NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A New Haven Superior Court judge has ordered New Haven’s acting police chief to vacate the position according to the city charter.
The city will appeal the ruling in the case of Boise Kimber, et al. v. Renee Dominquez, and Renee Dominguez will continue to lead the New Haven Police Department during the appeal process, Mayor Justin Elicker announced at a press conference Monday afternoon.
The above video is from an previous newscast.
In January, New Haven clergy members filed a lawsuit against the city and its leadership over how it handled the search for a new police chief. Clergy members claimed the city violated its charter by allowing Dominguez to remain in her position as acting police chief even after the Board of Alders rejected her nomination to become permanent chief.
“While the mayor has the authority to nominate an individual to be police chief, the Board of Alders eventually has to approve the individual if she is to serve as the permanent office holder of that office,’’ Superior Court Judge Michael P. Kamp wrote in his decision filed Monday.
The city’s attorneys, however, said the charter does allow department heads to stay in their positions until a new one is appointed.
Elicker said Monday that the city is continuing its nationwide search for a new police chief with the application period closing in May, but until then, Dominguez will stay.
“I think it’s easy to stand on the sidelines and submit lawsuits and do press conferences and criticize and disrupt,” Elicker said. “As mayor of the city, my responsibility is to keep this city safe.”
Elicker said it would be too chaotic if they were to appoint another interim chief.
“We want a new police chief and we are working hard to do so,” the mayor said. “Let’s focus on the task at hand and not disrupt things and try to create chaos. We need stability right now as we try to find somebody new for the job.”
The superior court judge ordered Dominguez to vacate the position, stating, “For all the foregoing reasons, the defendant has failed to meet her burden to establish that she is entitled to hold her current office as the New Haven chief of police.”
In his decision, Kamp also stated, “Although the defendant was rejected by the Board of Alders on December 6, 2021, she has continued in office for nearly five months without any definite end date in sight. Such a course of events is simply not authorized by the current New Haven charter.”
Rev. Boise Kimber issued the following statement to News 8 Monday night:
The mayor and Chief Dominguez must follow the city constitution, our charter, and the ruling by the judge. They had their day in court, and a fair opportunity to plead their case. Now is the time to adhere to the law.
I think we have seen enough of these leaders making themselves kings and queens and interpreting the law as they want to see it. We have seen how twisting and bending the law leads to chaos and lawlessness. January 6 should have taught us valuable lessons about upholding the law, and as democrats in a blue state we should not mirror the kind of behavior we have seen on the national level.
Uphold and follow the law. The chief needs to vacate the position and the mayor needs to appoint an interim as quickly and as efficiently as possible.Rev. Boise Kimber
Hon. Tyisha Walker-Myers, the president of the New Haven Board of Alders, also issued a statement regarding the judge’s ruling:
Today’s decision in Boise Kimber, et al. v. Renee Dominquez regarding the interpretation of the charter language is clear. The authority to approve or deny a police chief sits solely with the Board of Alders. The city should respect the decision of the judge and name an interim chief or submit a name for consideration as chief. Again, the City Charter is clear about the powers of city officials and should be followed and respected.Hon. Tyisha Walker-Myers – President, New Haven Board of Alders