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Dennis Spaulding: 'I Am Not A Racist'

In a public post on his Facebook page, Dennis Spaulding — the former East Haven Police officer sentenced to five years in prison Thursday — shares his letter to the court, which seeks to provide "a more complete picture of who I really am."

East Haven Police Department cruiser. Credit: Julie Weisberg
East Haven Police Department cruiser. Credit: Julie Weisberg
Late Thursday afternoon, former East Haven Police Officer Dennis Spaulding was sentenced to five years in prison after he was found guilty of civil rights violations related to the racial profiling of Latino residents.

After receiving that sentence, Spaulding took to his personal Facebook page Thursday evening and shared in a public and open post his letter to the judge overseeing the case, Alvin W. Thompson.

"During the course of this trial, I have been portrayed as a bully and a racist," Spaulding stated in the letter's opening paragraph. "I would like to use this opportunity to give the court, in my own words, a more complete picture of who I really am and a deeper understanding of my actions."

The following is Spaulding's post and sentencing statement to the court in full: 

Dear Honorable Judge Alvin W. Thompson:

My Name is Dennis Spaulding:

During the course of this trial, I have been portrayed as a bully and a racist. I would like to use this opportunity to give the court, in my own words, a more complete picture of who I really am and a deeper understanding of my actions.

Since the time I was 16 years old, I have worked side-by-side with undocumented immigrates in the restaurant business. They have shared their stories and their struggles to enter this country, most times coming through the desert with little food or water. They have shared their struggle to continue to live in the shadows. As I told Father Manship numerous times, I applaud his efforts to push for immigration reform. The undocumented population, which I have met, truly are hardworking people who struggle every day for the betterment of their lives and the lives of their families. I hope the federal government will soon address these issues.

One of my good friends, Edison or as we call him, MO, is an undocumented immigrant. I had the pleasure of working with Mo for almost 3 years and have been friends ever since. When I formed a softball team, I asked Mo if he wanted to play, although he was more of a soccer player, I offered to teach him. I met with him and some of his Ecuadorian friends several times a week, at a baseball field down the street from work. When the season started Mo played left field, although he wasn’t very good, he loved putting on the uniform and just being on the field. Mo and his wife, Johanna, have two children together and it was my wife, who is a nurse and a board certified lactation specialist, who took care of them in the hospital when they had their second child. It was also my wife that they called afterward for breastfeeding advice.

When another co-worker and friend, Fernando who is also undocumented, told me that he wanted to go to a New York Mets game, but was afraid to drive there because he didn’t have a valid license, I bought us two tickets to a double header and together we went. I will never forget the look on his face when we entered that stadium, the old Shay Stadium, a place that he had only seen on TV. It was a truly breathtaking experience for him as it was his first Major League baseball game. 

I am not a racist, nor do I use racist language. When others use it, it makes me uncomfortable and I do my best to ignore it. 

Per the advice of my counsel, I will not go into details regarding the two incidents to which I was convicted, but would like to offer the following:

While working the center district of town, I began to notice a rash of vehicles with out-of-state license plates, and began to investigate. The overwhelming problem stemmed from the State of Pennsylvania. Sometime around 2007 and early 2008, I had numerous encounters with vehicles with Pennsylvania plates. The driver’s almost never had a license and had the same computer printed insurance card, from the American Independent Insurance Company. Through my investigation, I was able to determine that these insurance cards were fake and the license plates were fraudulently obtained. The owners were paying up to $1500 for them.

Shortly after seeing how large scale this was, I contacted Allen Cohon, a News Channel 8 investigative reporter. Allen quickly saw how large this fraud was and immediately began to look into it. With assistance from a New Haven Lieutenant, and myself, Allen was able to break the case wide open. News Channel 8 aired numerous segments regarding this story and soon after over 1500 license plates were cancelled by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and two arrests were made for selling the plates and forged documents. By my estimates this was a fraud resulted in nearly $2 million dollars exchanging hands with those involved in this organized crime. After working with Allen on the Pennsylvania plates, I had opened other investigations into states with similar problems. I had provided the FBI with the information that they would need to obtain my case files regarding these investigations. Some of the worst fraud was occurring with Washington State, Wisconsin and South Carolina.

