It was a final farewell for Waterbury Police Chief Vernon Riddick.
“He’s a great man to work for…Democratic…Can always come to him with any issues,” stated Deputy Chief Fernando Spagnolo.
His officers gave him a new watch, and under his watch, the department earned praise for connecting with the community.
“Reached out to the community, was very visible in the community, demanded accountability from the department and respected the public views of the community right, wrong or indifferent,” said former Waterbury Rep. and Waterbury Director of Recreation Victor Cuevas.
Like at a forum in August to answer complaints about police response time.
“Our policemen and women, I think, are fantastic,” said one resident at the forum. “It’s the leadership I think needs a little tweaking.”
“People will judge, but I believe I did a pretty good job,” Chief Riddick said. “I always kept the citizens first. I always tried to do the right thing for the right reason.”
“I love this city. I’m going to miss it,” he added.
He said his deep religious beliefs helped to guide him to accomplishments he’s proud of.
“Bringing the community together, even further than it was before, I think, really was a great asset and leading our officers through some very tumultuous times for law enforcement is a good thing,” Chief Riddick said.
The chief leaves a city that recently saw an uptick in violence, gangs and stolen cars.
He said he and the mayor took solid steps to address those concerns.
“We have our gangs task force that’s been put back into place. We’ve built up our Street Crimes Unit so crime is on a down swing,” Chief Riddick stated. “We actually ended last year with a 5 percent reduction in our Part One crimes so I’m pleased with that.”
Chief Riddick made history becoming the city’s first African-American police chief.
“A lot of people helped me along the way. I worked very hard,” he added.
As he steps away, Deputy Chief Spagnolo will become the interim chief.
Chief Riddick leaves five full years into the job and more than 24 years with the department.
When asked how he wanted to be remembered, he said, “That I attempted to work and sacrifice myself for the betterment of others, leading with integrity.”