Reichard long served as the New London police chief, now it's official

A page was turned Monday when the New London City Council approved a four-year contract that sealed the deal. Peter Reichard is officially the city’s police chief and will remain so for the foreseeable future. That’s good news for New London.

In practical terms, Reichard has served as the police chief for quite some time now. Hired as the deputy chief in 2012, he served as acting chief for long periods of time for the last several years during the long absences of his predecessor due to her health and, in one case, a political and legal tussle with the former mayor.

During these difficult periods, Reichard provided stability to the department. He has been acting chief for the past year following the retirement of former Chief Margaret Ackley, whose time in the position was dogged by controversy.

Reichard has embraced community policing, saying it is important for his police officers to form bonds with the people they serve. His relationship with the rank and file appears good and labor disputes have trended down since he assumed the chief’s position.

Mayor Michael Passero was right in conducting a broad search for the position, with 14 applicants applying. It should become a new model for his administration. Reichard was considered the favorite, and deservedly so, but the city could not know what other quality candidates it might attract until it looked.

One aspect of the process that, while well intentioned, did not make sense was a public forum to question finalists. Two finalists participated, Reichard and another applicant. Most applicants, we suspect, had existing jobs and would have been reluctant to become involved in such a public spectacle before securing the new job. There is also a question of what value the forum brought to the selection process.

It is a good to have a contract in place and reasonable to make it finite – a four-year deal that can be renegotiated and extended at any time. It contains no provision for compensation time for extra hours worked, which became a point of contention during Ackley’s service. Our take is that police chiefs should recognize the job will entail long hours and not expect added compensation.

Good also to see that Reichard will be residing in New London, as required by City Charter.

The next order of business should be to hire a deputy chief. The department needs one.

 

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.

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