Montville Police Lt. Leonard Bunnell is the subject of an internal affairs investigation being conducted by the Eastern District Major Crime Unit of the Connecticut State Police.
The investigation deals with a state police background-information database, and whether Bunnell used it improperly.
Bunnell is not on administrative leave; Mayor Ron McDaniel, who is the head of the police department, said that the state did not believe the allegations warranted administrative leave.
Lt. John S. Eckersley, commanding officer of Eastern District Major Crime, informed Bunnell in a letter dated April 3 that the complaint being investigated “concerns allegations that you…. Did not follow proper procedures for requesting criminal background checks on 38 occasions, between 10-28-11 and 01-28-12.”
The complaint was lodged by Lt. Samuel R. Izzarelli, commanding officer of Troop E, follosing a report by Versie Jones, an auditor with the COLLECT System.
According to its website, the Connecticut On-Line Law Enforcement Communications Teleprocessing (COLLECT) System lets users find information that the state has about people, and find motor vehicle and criminal history data on the national and international level.
The complaint alleges that when Jones performed a “pre-audit review” of the criminal history log of the COLLECT system, she noticed that Bunnell “was not following the proper procedure for requesting a criminal background check.”
The field for “Requester,” Jones wrote, should contain the name and rank of the person requesting the criminal history.
The reason for the request should contain a valid case number, Jones wrote. “If a case number is not available, a specific comment must be entered. This comment must indicate why the criminal history has been requested.”
The complaint alleges that Bunnell did not properly complete the required fields.
When Jones addressed the issue during the audit, she was “informed by Officer (Robin) Salvatore that she had reviewed the log and discovered misuse by Lt. Leonard Bunnell.”
Salvatore showed Jones a computer entry by Bunnell “that documented a criminal history request by the Parks and Rec Director for a volunteer coach. She stated that Lt. Bunnell was instructed that he could not give criminal history information for Town Hall and City Hall requests during his recent re-certification class in August.”
Jones wrote that she told Salvatore that “I would have to submitted an additional criminal history request for all inquiries requested by Lt. Bunnell (to) verify the legitimate use of the COLLECT/NCIC system.”
Jones also requested all criminal history requests logged by Bunnell. It was then that the 38 requests came to light.
McDaniel would not comment any further on the investigation or allegations.
Eckersley would not confirm that there was an investigation, nor would he answer any questions.
Bunnell could not be reached for comment.
Around the state, the results of similar charges have varied.
- In Torrington, former officer Hector Medina, was arrested Feb. 9 on 58 counts of third-degree computer crimes relating to unauthorized access of the Collect and ST Stop Stat databases. According to the Register-Citizen, Medina pleaded not guilty in March to second-degree false statement. A second officer has been placed on leave while similar allegations are investigated against him.
- In January, according to the Bulletin, a 16-year veteran of the Norwich Police Department was suspended without pay, for misusing the COLLECT database and other misconduct.
- A Madison police officer was fired after being criminally charged with accessing the database, according to the Bulletin.