Editor note: At the bottom of the article, you’ll find an exclusive interview with the officer at the center of the controversy… and you’ll hear about how moments after being terminated, he saved two lives.
SIMSBURY, CT- The police chief in Simsbury, Connecticut seems to have lost the confidence of the police department.
They took a “no confidence” vote, with 80% of the officers voting against him.
Yet the same police commission that helped the chief terminate a police sergeant over perceived gossip then took an unprecedented “vote of confidence” to support him … and completely ignore the voice of every single one of those officers.
The move was made during a police commission meeting that was held this past Monday in what was one of the most glaringly political moves the town has ever seen.
That’s where they decided to slap the officers in the face by passing their own overwhelming consensus that THEY have plenty of confidence in Police Chief Nicholas Boulter.
So, what would be the outcome from a lack of confidence from the officers – termination, demotion, resignation?
The answer would be none of the above.
The commission said that despite 80 percent of its voting membership voting that way a consensus of “no confidence”, it still supports Chief Nicholas Boulter.
Despite no action taking place after the vote, it is extremely hard to bounce back from that sort of labeling by the officers. Not to mention, nearly every police folly will make its way back to Boulter.
Confidence votes are taken very seriously.
As we saw just last month that the Mesa, Arizona police chief, Ramon Batista, had resigned following a very similar “no confidence” vote where 95 percent of the commission agreed on that notion.
Perhaps Boulter should consider saving a little face here and ponder resignation as well, especially after the manner in which he handled the termination of Sergeant Jason Trombly by use of the commission who has no confidence in his own endeavors.
Union leadership did confirm with local news sources that last week that the majority of its voting membership voted “no confidence” in Boulter.
Several things are taken into consideration during these hearings, and citations of department morale being on the lower end was a hot topic. According to officers, that morale plummeted when Sergeant Jason Trombly was fired.
Kyle Reyes, our national spokesman, was lucky enough to meet and speak with Trombly back in November, who helped shed some light on the multi-month investigation against him and the conflicts of interest that were flagrantly disregarded in his termination.
During the conversation that was featured on Behind the Uniforms, Trombly described how an investigation was launched against him and was being led by literally the individual who was alleged to be the victim of Trombly’s conduct: Chief Nicholas Boulter.
What originally started off as a written reprimand against the then police sergeant for allegedly spending too much time in the precinct before hitting patrol, spiraled into what outsiders could perceive as a vendetta against him.
When Boulter heard a rumor that Trombly intended to challenge the write up and “recorded” conversations with superiors, he then launched into full blown investigation against Trombly.
Boulter wasted no time and accused Trombly via email of the secret “recordings” of conversations, to which Trombly denied that he recorded anyone and admitted that he took notes when speaking with superiors.
The police chief demanded that Trombly hand over any “notes” he had, but Trombly’s attorney actually told him not to hand anything over. If you think the chief respected the advice from the sergeant’s attorney, you’d be wrong: the chief threatened a write up for insubordination.
Here’s where it gets even more interesting.
The chief launched an internal affairs investigation about something that was not against any federal, state, local, town or department policy.
Connecticut is a one-party record state, and the Simbury police department has no policy that prohibits it.
Sergeant Trombly said he told the chief he could be secretly recording Trombly, which the chief agreed with.
When Trombly asked him if he was, the Chief apparently refused to respond.
It begs the obvious question – how could you do an IA on something that is legal?
The chief claimed it wasn’t about the recordings – it was that he “lied during the IA”.
After months of this going on, the chief drafted an enormous report claiming that the sergeant was no more than a gossip and lacked integrity.
When the commission had that report in front of them last month, they spent the better part of three minutes before deciding to fire Trombly. Still, Trombly and his attorney are working to combat the hasty decision made by the commission and fueled by the chief’s apparent bias.
If the commission can decide to fire a heroic police sergeant who dedicated over 11 years to the force in 3 minutes over gossip allegations; then why would they stand behind a chief that they admittedly have no confidence in? While we’re rooting for Trombly’s reinstatement, perhaps the commission should take a closer look into the chief himself.
Imagine losing the career that you felt you were ‘born to do’ and then immediately jumping in to save someone’s life.
That’s actually what happened the day Sergeant Trombly was fired.
He was at a meeting where he learned that he was being terminated from his position after the ongoing issue with the department chief. As he was leaving that meeting, an accident occurred – and he didn’t hesitate for a moment.
In October, news broke that Chief Nicholas Boulter of the Simsbury Police Department had conducted a five-month internal investigation on Sergeant Jason Trombly.
The Hartford Courant reported that:
“Boulter wrote in his internal investigation report that he started investigating Trombly after being told that Trombly had ‘secretly recorded conversations’ with superior officers. Trombly denied taking any audio recordings of conversations and Boulter did not ultimately prove that allegation, his investigation report says.”
Even though there was no concrete evidence turned up by the chief, who conducted the investigation into Trombly himself, he still made a recommendation to the police commission that Trombly should be let go during a six-hour meeting where he presented “evidence”.
In the report presented by Boulter, he wrote that:
“Trombly should be fired on the grounds that he spread ‘malicious gossip’ and displayed a ‘lack of respect and truthfulness’ during Boulter’s internal investigation.”
Trombly, never admitted to recording any conversations, and no tapes were ever found, however Trombly did admit to taking written notes after meetings with superior officers However, Boulter said he would not initially provide those notes during the course of his investigation.
However, on the November 6 meeting of the Simsbury Police Commission that only lasted a few minutes:
“In a 3-1 vote, with one-member abstaining, the commission voted to terminate Trombly.”
Video shows Trombly thanking his attorney and hugging supporters that were in the room with him.
After leaving the Police Commission meeting where he was fired, Trombly was exiting the police department where the meeting was held, when two pedestrians that had been crossing the street in front of the building were struck by a vehicle.