It was a top priority of mine and to the department to get these vehicles off the road, as the drivers were mostly unlicensed and uninsured. This led to hundreds and hundreds of motor vehicle arrests of drivers of these vehicle’s, which were almost always from Central or South America. Most of these driver’s had identification cards or passports issued by foreign countries or admitted to being in the United States illegally. This led to tensions, between the police and the Hispanic community and a feeling that they were being targeted, during the period of 2008 and 2010. The entire department was aware of this fraud as well as the mayor, police chief, supervisors and local prosecutors, who aggressively prosecuted these crimes. During an election year, Mayor April Capone sent out flyers explaining the crack down on what she described as “tax-cheats” with out-of-state license plates. Working the most heavily populated Hispanic district in town and having initiated these investigations, I bore the brunt of criticism and attacks from those that opposed the enforcement of these laws. Yes, in 2008, early in the Pennsylvania plate investigation LT Butler spoke to me about his profiling concerns. After explaining the fraud, my reasonable suspicion for stopping the vehicles and the intelligence that I had gathered, he never raised the concerns again. In fact he continued to sign off on the arrest reports and set the bond for the individuals arrested.

Officers within the department would often patrol their districts looking for motor vehicles with fraudulent out-of-state plates, as well as stolen or unregistered Connecticut plates. Often times, one of these vehicles would be spotted parked in a parking lot and officers would take up a position across the street or near by, waiting for the driver to enter the street, so that they could be quickly apprehended, before putting the public endanger. I think it is worth noting that nearly every conflict listed in the indictment, between a member of the Hispanic community and myself, started over license plates or during a traffic stop of a vehicle with out-of-state license plates. I know that it was the individual’s undocumented status that result in these crimes being committed, as no lawful resident of the United States or a United States citizen would ever pay $1500 for a registration that costs around $100. It was not because they were of Hispanic decent. It was the crime that was targeted, not the color of someone’s skin.

Soon after arresting some of these individuals, the police officers began to see, some of these individuals had extensive and sometimes violent arrest records, It was soon determined that these records should be forwarded to Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who are better trained and prepared to make decisions when dealing with these issues. Speaking more Spanish then most, I became the department’s unofficial liaison to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Supervisors would sometimes call me off the road to assist other officers in contacting ICE via our computer system, better known as NCIC. At one time LT. Butler had me type up an instructional guide regarding this process, so that it could be use by other members of the department when I was not working. Though, Immigration officials only issued about 20 federal detainers a year between 2009-2011, for what they considered a “top priority”, panic quickly spread among members of the Hispanic community and further strained relations with the East Haven Police Department. To date, this nation still does not have a solution to the problem. When tensions continued to mount over these two issues, it was the East Haven Police union who took out a full-page ad in our local newspaper to try and calm the situation. Explaining the problem with unlicensed drivers and fraudulently obtained out-of state license plates. Also explaining that immigration officials where only being contacted when suspected undocumented immigrants were arrested and at no other time.

I worked the center district of town for many years, sometimes working up to 60-80 hours per week. During that time, I tried to meet with every Hispanic business owner to inform them about the motor vehicle enforcement that the department was engaged in, to try to calm some of the tensions. I requested that business owners assist me in coming up with a solution to the problem. Instead of assisting in a solution, some business owners continually requested that I simply ignore or not enforce the motor vehicle laws on the undocumented population. Further stating the motor vehicle enforcement was hurting their businesses, as a large percentage of their customers were undocumented. Ignoring the law was not a solution that I was willing to accept, so I continued to informed individual that they were being exploited. That the $1500 they were paying for these registrations was being used to line the pockets of greedy individuals. Greedy individuals that could care less if an undocumented immigrant was arrested for possessing one of these license plates or fake insurance card.

During my time working the center district, of town, I made numerous requests for the department to send to the Spanish speaking classes, so I could better serve the community, which I worked for. When these requests were denied, I paid to attend a Spanish class at Gateway Community College and took a trip to Puerto Rico with my elderly neighbor to further help in learning the language.

