NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut fire chief has been placed on paid leave after an investigation faulted him for racial insensitivity and concluded minority firefighters have a reason to perceive racial bias in the department.
This August 2017 photo released by the city of New Britain, Conn., shows a display of portraits of the city’s former fire chiefs on a wall of honor inside the city’s Fire Department headquarters. The portrait of Chief Mark Carr, far right, who led the department from 2004 to 2012 was hung with the others in March at the direction of city lawyers. An investigation prompted by Chief Thomas Ronalter’s refusal to hang the photograph of the department’s first black fire chief faulted Ronalter for racial insensitivity. (City of New Britain via AP)
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart on Thursday placed Fire Chief Thomas Ronalter on leave effective Friday and expects to begin disciplinary proceedings next week. Stewart also named an interim leader of the department, Deputy Chief Peter Margentino.
The investigation was prompted by Ronalter’s refusal to hang a photograph of the department’s first Black chief, Mark Carr, on a wall of honor. Carr retired in 2012 and died two years later.
Ronalter released a statement Thursday saying he detests racism and has never treated people differently based on race. He says he won’t resign and will fight the allegations.