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Female detective alleges "institutional sexism" within New London Police Department

New London — City police detective Melissa "Missy" Schafranski-Broadbent has filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities stating she has been treated unequally based on her gender, sexually harassed and subjected to a hostile work environment since she joined the police department in 2007.

The complaint names the City of New London, Lt. Jeffrey Kalolo and Sgt. Charles Flynn as respondents and alleges a pattern of institutional sexism by them and other male supervisors, including Chief Peter Reichard, Capt. Todd Bergeson and Lt. Robert Pickett. The department of about 70 officers has five females in its ranks.  

Schafranski-Broadbent is represented by attorney Jacques "Jim" Parenteau, the same lawyer representing Sgt. Cornelius "Neil" Rodgers, who is Black, in his claim of institutional racism within the police force. Rodgers has also filed a new complaint against the city alleging unfair treatment in the promotion process, which Parenteau said would be delivered to the mayor on Wednesday.

"Those in power in the New London Police Department, which includes the command structure, but also the top members in the union, are a good old boys club, and they're treating women and people of color as 'the other,' meaning they're not invited to join the club," Parenteau said Wednesday. 

He said the city has until Dec. 10 to answer the Schafranski-Broadbent complaint, which was filed on Oct. 15.

Capt. Brian Wright said Wednesday that the police administration would not be commenting on the complaint, since there is an active internal investigation on the matter.

Union President Todd Lynch said he has not seen the CHRO complaint, but is aware of the pending internal investigation. In the complaint, Schafranski alleges she has tried to obtain assistance from the union, but that Kalolo, whom she cites in numerous incidents of mistreatment, is a member of the union's executive board and is close with the other board members.

"The union's job is to protect anyone that has been accused of violating the rules and regulations," Lynch said. "We want to be clear that we represent everyone. I will ensure that any member has proper representation, and the people that have been accused of wrongdoing will have every right to get their time to respond."

In a 12-page affidavit, Schafranski-Broadbent, 39, who was promoted to detective earlier this year, describes mistreatment dating back to 2017 and asserts that after she initially filed an in-house complaint in 2019, she was subject to retaliatory intimidation and harassment.

She complains that on numerous occasions, Flynn, a sergeant and vice president of the police union, stated in the presence of other officers, "Missy needs to decide if she wants to be a mommy or a cop," while male officers have not been demeaned or criticized for having children or childcare responsibilities.

She said the department recognizes male officers on Father's Day, and the chief congratulates them on the birth of their children during roll call, but there has been no recognition of female officers on Mother's Day or when they give birth.

She said she has routinely been assigned to investigate cases involving children and sex crimes based on sex and gender stereotyping while her male counterparts were given cases she had stated interest in.

She said during a snow storm, she was assigned to a cruiser that needed to be de-iced and shoveled out, while her male counterparts received cars that had already been cleaned.

Many of the claims involve Lt. Kalolo, including:

  • In September 2017,  Schafranski-Broadbent mistakenly left her duty weapon at home. She said Kalolo told her to go home and get the gun, but issued her a written warning when she returned to work 15 minutes late for her shift. On numerous occasions, men who have forgotten their firearm were issued a spare that is kept in the department's armory for that purpose.
  • In November 2017, Kalolo verbally reprimanded her and falsely accused her of taking lunch at the same time as another officer and eating lunch while she was clocked in writing reports. She said men routinely take lunch breaks at the same time as other officers without being disciplined.
  • Kalolo told her in November 2017 she was getting a bad reputation and that a supervisor had heard two patrolmen saying, "Don't be a Schafranski." She said Kalolo did nothing to address the demeaning comments about her and that he didn't offer her any assistance, such as a referral to an Employee Assistance Program, when she told him she was taking medication for postpartum depression.
  • Kalolo informed her in March of 2018 that she would be ordered to work the St. Patrick's Day Parade even though she had scheduled the day off and had airline tickets to attend an out-of-state wedding. When he told her she couldn't swap shifts with another officer, she said she had to involve Chief Reichard, who confirmed she could swap shifts.
  • During a meeting with Kalolo about her work performance in January 2019, she said he criticized her for the number of infractions issued, arrests made and field inquiry reports completed. She was seeking a detective's position, and reminded him she had spent a lot of time on complex investigations, but that he held her to a higher standard than her male co-workers.
  • In October 2019, Kalolo pulled her into a meeting and told her he had received numerous complaints that she and officer Chris White were "more than friends." When she became upset that her supervisors and others were accusing her of an extramarital affair with her close friend, Kalolo told her to stay away from White and that he was only telling her what others had said.
  • After she filed a complaint against Kalolo with Capt. Larry Keating in October 2019, Schafranski-Broadbent said Capt. Todd Bergeson, a close friend of Kalolo, immediately pulled her into his office and asked what the complaint was about. She said Kalolo and other supervisors and officers participated in a campaign of retaliatory harassment. Lynch, a close friend of Kalolo, bumped into Bergeson in her presence, looked at her, and joked about a hostile work environment.
  • Though she was at the top of the list for promotion to detective when a position opened in January 2020, Kalolo and others attempted to intimidate her into withdrawing and delayed the promotion in an attempt to run out the two-year limit on the promotional list.
  • On Jan. 9, 2020, Kalolo pulled her into his office and asked her to "void" an infraction she had issued earlier that day at the request of Officer Deana Nott, since the person who received the ticket was a friend of Nott's daughter. Kalolo said she didn't feel comfortable in the office with Kalolo and told him she didn't have a preference about voiding the ticket because she wanted to get away as quickly as possible. She later learned Kalolo had been told not to have one-on-one closed door meetings with her.  
  • In January 2020, Kalolo filed a complaint alleging information about Schafranski's complaint had been improperly disclosed. Since then, Kalolo has portrayed himself as the victim and he, and others have treated her as if she did something wrong.
  • In other instances, Schafranski said Kalolo stared at her and blocked her car in with his cruiser in an attempt to intimidate her.

k.florin@theday.com

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