Patch’s confirmation that state police found Lt. Leonard Bunnell guilty of improperly accessing a state computer database raised concerns about the in the company of the very system he was found to have abused.
But Mayor Ronald McDaniel said “every arrangement has been made to make sure he is not in contact with (the computer database) and any information (from the database.”
“He’s not using it. He’s not around it. It’s isolated, away from him,” he said.
A found and the facts and circumstances support the determination that (Bunnell’s) actions were contrary to existing policy.”
The investigation the Connecticut On-Line Law Enforcement Communications Teleprocessing System that allows users to access state and national information about people and find motor vehicle and criminal history data on the national and international level.
“He’s under orders from me, from the state,” McDaniel said. “His COLLECT privileges have been suspended by the state, he doesn’t have the permissions to get on.”
In fact, Montville Patch obtained a May memo to state police sergeants, troopers and dispatchers cautioning them that Bunnell was forbidden from accessing the database. But not just the database, but any information including hard copy reports. And he was precluded from "calling in" for any information.
When a reporter asked McDaniel how a commanding police officer can function as one without having access to law enforcement information like criminal background data, McDaniel said he “can do his job anyway.”
“His job is as the administrative officer. He does scheduling, budgets, community policing. He doesn’t need to have any of that kind of (data found on a criminal database) to do his job.”
There has been concern expressed about the possibility of losing access to COLLECT given Bunnell returned to work. McDaniel said he couldn’t equivocally assure that the town would not lose access to COLLECT with Bunnell still on the job. And that concern even more pressing as the public safety building nears completion. The building contains a large dispatch center designed as a regional center. The town is banking on other communities signing on with Montville as the regional dispatcher, but without COLLECT, that hope may be in jeopardy.
“I can’t state with absolute certainty it won’t be (an issue). I’m waiting to find out,” he said.
State COLLECT officer Joan Hilliard told Patch she was not permitted to speak about Bunnell and suggested a reporter contact state police public information officer Lt. Paul Vance.
Last month Vance suggested Patch file a Freedom of Information Act request for case information, which was done, although a staff attorney said "it might take awhile" to get that file.
Meanwhile, McDaniel said he has not made a decision on what discipline or punishment he'll hand down to Bunnell for the veteran police officer’s actions.
“I’m waiting for more information from the state before I finalize my decision,” he said. Bunnell had his of the story.”
The other investigation
Bunnell was also the subject of a 7-month sexual harassment and workplace discrimination investigation after complaints were lodged by Montville Police School Resource Officer Karen Moorehead. In that case, an investigator determined the allegations "generally happened," including inappropriate comments about Moorehead’s breasts and intimidation, but it was deemed the instances, while "inappropriate ...did not rise to the level” of workplace and sexual harassment and discrimination.