Residents in the Connecticut town of Windsor locks are at war over a police officer winning his job back after being fired for covering up his son’s vehicular homicide. Robert Koistinen was arrested and charged with hindering prosecution in the October 2010 prosecution that killed teenage bicyclist Henry Dang. Even worse, Koistinen’s son, Michael, was a rookie police officer at the time; he is currently serving a 64-month sentence for manslaughter and tampering with evidence. Despite this, an arbitration panel ruled this week that Robert should get his job back.
State police reported that Robert prevented investigators from talking to his son after the crash and did not reveal information about possible witnesses. He was later acquitted of any criminal charges in October 2012 and sued both the town and state police for false arrest and back wages for his time off the force. Connecticut’s Labor Board recently ruled that Robert’s conduct was inappropriate but not illegal, and didn’t violate any official rules of police conduct. The labor board felt he should have been suspended without pay, but there is now over $100,000 in back wages at stake.
An appeal over the arbitration panel’s ruling will soon be heard in court and many residents believe it would be a detriment to the town if he got his job back. “This town just can’t have him back on the force,” said resident Kimberly Pease. “There’s no way. He’s lost all credibility.” Town officials also noted that the case caused great damage to the community and a great deal of trust had to be restored after the fatal crash. Koistinen had been on the force since 1978 and had no incidents of misconduct prior to this case.