Deputy chief's start waiting on background check, budget

Former New Haven Assistant Police Chief Peter Reichard takes questions Monday.
Former New Haven Assistant Police Chief Peter Reichard takes questions Monday. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

New London - Peter Reichard will start work as the deputy police chief May 21 pending a successful background and reference check and the inclusion of his salary of $100,500 in the city budget.

Reichard has not signed a contract with the city, and on Tuesday, the day after Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio announced the hiring, the City Council's Finance Committee voted not to fund the position next fiscal year. The issue will go before the full council Monday when it finalizes the city budget.

Regardless, said city personnel director Bernadette Welch on Wednesday, the city will begin its due diligence into Reichard's past. Once that is complete, she said, a contract can be signed.

One of 26 candidates for the deputy chief position, Reichard is a former assistant police chief in the New Haven police department.

He retired from New Haven in 2010 and, according to press reports, was asked "to turn in his gun, badge, and keys" when he left 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.

Reichard also allegedly threatened to arrest the reporter who wrote the story if the reporter ever contacted him again, the Register reported.

Finizio said Wednesday he knew of the reports and controversy before he offered Reichard the job on April 13. During an interview that day, Finizio said, Reichard "brought it up, and I was impressed with that fact."

Welch, who along with police Chief Margaret Ackley on April 10 interviewed Reichard, said "his explanation was perfectly rational and satisfactory."

On Monday afternoon, hours before he announced the appointment, Finizio said, he called the office of New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. to confirm that Reichard had retired from the department after Finizio saw "stuff popping up (on the Internet) saying (Reichard) was fired."

Robert Smuts, New Haven's chief administrative officer, confirmed for Finizio that Reichard had retired after the then-police chief "suggested it was time for him to retire."

Most recently, Reichard held a job as vice president of corporate protective services at Bank of America. He gave notice there Friday after being appointed deputy chief, a position that has been vacant since early January.

In an email, Welch said that of the 26 candidates for the position, 10 were from out of state, one was female, and "with regard to racial make-up," 22 were white, three were black and "one checked 'other.'"

Reichard was one of three candidates to earn an interview with city officials after he was "highly recommended" by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.

The association's Police Chief Selection Services Committee last month administered an oral exam to six candidates, committee chairman Douglas L. Dortenzio said Wednesday. Reichard was the highest-rated on the exam, he said, which poses questions about job skills.

"We encourage towns to be very careful on doing background exams because we can't find who is exactly the best fit," said Dortenzio, who is police chief in Wallingford. "We ask them to look at all the candidates and to do a value judgment on who would be the best candidate for their community."

s.goldstein@theday.com

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