By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — A police officer who said he was “trigger happy” to a group of residents in the summer was fired on Wednesday.
Hartford Police Chief David Rosado terminated Stephen Barone’s employment after an internal investigation and a formal hearing about the two high-profile incidents in the summer.
“Our success as a police department depends on our relationship with the community we serve,” Rosada said in a statement. “Every day the men and women of the Hartford Police Department are out doing good police work with professionalism and respect, and this officer’s conduct does not reflect the values of our agency.”
Barone, a 10-year veteran, was caught on camera saying: “If anybody wants to fight or run, I’m a little trigger happy guys, I’m not going to lie, and I get paid a ton of money in overtime if I have to shoot somebody, don’t do anything stupid,” Barone said in a video that was posted on Facebook and attracted a lot of viewers.
In another incident in July, Barone failed to call off a July 9 police chase on I-91. The driver went southbound in a northbound lane at almost 60 miles an hour.
Internal Affairs investigators found that Barone violated police policies and discredited the force when he threatened a group of black and Hispanic residents. Barone was first demoted from sergeant to officer in September. And his salary went from $89,200 to $76,800. Barone is white.
“After reviewing the findings related to these two incidents, it’s clear to me that there’s no scenario in which Mr. Barone can return to his duties as a productive member of the Hartford Department. As a department, we are committed to building and rebuilding a strong relationship with residents across our city based on mutual respect, accountability, transparency, and a shared desire to live in a strong Hartford.”
Residents were outraged after hearing about the incident. In August, residents, community organizers and city officials packed city hall and demanded that Barone be fired.
“Today we stand with Hartford Police Chief David Rosado and the City of Hartford in their decision. Officer Barone conduct and behavior as an officer was unsatisfactory. He lack professionalism, cultural competence and good decision making. This is not who we need on the streets of Hartford to protect and serve our community,” said Rev. Ronald Holmes, president of the Greater Hartford Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. “His statement, being ‘trigger happy’ and other actions are simply disgraceful.”
About 85 percent of the city is comprised of people of color. Only 34 percent of the city’s 379 officers is nonwhite. And close to seven percent live in the city.
Hartford Councilman T. J. Clarke at a press conference in response to the firing called for “immediate change and training” of police officers. He said it’s a “worthy and realistic goal” to increase and reflect the demographics of the city.