Derby mayor condemns alleged post on fire chief's Facebook

DERBY — Mayor Richard Dziekan Thursday condemned an alleged social media post on the city fire chief’s Facebook page that he said suggested violence to control protests in New York City over the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

Dziekan issued a statement over a June 1 post made on Fire Chief Robert Laskowski’s Facebook page that since has been deleted. The comments allegedly referred to protesting that occurred in NYC that day, the mayor said.

The Facebook post, allegedly made on Laskowski’s page, said, “If anyone is bored listen to NYPD citywide on the scanner app and listed to what they are dealing with right now!”

Another person replied to the post with “been listening insane,” to which the post attributed to Laskowski allegedly replied, “they need a few Blackhawks with snipers to solve the problem!”

Dziekan said Laskowski doesn’t deserve to hold a public position.

“The Chief’s comments suggested that the military use violent tactics to control the protesters,” Dziekan said. “Statements of violence are not protected by the First Amendment and will not be tolerated by my administration. The Fire Chief’s statement reflects poorly on the department that he represents, as well as our great City.”

Former Derby Fire Chief Robert Laskowski

Former Derby Fire Chief Robert Laskowski

Michael P. Mayko / Hearst Connecticut Media file /

Several attempts to reach Laskowski by phone and email were unsuccessful. However, Laskowski told the Valley Independent Sentinel that his comments were not representative of the city or the Fire Department.

“It was just an off-the-cuff comment I made when it sounded like the city was falling apart and the police were losing control,” Laskowski told the Valley Independent Sentinel. “It sounded like police were on their own, and my comment was just that they needed military help to calm things down. I didn’t say go shoot people. I didn’t say anything racist. It sounded like complete chaos. They needed help. That’s what I was saying.”

Dziekan said that, upon learning of Laskowski’s comments, he met with Fire Commissioner Gary Parker and a decision was made to put Laskowski on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Dziekan, a retired Hamden police officer and Air Force veteran, said any comments suggesting violent actions would not be tolerated.

“The Fire Chief’s posting, in this day and age, and in the face of this sickening tragedy, demonstrates that he is particularly tone-deaf to current events and not reflective of the Derby community,” Dziekan added. “His posting does not represent the good men and women that serve our community, undermines the integrity of the department and is contrary to the department’s goals. A person with such a cavalier disregard to this event does not deserve to serve in a public position.”

He further said, “My administration does not and will not accept inappropriate statements or behavior, on any level and in any capacity, by public officials, employees or anyone that represents our City. On behalf of our City, we wholeheartedly condemn the actions of the police officers in Minneapolis who were involved in the mistreatment and death of George Floyd. Our hearts are breaking and our condolences are with the family of George Floyd as they grieve the unnecessary loss of their family member.”

Parker, as fire commissioner, has sole authority to conduct a hearing and decide on any possible disciplinary action against Laskowski.

Laskowski, a corporate jet pilot, is a 22-year member of the East End Hose Co., and was promoted to chief last year. Parker said he was not aware of any previous incidents involving Laskowski that required disciplinary action.