Through meeting with my attorney, I learned that the FBI New Haven office initially investigated this case. Their tactics included driving a validly registered vehicle, with Hispanic drivers and passengers, to see if the they would get pulled over. After attempting this, several times, the vehicle was never pulled over by myself or any other member of East Haven Police Department. After the FBI New Haven Case Agent reported that the case went dormant, he destroyed the nearly one in thick case file, which could have contained several hundred documents. We will never know if any exculpatory evidence was contained within.

I was also aggressively involved in enforce DWI laws and have received statewide recognition by Mothers Against Drunk Driving 4 years in a row between 2007 and 2010. Being a police officer in the town of East Haven, I knew I was more likely to save a life through motor vehicle enforcement, then through any other means. Far more people are killed by motor vehicles in East Haven then by any other method.
Being an East Haven Police officer, all to often I have had to see a dead body lying on the asphalt, or a paramedic desperately trying to revive a person, whom we all know will never make it. This is one of the main reasons why, I aggressively enforced motor vehicle laws.

Under the previous ownership of LaBamba’s Restaurant I was employed there as a police officer for added security in a rough, problematic bar. Soon after, the owner of Barra’s café requested that I also work for him. These bars required added police resources and attention. Despite hiring a police officer to work on busy nights, police were still dispatch there several hundred times. Between 2007 and 2010 police were dispatch to these two bars more than any other businesses in town. These businesses were heavily patrolled by police. Every Friday and Saturday 2 or 3 extra officers in addition to the 2 midnight officers were held over to assist with policing these bars. I worked extra duty at both bars for years and have made many casual friends at both establishments. 

During my eight-year career, I have always been a proactive police officer, as sitting in a parking lot reading a newspaper, was never an option for me. In that time, I have made over 1000 criminal arrests and have no shortage of enemies or people that wish me ill will. My arrests include, drug dealers, drug users, armed robbery suspects, shooting suspects, car thieves, assault suspects, drunk drivers, shoplifters, child molesters, as well as motor vehicle arrests. Many of these individuals will soon celebrate the fact that I am going to prison.

Now that I have been tried and convicted by a jury of my peers, it is to late for me to take the stand in my own defense. I will have to live with that decision for the rest of my life. The transition from a decorated police officer to a convicted felon, will not be an easy one for me.

The pain and suffering that my family has been through is unimaginable. I have lost my career as a police officer, a career that I loved. As much as I loved my career, I love my family the most. It is my wife Nicole and our two children, Tyler and Isabelle, who will suffer the most while I am away. I ask that you please let me return to my family as soon as possible, so that I can continue to raise my children. 

