State police assigned to the investigation into the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre abruptly canceled speaking engagements in California and Texas scheduled for this week and have been ordered to focus on finishing the much-anticipated report on the shooting that left 20 first-graders and six women dead.
Three state police officials were scheduled to be keynote speakers at conferences at Disneyland in Anaheim and in Dallas on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, but canceled both appearances. A Newtown officer will be speaking in Dallas about the department's initial response to the school shooting.
Two weeks ago, The Courant reported that state police and Newtown police were traveling throughout the country to discuss details of the shooting response at conferences from Maine to Las Vegas while releasing little information publicly in Connecticut.
At that time, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky defended the travel, saying that police were not discussing details of the investigation and that the traveling was not slowing down the probe.
Since that story appeared, Malloy's chief of staff, Mark Ojakian, met with state police officials and told them "to be more deliberative" in choosing whether to attend any of the conferences to discuss the Sandy Hook investigation.
After that meeting, state police officials not only canceled appearances at the two conferences, but also took the unusual step of freeing up the Western District Crime Squad to work solely on the Sandy Hook shooting report. That crime squad is in charge of the police investigation into the massacre.
The state police's two other crime squads will split duties in handling any new criminal cases that might come up in the next few weeks in the Western District, sources said.
Sedensky had originally said that he hoped the report could be done by the end of June. He has since said it will be completed by the fall.
Lt. David Delvecchia, who heads the Western District Crime Squad, and Lt. William Baldwin, head of the Central District Crime Squad, were scheduled to speak at the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals' annual conference at Disneyland on Wednesday.
The appearance was billed as one of the key events of the three-day conference. Their topic was to be "Active Shooters: Lessons from Sandy Hook and Beyond." The synopsis promised that they would offer a "review of the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School to help law enforcement and schools prepare for catastrophic acts of violence."
The third speaker, FBI profiler Andre Simon, who sources said has been working with state police to build a profile of shooter Adam Lanza, is still scheduled to speak at the Disneyland conference. Lanza shot his mother before arriving at the school, where he killed himself.
Delvecchia and Sgt. Joshua Pattberg were originally listed as keynote speakers on Thursday at a conference in Dallas sponsored by the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center.
Their topic was supposed to be "Lessons Learned from the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting." On the advocacy center's Web page, the group's CEO writes: "We will again take you behind the scenes of many notable cases, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which details what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, on the day 20 children and six adults were murdered by Adam Lanza."
Organizers of the two conferences did not return calls Tuesday regarding the cancellations.
Although the state police officers are no longer speaking at the Dallas conference, Newtown police will be featured.
Newtown Sgt. David Kullgren will be talking about the lessons learned from the school shooting. Kullgren's talk is titled, "Responding to the Active Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School," and is supposed to educate fellow law enforcement officials on lessons learned about the initial law enforcement response.
Sedensky said he considers the Newtown officers witnesses and not part of the investigative team, so they are not under any limitations as far as speaking at conferences.
In March, Sedensky, who will issue the final investigative report on the shooting, ordered police to stop discussing details of the investigation at conferences. The ban was instituted after the New York Daily News reported that state police Col. Danny Stebbins told New Orleans conference attendees that Lanza had created a spreadsheet of mass killings going back 30 years.
"To prevent such disclosure in the future, I have instructed that any and all such presentations involving evidence in the criminal investigation be ceased while the investigation is pending and my report is still outstanding," Sedensky said at the time.
Sedensky had said that state police have showed him their conference presentations in advance and that he has no issue with them speaking throughout the country.
Copyright 2013 - The Hartford Courant
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