NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The Greater New Haven Clergy Association renewed its call for the acting New Haven police chief to step down following a judge’s ruling that her status as top cop violates the city charter.

The city has 20 days to appeal the ruling in the case of Boise Kimber, et al. v. Renee Dominguez. Acting Police Chief Renee Dominguez will continue to lead the New Haven Police Department during the appeal process, Mayor Justin Elicker said during a press conference Monday afternoon.

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.

Clergy members said it’s cut and dry, and the city has no ground to stand on. Rev. Dr. Boise Kimber with the First Cavalry Baptist Church said Dominguez’s time as the interim police chief is up.

“This is not personal,” Kimber said at Tuesday’s press conference. “There is no personal vendetta against Chief Dominguez, not even the mayor.”

Kimber, along with other clergy members and community activists, called for Dominguez to step down immediately, saying the city charter prohibits anyone from holding an “acting” role for more than six months.

“It is our belief that since Jan. 1, 2022, the administration has allowed the office of the chief of police to remain vacant, and that could be ended at any time that he [Mayor Justin Elicker] chooses to select a new nominee or assistant chief of police,” attorney Jerald Barber said. “The charter speaks for itself. Based on all the evidence before the court, there’s no valid claim that the charter for the city of New Haven is anything other than plain and ambiguous.”

During Monday’s press conference, Elicker said it would be too chaotic if they were to appoint another interim chief.

“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.”

“The argument we would be making is that, in our view, the trial court decision was very narrow and disregarded certain parts of the charter such as the provision in the charter that indicates that department heads shall stay in office until their replacement is found and qualified,” New Haven Corporation Counsel Patricia King said.

Elicker said the city is continuing its nationwide search for a new police chief with the application period closing in May, but until then, Dominguez will remain in the position. Ultimately, it’s up to the Board of Alders to approve and decide who that will be.