Thank you for you time.
Lance Coughlin January 25, 2014 at 07:05 PM
I'm still wondering if ant of the cops started working for the Feds to get a better deal, because that would be messed up, especially if it was one if Lenny's pets lol.
Lance Coughlin January 25, 2014 at 07:09 PM
For purposes of full disclosure I checked the receipts at a store on state street in 093 also around the same time lol, they loved me in there they got a big kick out of it when The Staven popo came to the hood to shake things up a bit
Patrick Madley January 25, 2014 at 08:13 PM
Just a quick thought, after reading through these comments I see that many people here seem to not like Robert "Danny" Hoff. Yet, he still continues to post on Patch. My advice, if I could give any, is to stop posting on Patch. It is obvious the people on Patch do not like you, judging by their comments. That being said, I wouldn't post on Patch if everything I posted got me in trouble with the other view ship of Patch. Just my opinion. Oh, and lastly, Bridget and Kelly, quality posts by both of you as always.
maria tonelli January 26, 2014 at 09:00 AM
Richard, don't shoot the messenger. I was born and raised in new haven and have worked there since I was fourteen. And yes, the ID card was a vote getting initiative. However the program did more harm than good. New Haven has become "the place" to go for the recently incarcerated, methadone using, homeless population. It is busting at the seams and is the reason why the former mayor has chosen to step down. I live the problem every day at work in the library.
Richard Poulton January 26, 2014 at 09:39 AM
@Lance- what would have done if these store owners refused to turn over those receipts?
Richard Poulton January 26, 2014 at 09:43 AM
@Maria- Based my comment back to you that way, for yours made the program sound like it was the best thing since sliced bread. FYI, I never shoot the messenger, just look for a deeper reason for a comment or question.
maria tonelli January 26, 2014 at 10:11 AM
Richard, I clearly posted that I was quoting from another source. I was not commenting, simply trying to illustrate how our problems here in east haven are a fallout from what has gone on in new haven. As to your deeper reasoning I'm suggesting that you read more carefully next time. No offense meant, hopefully none taken.
Lance Coughlin January 26, 2014 at 12:01 PM
I wouldn't have done a damn thing.
Ermenegilda Zenga Uomo January 26, 2014 at 03:02 PM
Spaulding's meandering, misspelled, childish letter has backfired. Clearly the man sunk himself.
Ermenegilda Zenga Uomo January 26, 2014 at 03:05 PM
Folks have a right to express themselves without being subjected to a witch hunt. If you take umbrage with someone's posts, don't read them.
Ermenegilda Zenga Uomo January 26, 2014 at 03:08 PM
BTW, the lack of originality on Patch is astounding. Between the mimics and the haters, this place has digressed to the point of insanity. It is simply not fun to read or post here anymore.
Peter T. Cianelli January 26, 2014 at 03:47 PM
Ermenegilda Zenga Uomo...... just leave if you don't like what your reading..... your the coward that hides behind a phony name... I'll be the first to donate to Dennis Spaulding's appeal fund !!!!!
not born yesterday January 26, 2014 at 03:51 PM
He was already denied for that send your money to the kid he had as a sympathy card knowing he was facing a lot of time in jail
Robert D. Hoff January 26, 2014 at 04:24 PM
Peter, This is off subject but are you saying that everyone who posts behind a phony name is a coward?
Ermenegilda Zenga Uomo January 26, 2014 at 05:03 PM
Abusers support abusers. I rest my case.
Truthful January 26, 2014 at 05:42 PM
Hoff, I think that is exactly what he is saying. Remember D.K.? Man, that guy was a coward!
Mickey dee January 26, 2014 at 08:36 PM
Sad part about the whole ordeal is we have laws on the books that are supposed to deal with illegals . It's to bad our un functional leaders cannot follow there own laws. Why are they being ignored. They have let this problem get out of hand and now they want to reward them with amnesty while others who are trying to do the right thing wait patiently. If your here illegal your a criminal and should be treated as so no if and or buts. Why not start ignoring all the laws and give every one who breaks them a pass as they are getting. I feel if your here illegal you have broke the law and if you were not here none of this could happen. Send them all back arrest any one who gives them a job or a place to live and it will stop . Why would you want to come here if there was no reward . It's time to put a stop to it and it will stop draining our system of dollars that legal citizens should be getting. It would also ease the strain on medical bills which we pay a premium on to offset all the free loaders who check into the hospital with out having to pay a dime. I feel the officers who were prosecuted got a raw deal there may have been a few violations but on the whole they were doing the job they were hired for. I wonder if you go through a stop sign or get caught for another minor violation why can't they just let you go there is no difference here you are breaking the law and no one cares . It's time to put a stop to it and it seems that's what these guys were doing. If they made a few mistakes they should have been brought in and straighten out it seems like most were aware of what was going on from the top down and why was it not stopped sooner if it was wrong. There is no way that just these officers should go down . I guess there was no communication and one hand did not know what the other was doing. What I here on the patch is politics speaking ,same reason our leaders in Washington are fighting for amnesty all they have in mind is the vote.
