Trooper Suspended 15 Days
Response To 911 Call Called Inappropriate

March 22 2005

A state trooper was suspended for 15 days without pay Monday for
telling the friend of a seriously injured motorcyclist "too bad,"
and hanging up on him when he called 911 for help last August.

State police said Trooper Robert Peasley's behavior did not affect
the response time to the accident or contribute to the death of
Justin Sawyer, 21, of Bozrah. Sawyer died of head injuries several
days after the crash in Bozrah.

"The investigation revealed inappropriate and unprofessional
language," said Sgt. J. Paul Vance, a state police spokesman. "The
investigation revealed that despite the comments, state police and
emergency service arrived promptly."

But state police Commissioner Leonard C. Boyle said residents expect
more from the state police when they call for help.

"When someone reports a serious incident on a 911 call, the person
receiving that call has an obligation to receive information, convey
information back to that person and do so in a respectful manner,"
Boyle said Monday.

Sawyer's family hired a lawyer, complained to state police, and
requested the tape of the incident after learning what the trooper
had said to Sawyer's friend. No lawsuit has been filed. Sawyer's
family could not be reached for comment Monday.

Peasley, who was working the dispatch desk in the Troop E barracks
in Montville, was punished after an internal affairs investigation
for several offenses, including conduct unbecoming a police officer,
inefficient action and lack of decorum, police said.

The trooper hung up on the caller because he apparently thought he
had received several other calls about the same incident. But Boyle
said the investigation showed that the call from the friend was the
first Troop E received for that accident. It also showed that
Peasley was rude to a second caller who reported the accident,
telling him Sawyer "shouldn't have been riding that way."

Union officials said they will fight to reduce the punishment,
especially considering that Peasley, an 18-year veteran, has a good
record and had not previously been in trouble.

"It's a tragedy. But the discipline imposed is extremely harsh and
not warranted," union President David LeBlanc said Monday.

LeBlanc said Peasley and the one civilian dispatcher on duty on the
evening of Aug. 17 were swamped with calls from another accident and
several other incidents.

LeBlanc said the incident illustrates the stress on dispatchers and
troopers who man the desks at the busiest barracks.

"It's out of control, and the agency has refused to staff it
appropriately," LeBlanc said.

Boyle said the department is looking into ways to better handle 911
calls.

"In this instance, the investigation established the trooper had the
opportunity and should have taken and provided more information,"
Boyle said.