NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The City of New Haven is searching for a new police chief and Mayor Justin Elicker called upon New Haven residents to sound off on the search at a town hall on Tuesday night.
Residents will have a chance to provide their input on the search and selection of the chief in a series of community engagement initiatives, according to New Haven officials.
When asked what qualities they are looking for in the next police chief, some neighbors said they want someone who knows the area well and has lived in the city a long time.
“For crime prevention and community connection, the youth, I feel like a local person has more knowledge that can supersede the educational background,” said Curtis Charles. “I think there’s a more positive impact with someone who is not only familiar with the area but the officers themselves.”
Some suggested the interim police chief, Renee Dominguez, should have another shot at the job.
In December, The Board of Alders rejected the mayor’s nomination of the current interim chief. The board wanted someone who is an expert in community policing and someone who would increase diversity in police leadership. Dominguez later withdrew her candidacy.
Neighbors also told the city what they want for the future of the police department. Some want the police chief and their department to be more accessible and visible to the community.
“I think about youth and how do we connect with young people, so having officers that are not only biking and walking but actually forging great relationships,” said Ronald Huggins.
Currently, the New Haven Police Department is down about 100 officers. Some neighbors are hoping the city can bring on more officers to help the next chief tackle crime head on.
“No matter who we pick as a chief, crime is not going to go away. We need a chief who is going to address it,” said Doug Bathea.
Residents have an opportunity to participate in a community survey to share their thoughts on the matter. The community survey will be available in both English and Spanish and may be submitted online, by mail or dropped off at City Hall by April 29.
Residents will have another opportunity to virtually attend a second town hall on April 20.
The deadline to apply for the New Haven police chief position is May 8.