NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The New Haven Board of Alders voted to reject the nomination of Interim Police Chief Renee Dominguez for police chief Monday night.
After the vote, the Board of Alders issued a statement to News 8, saying it was not a decision they took lightly.
“The public safety of our residents and the well-being of our officers are priorities for this Board of Alders and has been a pillar of its agenda for the last 10 years. That said, the timing and process of this proposed appointment required a thorough, detailed, and nuanced plan for the future of the department that was acceptable to the community and engendered trust. That did not happen nor did real community engagement. When we are confident that there is a real strategic plan that includes the recruitment of diverse employees training and advancement of officers to all levels in the department, action on improving closure rates, successful efforts toward decreasing homicides, and tackling the violence afflicting our city, then and only then can we move forward together.”New Haven Board of Alders Leadership
Following the vote, Dominguez, who has been with the New Haven Police Department for almost 20 years, said the asks they are requesting are attainable and things she is on board with.
“If it’s not seen as that, then I just need to do more work and to have more conversations and it needs to be done in a different way,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said diversity within the department sits at about 49% and they’re working to get that number up, including through some of their latest recruits.
President of the Greater New Haven Branch of the NAACP Dori Dumas said she hopes that’s the case.
“The concern is the police department does not reflect the city that it sits in. It needs to be more diverse, and we need balance. People are not happy that there’s no real solid plan on how they’re going to fix the situation,” Dumas said.
Dumas said she was not surprised by the vote.
“I think, once the Board of Alders and the community hears what is the real plan to make that right, to balance it, to change it, I think people will be more supportive,” Dumas said.
Paul Bass, editor of the New Haven Independent, has covered 10 chiefs over the last 40 years. He believes there will be a fight until the very end.
“We led the country in developing community policing strategies, building trust, solving problems at the core,” Bass said. “I think it’s a showdown. The showdown is going to continue.”
Mayor Justin Elicker issued a statement following the vote, saying in part:
“Tonight’s vote by the Board is not just disappointing, it’s disheartening to the women and men of the department that strap on a vest each night and head out to patrol our streets. Chief Dominguez has clearly proven herself as a capable leader of this department. She ably answered each question posed by the Alders and has worked to address specific concerns they raised. I will be re-submitting Chief Dominguez and urge the Alders to approve her appointment at that time.”
Dominguez has been acting chief in New Haven since June 2021. She oversees the entire New Haven Police Department, which includes 325 sworn officers and supervisors.
According to the Board of Alders, Monday’s vote was for the rest of 2021 through Jan. 31, 2022. The second vote will be within 30 days after Elicker submits the nomination and will cover from Feb. 1, 2022, to Jan. 31, 2026.