NHPD Chief Ortiz suggests termination of two arrested officers yesterday

New Haven Police Department Chief Francisco Ortiz recommended Monday that the city terminate the jobs of two police officers arrested this month for stealing federal funds.

Both Lt. William “Billy” White and Detective Justen Kasperzyk had filed for early retirement after their arrests. Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said in a press release yesterday that he supports Ortiz’s recommendation, calling the officers’ alleged conduct “egregious” enough to warrant the firings.

“We wanted to be absolutely clear about our standards and expectations for the police department going forward,” DeStefano said. “This sends a very clear message that such a violation of public trust will not be tolerated or rewarded by the city.”

In making his recommendation to the Board of Police Commissioners, Ortiz charged White with nine violations of police rules, including discrediting or lowering NHPD morale, misappropriating certain properties for personal use and serving as a principal to a criminal offense. Kasperzyk faces seven violations, ranging from failure to report information to superior officers concerning a violation of law and engaging in conduct unbecoming to an officer.

The move, which came shortly after both officers filed paperwork to retire and thus collect their pensions, represents a break from past precedent in the city, when city employees accused of criminal activity were allowed to retire. But the mayor’s press release noted that “none of the previous cases were as severe as this, resulting in the disbanding of a unit and the need to conduct an outside review.”

Ward 5 Alderman Jorge Perez recently proposed that the Board of Aldermen consider passing a statute that would prevent city workers who are convicted of crimes related to their jobs from receiving pensions — one of the few moves the board is legally allowed to take in response to the FBI’s ongoing investigation of the NHPD.

“We have to make it clear that if you breach the public trust, it is going to cost you,” Perez said. “One way to do that is to minimize the benefits that doing your job in a criminal way will give you.”

—Andrew Mangino

New Haven to host youth-crime awareness events to educate community

Following a year of dramatically increased levels of youth violence and crime, New Haven will use the upcoming days to focus on the issue as part of National Youth Violence Prevention Week.

The city is coordinating several events this week to educate both youth and adults about violence prevention, according to a statement released by Mayor John DeStefano’s office. The highlights of New Haven’s effort, which is sponsored by the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere and GuidanceChannel.com, will take place on Wednesday and Thursday with events ranging from discussions with high-school students to athletic celebrations.

On Wednesday, both DeStefano and New Haven Police Department Chief Francisco Ortiz will participate in discussions with youth about possible approaches to the issue. DeStefano will first speak to the Citywide High School Student Council, and Ortiz will then speak with the Young Adult Police Commissioners at NHPD headquarters in the evening.

City officials will also attempt to offer youth an alternative to violence on Thursday during a celebration of Hillhouse High School’s capture of the football state title, when they will encourage children to participate in the city’s Biddie Basketball League.

In recent meetings of the Board of Aldermen’s Youth Services Committee, members explored reforms they could make to already existing youth programs in order to better coordinate outreach and cooperation — issues that several program leaders have raised before the committee.

—Charlotte Martin