While he may not be the police chief in East Haven for a long time, Interim Chief Brent Larrabee is still trying to re-establish the processes and reputation of the East Haven Police Department (EHPD).
Larrabee helped further establish his community outreach efforts with a meeting with East Haven business owners on June 13, noting that a search would begin for a more permanent leader.
One day later, Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr., announced that a national search for a new chief is underway. According to a statement, Maturo said the search should last 22 weeks.
"This search represents another step forward for the Town of East Haven," said Maturo. "It is geared toward attracting and finding the best candidates possible and is going to be conducted nationwide. Most importantly, the search plan calls for local community input at all critical stages."
The search process will include "development of an updated job description, aggressive advertising, telephone and in-person interviews, a host of written and oral testing, and most importantly, heavy community involvement," explained Maturo.
According to Maturo, recommendations of the Department of Justice (DOJ) will be considered in the process. He noted that the DOJ "reviewed and approved the draft process in April."
Maturo said that the town will hold a Town Hall meeting at which residents can ask the finalist candidates questions.
The search is being conducted by Massachusetts-based Strategic Policy Partnership Consultant Services, which has conducted police chief searches in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Oakland, California; and Hartford.
"Our town and police department have made enormous strides forward in recent months," added Maturo. "We've hired certified, veteran officers from neighboring towns to fill our ranks, helping to protect our residents and saving the town thousands of dollars in training costs. We've undertaken review and revision of the department's policies, re-started important youth programs like DARE, and increased community outreach to businesses and residents. This search represents another positive step forward. I know that the transparency of the search and the level of community involvement contemplated will inspire confidence in both the search process and in the final candidate."
Building Relationships Today
Larrabee told town business leaders at the June 13 meeting that he hoped to meet on a regular basis if there was an interest in more frequent interaction.
Larrabee, reviewing crime statistics, said that the East Haven community is a safe one, with very little violent crime. He noted that there were 17,071 calls for service in 2011 and 6,959 so far this year. There were also 1,057 arrests in 2011 and 376 so far in 2012.
Among Larrabee's areas of focus are increased attention to dealing with domestic violence as well as strengthening the department's youth program. Community policing is another area in which Larrabee would like to develop.
In addition, Larrabee said he plans to get officers out of their vehicles and become more visible within the community.
Building a New Team
Regardless of whether Larrabee or another chief leads the EHPD, that individual will direct a force that continues to undergo a change in personnel.
The department recently accepted the retirements of four individuals and welcomed several new officers to the force. New hires include Eduardo Diaz, Thomas Herbert, James Naccarato, Robert Brockett, and Scott Carignan. Two recruits, Andew D'Addio and Kershen Bissette, will attend the police academy in July, according to Larrabee.
Larrabee said he is pleased that the staffing levels are increasing.
Getting the new hires "on the road immediately will help a great deal," he said. "It's taking the pressure off those who are constantly working."
Larrabee noted that more hires won't happen this summer. He said background checks are labor intensive and the department doesn't want to rush the hiring process.
Those who retired include Inspector Gaetano Nappi (who served as interim chief when former mayor April Capone suspended former chief Leonard Gallo in 2010), Detective Daniel Gilhuly, Capt. Henry Butler, and Sgt. Bruce Scobie.