Robert D. Hoff January 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM
Truthful, I highly doubt that on your birth certificate your name is "Truthful" so.......
Richard Poulton January 27, 2014 at 01:01 PM
This goes along the line as to the Mickie dee comment. WE have a gutless president and an even worse A.G.. Someone please explain how this country can allow two international fugatives wanted by a soverign country with InterPol warrants ready, who are in this country illegally and are left alone. These two (brothers) stole millions from a bank in Ecuador and using money slipped into the U.S., now living the high life in FL. AS well as the FBI is investigating a sitting US Sen (Menendez) from NJ in taking money from these two in trying to get them legal. Why are they still here? Holder can demand the NSA leaker to be handed over for trial but he refuses to hand over wanted fugatives hiding in this country.
Truthful January 27, 2014 at 02:14 PM
You are correct, on my birth certificate is not the word "Truthful". Truthful is my pseudonym. Now, back to me previous comment, don't deflect my comment by trying to attack me. You created a name that switched letters of another person's name. Weird. Creepy. Are we done now?
Ermenegilda Zenga Uomo January 27, 2014 at 04:11 PM
Silly me, only Turcio-Porter is allowed to use a pseudonym. The rest of us will be subjected to witch hunts and guessing games. How utterly pathetic and hypocritical.
CitizenVoice January 27, 2014 at 04:36 PM
Beware of using your real name on this site. This is not a safe place for intelligent idea exchange or debate. I've seen what happens to people using their real names in here when the local bullies (and you know who you are) don't happen to agree with what they have to say. All kinds of personal (dirty laundry) gets posted including police records, financial information and any rumor or gossip that can be dug up, as well as out-right threats. There are other reputable blogs where I post using my real name but not here. I'm surprised the site manager hasn't posted a warning.
Robert D. Hoff January 27, 2014 at 04:48 PM
If the site manager isn't capable of properly doing their job and enforcing the rules perhaps they should be replaced?
Truthful January 27, 2014 at 06:50 PM
What rules are you referring to? And what site manager?
Bob Fawkes January 27, 2014 at 07:10 PM
Hope Spaulding makes plenty of Hispanic and Negro friends in prison where they'll all be side by side, making the very license plates he was so eager to protect us from. Now that Zullo, Cari and Spaulding have been served up a big heaping dose of Karmic justice, it's time for the big tuna, Sgt. Jon Miller to receive his. Local Staven bookie, the "Beaver", put the word out that it's even money that Ratso Miller will walk away with a slap on the wrist, that being an 18 month suspended sentence. Such is the way of our criminal justice system these days. Talk and walk.
JJ4 January 27, 2014 at 09:41 PM
Spaulding is a racist. He hates the human race. My family has lived in EH for over 30 yrs. We are Puerto Rican we have never been profiled, why? Because we don't do anything that warrants a police encounter.
raffaelina voira January 28, 2014 at 09:39 AM
I ca'not believe what I'm reading. I am a foreigner and entering this Country had to go thru proper Chanels including learning the English language. There is a problem when the United States makes changes to cater to foreigners. These police officers, none that I know personally, were working for the Town of East Haven, under a leader, following rules. Everyone has rules where they work. If they were doing wrong, why were they not stopped? Why were they not properly trained? Where was their leader? We are taking these young men away from their families and putting them in jail for doing the job that the town of East Haven was paying them to do. Hope no one that's taken part in punishing these young men is ever involved in an auto accident with someone with no license, insurance, or car registration. Shame on Father Manship and I will send a nice letter to Hartford and Rome.
raffaelina voira January 28, 2014 at 09:42 AM
What I did not mention is that I am NOT a racist!
Anti Bigot February 01, 2014 at 04:37 PM
I can't believe how everyone is so quick to remind others that they're NOT RACISTS. How laughable is that? Actions speak louder than words. Simply verbalizing it is not enough to convince anyone. Racists and bigots are that way by nature and the upbringing they were subjected to. Police that do NOT uphold the constitution as they are paid by our tax dollars to do, should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, because at the end of the day, NO ONE is above the law. Spaulding's letter cries GUILT. It was longer than a novel for pete's sake.
raffaelina voira February 02, 2014 at 11:08 PM
The police department did not have the right training. This has nothing to do with their upbringing or what they believe in. If one of the officers was your son, you would see it in a different way. Just pray everyday that no one in your family is ever in an auto accident with someone that has no license, registration, or insurance. I was stopped at a red light on Frontage Road one day facing north and there was a car stopped at the same red light going south. An SUV rammed the other car from behind going too fast and could not stop. The car that was hit and in the right took off before the person that hit him could get out of the car. Why do you think that the car took off. Didn't he want the person that hit him pay for the damage. I think that he decided to pay the damage himself because he had no drivers license and therefore no insurance. You better think about this because people that obey the law have rights also.

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