TO: CORPORATION COUNSEL, CITY OF NEW BRITAIN
FROM: DIRECTOR, HUMAN RESOURCES, CITY OF NEW BRITAIN, DCB LAW GROUP, LLC
SUBJECT: NEW BRITAIN FIRE DEPARTMENT
DATE: AUGUST 9, 2017
Please find attached the Independent Review of the New Britain Fire Department which was commissioned by Mayor Erin E. Stewart in May 2017.
As you are aware, for the past 15 weeks, the review team conducted 49 interviews of NBFD members and other individuals to gauge the present organizational condition of the NBFD with specific focus on the perception of unfair or discriminatory treatment by the members.
As the team was not tasked with a formal fact finding or investigation of any particular claim, we do not render herein any official opinion as whether harassment, retaliation, or discrimination actually exists in any particular case, per se, and offer this report as guidance for city officials to deliberate on this question and as a basis to explore a number of mitigating actions independently with the Mayor and Human Resources Director, and/or others as may be warranted.
Our observations are multifaceted and surround a theme of overall administrative/leadership deficiency and dysfunction. Strong sentiments exist that there is a lack of consistent affirmative communication, unfair treatment and favoritism, and that the department is devoid of a sense of fairness and meritocracy with respect to discipline and many of the discretionary actions of the Chief (e.g., transfers, bid-and-post driver appointments, committee appointments, training opportunities, community service) which are often believed to be arbitrary and/or based on personal or other bias.
Certain minority members feel passionately, and in the Team's opinion, sincerely, that they have not been treated fairly compared with white members of the department, often from the date of hire and based on the disparity described between certain tolerated serious violations of departmental policies by white/Caucasian firefighters and the initiation of discipline against less serious infractions by minority members.
As such, the Team and others believes it is not unreasonable that a minority firefighter could perceive the existence of racial bias. Additionally, the Team believes that the triggering incident (Photograph) which prompted this Review was wholly avoidable, is without reasonable excuse, and suggests strongly, at best, a serious level of racial insensitivity by the Chief.
( Report )