Residents Oppose Rehiring of Sergeant Who Hindered Police Investigation

| by Lina Batarags

In 2012, Sgt. Robert Koistinen was fired after being arrested and charged with hindering a police investigation involving his son Michael, who was also a Windsor Locks officer at the time.

On Oct. 29, 2010, Michael Koistinen hit and killed 15-year-old bicyclist Henry Dang, also of Windsor Locks. Michael was fired after the crash. He was convicted of manslaughter and tampering with evidence, and is now serving a 64-month prison sentence.

Robert Koistinen was the highest-ranking police officer to respond immediately to the scene of the accident.

A state jury acquitted Robert Koistinen of hindering the police investigation in October of 2012, mere months after he was fired. Koistinen then filed a lawsuit against the town contesting his firing.

More recently, he also filed a lawsuit against state police, claiming that he was falsely arrested. Koistinen alleges that state police either “ignored or intentionally left out details of the investigation” that didn’t fit they narrative they were constructing, of a father trying to cover up for his son.

In February, the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration issued an order to rehire Robert Koistinen.

The board said that Koistinen should have been suspended without pay for one year for his actions, but not fired.

On Wednesday night, the town Police Commission voted to appeal the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration’s decision to rehire Robert Koistinen.

Of its attempt to block Koistinen from returning to the police department, Chairman Kevin Brace said, “This was done to correct what the Windsor Locks Police Commission felt was an erroneous decision…that is not in the best interests of the Windsor Locks Police Department or the residents of Windsor Locks.”

Brace continued on to say that rehiring Koistinen would be harmful to the town’s attempts to regain residents’ trust.

On Wednesday night, several residents spoke to the commission and expressed opposition to Koistinen’s being allowed to return to the department.

“I urge the police commission to do everything possible to ensure that Mr. Koistinen is never put in a position to serve this community,” said resident Christine Lesnieski.

“He’s had that chance before and he chose not to. He served himself instead,” continued Lesnieski.

Koistinen was making a $75,000 a year when he was fired in January 2012. If he is rehired according to the arbitration ruling, the town will have to pay his salary for the past 13 months after accounting for the one-year unpaid suspension.


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