Trombly didn’t hesitate, perhaps instinct kicking in, running to assist the victim and as one of the first on scene to assist in the accident. Video was captured of Trombly in a suit tie and dress shoes, running to assist the struck pedestrians. He can be seen assisting other first responders, at one point grabbing a stretcher and bringing it over to the victims.
While the incident took place in front of the police department, more first responders were quickly on scene, many who had been at the hearing in support of Trombly, but Trombly stayed with the victims and assisted the other responders, until the victims were air lifted from the scene by lifestar.
Reporters, who had originally been at the police commission meeting to learn of Trombly’s fate, asked him after the accident had occurred why he did what he did after just losing his job with the department and knowing he would only be acting as a civilian in that situation.
Trombly responded, “We heard the crash and we all went running out there. Regardless if I’m employed by the Simsbury Police Department or not, it’s still in my blood and I’m always going to help somebody.”
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“This community is always going to be a part of me. Simsbury has done nothing but great things for me. Here or any other town, anyone would have done what I just did.”
The full extent of the victim’s injuries was unknown and the condition after they were air lifted from the scene. The driver stayed on scene to cooperate with police, and it is unknown whether they will be charged with any crimes.
In regards to Trombly’s job, he and his attorney advised reporters that he would be appealing this decision to the Connecticut Labor Board in hopes of getting his job back.
Boulter declined to comment regarding the investigation or the termination hearing.
At this point you may be wondering, how does this prove that this job was a calling for Trombly, or in his blood. If his dedication to the career of law enforcement hasn’t been shown in his history of being a police explorer, an officer, and sitting on his hometown’s police commission, moments after learning his fate, and losing the job that he clearly loved, Trombly didn’t hesitate to jump into action to save lives.
Here’s a little backstory on the chief’s internal investigation.
The initial investigation started in April of this year, and concluded in September. In a news report written by the Hartford Courant;
In early April, before Boulter’s internal investigation began, Trombly and another sergeant were given written warnings. Trombly’s warning was for “neglect of duty, insubordination, and incompetence,” Boulter wrote in his investigation report.
Boulter wrote that the warning stemmed from video showing that officers were spending up to two hours of their shifts in the police department, instead of leaving immediately for patrol.
About a week after issuing this warning, Boulter wrote, he heard that Trombly was telling his coworkers that he had “secretly recorded” conversations with Boulter and with a lieutenant in the department.
The news report goes on to state that after Boulter issued the warnings to the officers, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers union representatives met with the chief and informed him that both Trombly and the other officer intended to file grievances in regards to the warnings. Boulter also indicated in his report that it was one of the union representatives that had informed him of the alleged recordings that Trombly had made.
After Boulter met with the union representatives, he conducted an interview with Trombly who at the time stated he had no recordings, and maintained that he had never made any. In email correspondence after the initial interview with the chief, Trombly wrote to him that he did not have taped recordings, but that he had taken written notes after he met with his superior officers in the past.
The Hartford Courant stated that, “Over the course of the summer, Boulter interviewed nine other officers, asking about Trombly’s alleged recording and also about a rumor that Trombly had been saying that Boulter was attempting to drive out a specific officer.”
It is reported that, during the course of interviews with other officers in the department, Boulter demanded that Trombly provide him with copies of the written notes and even gave him a flash drive to load them on to. At this time, Trombly reached out to his attorney.
His attorney advised him to not provide any documentation to the chief, and said that he would be following up with the Simsbury town attorney in regards to the legality of the request, and the ramifications of providing those documents.
When Trombly emailed the chief to advise him that he would not be providing the documentation, the chief responded back to him stating:
“I consider the misconduct insubordination and I expect compliance with a complete and prompt response to my directive.”
Sources say that, at this time, Trombly than provided Boulter with redacted copies of his notes, stating in a follow up email that he did so only “for fear of being disciplined.” For which, Boulter than made a second request for the full copies.
When Trombly provided the chief with the full copies of his notes, the Hartford Courant stated:
“Boulter wrote in his report that Trombly was not compliant because he had opened the document before sending it to the chief. This, the chief wrote, prohibited the chief from looking at the document’s meta-data and determining when the document was created.”
It was at this point that Boulter, five months after his investigation started, sent his recommendation to Town Manager Maria Capriola that Trombly be terminated.
It stands to reason to wonder why the chief was pushing so hard for the firing of Trombly, when the conversations involved him, what were they actually discussing and what could be so damaging that they needed to be recorded in some manner in the first place?
Trombly’s lawyer Jeffrey Ment argued against the allegations made by Boulter. Ment pushed back stating “that the internal investigation itself was unjust because Boulter was both the investigator and the victim of the alleged misconduct.” Ment has also stated that during the course of the investigation, Boulter made unlawful demands of Trombly.
Ment also went on to further argue, “You can’t be the person who thinks he was lied to, who then investigates it, who then makes the decision and who then decides the fate of the person. That’s an awful lot for one person to be doing, who’s tasked with being unbiased and impartial.”
In the original police commission meeting it was recorded that Ment told commissioners, “Jason’s not a liar, Jason’s not a dishonest person, Jason’s not a malicious gossiper. Jason took notes, he took notes about his boss, and then his boss demanded the notes.”
Ment stated to reporters, that the Chief should have brought in an outside organization to conduct the investigation, like other departments have done in similar cases. He noted that Hartford Police Department has had similar incidents, and have always used an outside organization to keep the bias out of the investigations.
Trombly joined the Simsbury police force in 2008 after graduating high school in 2005 from Suffield, where he was a member of Suffield Police Departments police explorer program for several years. Trombly also sits as a member of the police commission in Suffield, which is still his hometown.
Trombly’s hearing is now set for February.
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