Vermont investigating report of racism by state troopers
WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) — State police officials are investigating reports that off-duty troopers made racist and misogynistic comments while playing an online game, said the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety.
In the statement released Thursday afternoon, Commissioner Jennifer Morrison said that state police received a report Monday from state Sen. Nader Hashim about the behavior, which was reported to him by a constituent who was relaying an anonymous complaint.
Morrison said the initial information about the incident didn’t include enough detail to open an investigation, so police went back to the source. Over the next 24 hours, state police Lt. Robert McKenna, the director of the Office of Internal Affairs, received more information and an investigation was opened.
The incident, stemming from an online game in which players compete to write rap verses, was first reported by the online news organization, VTDigger.org.
“I want to be clear: The Vermont State Police and I take all complaints regarding misconduct of state troopers, on duty or off, with the utmost seriousness,” Morrison said. “At no time did I or anyone else within the state police suggest that an investigation would not be opened; we advised only that additional information was necessary. Once that information was received, we immediately launched a formal internal investigation.”
The Associated Press sent Hashim, a Democrat from Windham County, an email Friday seeking more information.
Morrison said that due to the confidentiality requirements surrounding internal investigations, they were unable to comment on the specific allegations. Once the internal investigation is complete, she and the state police will consult the State Police Advisory Commission on next steps and provide to the public whatever information can be released.
This version corrects that the original information was reported to the state senator by a constituent who was relaying an anonymous complaint.