our parents.
Well Digger has walked it back and scrubbed one cop’s name from their story already with only a tiny mention of it at the bottom of the article. Guess they were too excited by their COPS ARE BAD narrative to do their actual fact checking.
New VSP theme song: Everybody’s going to the party Have a real good time
If Sen. Nader Hashim had used those lyrics in a game, he would be considered a WOKE hero
Excellent timing. The diversion from legislative antics couldn’t have been planned any better.
I find it hard to believe that anyone would think that the obnoxious behavior reported by VTDigger is acceptable whether the officers were on duty or off duty. If an investigation confirms the report, these officers need to be dismissed.
George Orwell was right. You are not an individual, you are a slave. When you accept a job, your employer assumes the right to monitor, question and even command every word spoken by you.
We are setting up thought crime committees that will encourage our colleagues and even our children to report thought crime. Every joke will be examined as potentially criminal even those that are told between friends at a party.
We don’t call them thought crime committees, of course. We call them “DEI”committees.
Interestingly enough, many Christians (if they believe and preach from the Bible) are labeled racist. More interestingly is what some call sexist, to others is not sexist at all. The same is true for being a racist, or not, certainly depends on your view point. My Point —> A vast majority are labeled as being racist, which really isn’t racism at all. You can be labeled a racist just by expressing true facts from history. Personally I thought removing Aunt Jamimah face from the pancake mix was wrong, but that makes me a racist and a sexist in some peoples eyes. Ask me if I care ! Who is the authority on what is racist and what is not? Who is the authority on what is sexist and what is not ? Bottom line, should people be required to relinquished there 1st Amendment rights in there personal life, outside of their place of employment ?