NORWALK, Conn. — Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff claims he was intimidated and spat at by officers at the Norwalk Police Department.
Duff alleged the incident happened on July 24th. He had a meeting set with the department executive board to discuss the police accountability bill that was on its way to the state senate at the time.
He alleges from the moment he walked in the door, the department was a hostile environment.
"Two officers behind me said 'what the 'F' is he doing here," said Senator Duff.
Duff says the intimidation didn't stop there. During his meeting with the executive board, more officers unexpectedly arrived. He says probably 20 officers "stormed in". In a letter to the Norwalk Police Union, Duff called the action a during what he called "a show of force".
Duff says he talked with the officers and heard all of their concerns before the meeting concluded. He walked to his car with another officer to continue their conversation, but some officers followed.
"There were about 15 officers behind him. [An officer] looked at me and that’s when he spat at me," said Duff.
Duff says he was then escorted to his car while close to 30 officers watched. He stated in his letter to the union that he was “dumbfounded” by the incident and it was a moment he’d never forget.
Duff says he reported the event to Norwalk Chief of Police Thomas Kulhawik and then let the incident go. It recently came to light when the letter he sent to the police union on August 20th to deny their endorsement of him was shared publicly by someone in the email chain.
"How are they treating people who don’t have a voice and don’t look like me? That’s the big question," said Duff.
Chief Kulhawik told FOX61 in a statement that he was disappointed with what occurred. He recalls it being an emotional and uncertain time for officers.
"The whole situation is very disappointing. I’m disappointed that it occurred at all and disappointed that several weeks later, as emotions have calmed, it has been highly publicized for whatever reasons when we are scheduled to meet later this week. I recall it was a very emotional time for officers as well as members in the legislature as the police bill was being debated and voted upon. There was a lot of unknowns at that time.
The description of events as relayed by officers differs a bit from Sen Duff’s account, but regardless, it is clear that the behavior of some was not acceptable as everyone deserves to be treated respectfully. I can appreciate that Sen Duff felt disrespected by some members of the department when he visited the union meeting that Friday.
I hope to have good meeting and discussion with the Senator as we have always enjoyed an excellent relationship," said Chief Kulhawik.
Duff made clear it's these kinds of actions that are why the police accountability bill was needed.
"This is not a brotherhood. This is a profession," said Duff. "We expect our police to be professionals and at the highest levels of our society."
Duff and the Chief Kulhawik have a meeting set up to discuss the incident this Friday. Duff isn’t sure how it will go but he hopes they can work together to reaffirm the standards expected of officers policing this community.
The Norwalk Police Union has not responded to our request for comment at this time.