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New London — The mayor appointed a former assistant police chief from New Haven as deputy chief Monday, completing a restructuring of the police department that began in January.
Peter Reichard, who retired from the New Haven department in 2010 after a 22-year career there, was most recently vice president of corporate protective services at Bank of America. He gave his notice Friday to Bank of America, but it was not clear when he would start his job in New London.
Finizio said Reichard came "highly recommended" from the City of New Haven and was the top choice of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, which reviewed 29 applicants for the New London job and chose six for oral exams.
"I'm thoroughly convinced he is the right person for the job,'' Finizio said. "He will bring honor and integrity to the department."
But Reichard also brings some controversy.
According to press reports, Reichard was asked "to turn in his gun, badge, and keys" when he left New Haven in 2010 after questions arose about his managerial style and standards. He allegedly threatened a detective after taking issue with his work attire, which included a pair of white shoes, the New Haven Register reported.
He also allegedly threatened to arrest a reporter who wrote the story.
At Monday's press conference, Reichard said New Haven conducted an investigation into the allegations and "there were no findings." He acknowledged he had had an email exchange with the reporter but said he never threatened an arrest.
He said Monday he handed over his badge and gun on a Friday and the following Monday signed his retirement papers. He and Finizio both said it is standard procedure to hand in the items when an officer retires.
Reichard will replace former Deputy Chief Marshall Segar, whose annual contract with the city was not renewed in January. Segar was with the department for 20 years and was let go in a managerial shake-up that included the retirement of two long-serving police captains.
Finizio said a member of the department will be promoted to captain.
'Government by ambush'
Reichard's appointment may hit a snag with the City Council, which is in the midst of reviewing the proposed 2012-13 budget and has not decided whether it will fund the deputy chief's position.
Finizio said he was confident he could work with the council to find money in the budget to support the position. He added that he has been saying since January that the position was essential and would be filled and has not been told otherwise by any councilor.
But council President Michael Passero, who was told of the appointment Monday morning, called the announcement "another government by ambush." He criticized the mayor for making the announcement on the eve of the council's budget meeting, scheduled for tonight.
"I'm disappointed because we're in the middle of working out next year's budget,'' Passero said.
"We do not know on April 23 whether there is going to be money in fiscal year 2013 for that position, and he's hiring someone? Why wouldn't he wait one week? It makes no sense at all,'' Passero said. "It would have been prudent to wait and see if we can actually afford it next year."
Questions about managerial style
The New Haven detective who said Reichard threatened him filed a complaint with the New Haven Human Resources Department and accused Reichard of threatening to "break the detective's legs below the knees, or words to that effect, if he ever wore them (the white shoes) again,'' the Register reported.
Reichard also threatened to arrest the reporter who wrote the story if the reporter ever contacted him again, the Register reported.
At the time, New Haven police Chief James Lewis said the threat to the reporter "was certainly a piece" of what factored into his decision to take away Reichard's badge and gun. But there was a larger pattern of concerns, the Register reported.
Reichard handed in his retirement papers in February 2010.
According to Reichard's online résumé, he was hired by the New Haven department in 1988. He served eight years as a police officer, worked four years as a sergeant and was promoted to lieutenant in 2000. He was assistant chief for two years.
During his career, Reichard was in charge of a special unit — including 28 officers and two sergeants — that used crime analysis and mapping to deploy officers and develop strategies for reducing crime. Under his direction, the unit arrested three murder suspects and made more than 1,000 criminal arrests and more than 5,000 motor-vehicle arrests, according to his résumé.
In 2010, Reichard earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Charter Oak State College, Connecticut's public online college.