East Haven Starts Search For New Police Chief

Jun 26, 2012

The town of East Haven has begun a nationwide search for a new police chief. 

Local volunteers have been asked to help, and on Tuesday the mayor drew names of applicants out of a hat. Twenty four people out of 30,000 East Haven residents entered the drawing to help in the search for a new police chief . 

Standing outside his office, Mayor Joe Maturo, Jr. selected ten names.  

"Number fourteen, Jeffrey Cofrancesco. Number seven, Glenda Gonzalez."

In addition to those picked at random, Maturo has recommended fifteen town residents to work with Massachusetts-based Strategic Policy Partnership in the search for the next chief. 

East Haven police were in the national spotlight this year, after four officers were arrested and charged with civil rights abuses against Latinos. The officers have pleaded not guilty.

Again, Mayor Maturo:

"Although the town charter says that the mayor can pick on his own, if I do that, the Department of Justice will not be happy because they’re going to say it's not transparent."

Former police chief Leonard Gallo retired in January after facing a barrage of criticism for his handling of the racial profiling allegations. In February, Maturo named an Interim Police Chief, but federal authorities notified the town’s attorney that they had serious concerns about the apparent lack of transparency in the process.

A D.O.J. investigation found a deeply rooted pattern of discriminatory policing against Latinos in East Haven, and federal officials said they hope to work collaboratively with the town to reform the police department. But if that proves impossible, they’ll take legal action.

Mayor Maturo says he’s trying to avoid that outcome.  

"It's very expensive if that happens. It could cost the town millions of dollars. Whether I agree with the Department of justice or not, they’re there."

The search for a new East Haven police chief is expected to take four to six months.   

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.