New London down to three finalists in police chief search

New London — At least two of the three finalists for the open police chief’s position will make a public appearance next Thursday, when they are introduced during what the city is calling a “community interview.”

But the city has declined to release the names of the candidates ahead of the forum.

The forum will allow the candidates a public platform to discuss their backgrounds and answer questions about specific issues in New London. It will be held between 7 and 8:30 p.m. at the Science and Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut.

Questions will not be taken from the audience. Instead, New London Chief Administrative Officer Steve Fields is accepting questions and concerns from community members by email in advance of the forum. He said he is attempting to focus questions on policing, public safety and quality of life issues in the city.

Channel 3 news reporter Kevin Hogan will act as moderator and present the questions.

In explaining the reason behind not releasing the names of the candidates, Personnel Director Tina Collins said one of the candidates had not yet informed his or her employer and asked to remain anonymous until the forum. It would be awkward, she said, to release some but not all of the names at the same time.

Despite the secrecy surrounding the finalists, the city's acting police Chief Peter Reichard is expected to be among them. Reichard has expressed interest in the position, and Mayor Michael Passero, among others, has praised his work filling in as chief before and after the retirement of former Chief Margaret Ackley.

While the city initially announced three finalists would be appearing on Wednesday, Collins said the third has not yet confirmed.

Finalists come from a group of 14 people who applied for the position. The group was whittled down by a search committee composed of community members and police professionals, a diverse group that Fields said was an attempt to create a more open and inclusive process.

The selection committee included former New London police Chief Bruce Rinehart and former Groton City police Chief Thomas Davoren, who also served 27 years with the state police.

The NAACP, clergy, labor, education and business communities all were represented in the search committee, Fields said. The group included Hot Rod Café owner Rod Cornish, former City Councilor and state Rep. Wade Hyslop and local union leaders Greg Kotecki and Rich Baez.

The group reviewed cover letters and résumés, ruling out some and grading others, Fields said.

Passero will make a final decision based not only on résumés but also on an interview and answers to written questions submitted to the finalists.

Anyone who would like to submit questions for the Nov. 9 forum can email Fields at sfields@ci.new-london.ct.us.

 g.smith@theday.com

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