Debate heats up over New Haven’s police chief nomination

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The debate over who should be New Haven’s police chief is heating up.

On Wednesday, clergy members and community activists called for there to be a national search to find the next leader of the department.

“This police department does not look like this community,” said Rev. Dr. Boise Kimber of the First Calvary Baptist Church in New Haven.

Kimber said he believes Acting Chief Renee Dominguez isn’t right for the job, citing concerns over diversity.

“How can we, at this present time, not have Blacks in leadership in the police department?” questioned Rev. Dr. Kimber.

They applauded the Board of Alders for rejecting the nomination this week and they’re hoping New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker will hear their pleas for change.

“We need a chief that’s a chief for the police and a chief for us,” said Rodney Williams, a community activist in New Haven. “I don’t feel like that’s who she is.”

The other points they raised include lack of engagement with the community and vision for the department long-term. Dominguez told News 8 she does have a vision for the department and shares those same goals.

“If it’s not seen as that, then I just need to do more work and have more conversations and it needs to be done in a different way,” Dominguez said.

Right now, diversity within the department sits at 49% and they’re working to get that number up.

“We have the most diverse police department. That’s the first point,” Elicker said. “Second, we’re bringing in an incredibly diverse group of people who are in the starting ranks.”

Elicker said he stands behind his nomination, saying he has witnessed firsthand the work Dominguez has done to keep the community safe and make the department better.

“Chief Dominguez inherited these challenges and she has committed to the community that she will increase diversity in the police department,” Elicker said.

Elicker plans to resubmit Dominguez and the Board of Alders will once again get to vote on this nomination. During that time, they plan to work with the board and community members to address the concerns they have.

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