City approves contract with New London police chief

New London police chief candidate Peter Reichard answers a question during a public interview on Nov. 9, 2017, at Science and Technology Magnet High School in New London. He was selected for the job and the City Council approved a contract with him on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
New London police chief candidate Peter Reichard answers a question during a public interview on Nov. 9, 2017, at Science and Technology Magnet High School in New London. He was selected for the job and the City Council approved a contract with him on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

New London — The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a contract with new police Chief Peter Reichard, the first contract in recent memory with a New London police chief with a specified termination date.

The four-year contract calls for Reichard, a retired assistant police chief from the New Haven Police Department who was named New London’s deputy police chief in 2012, to be paid a $124,500 base salary for the first year, retroactive to July 12, 2017. The contract runs through June 30, 2021, unless extended.

Reichard agrees to live in the city as part of the agreement, is subject to yearly performance reviews by the mayor and will have 24-hour use of a city vehicle, among other terms of the contract.

Councilor Michael Tranchida said one part of the contract he took note of is the lack of any compensation time offered, something that had come up during the administration of former Chief Margaret Ackley. Ackley retired in January and Reichard has been acting chief since that time.

Ackley has a pending breach of contract lawsuit against the city for what she has claimed was the failure of the city to abide by terms of an agreement signed by former Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio. Compensation time was part of a contract offered to her but that never was approved by the City Council at the time.

Reichard’s contract also includes a section called “just cause for termination,” which includes a provision that allows the city to terminate his employment at the end of the contract.

Tranchida said both prior chiefs rose up through the ranks and had what he recalls as open-ended and more informal contracts with no termination date.

Overall, Tranchida said he was pleased with Mayor Michael Passero's choice.

Reichard has “been doing a very good job. The rank and file like him. There seems to be very few labor problems after he took over and seems like he’s running a very smooth operation. I’m pleased with the results,” Tranchida said.

Reichard’s salary appears to be in line with the those of other area chiefs. Groton Town Police Chief Louis J. Fusaro Jr. makes $120,000, Norwich Police Chief Patrick Daley earns $119,886 and East Lyme Police Chief Michael Finkelstein earns $100,000.

Efrain Dominguez, the council’s Public Safety Committee chairman, said he has been most impressed with Reichard’s focus on community policing, especially his outreach efforts into the local schools and at community events.

“What I like about him is he is involved in the community,” Dominguez said. “He is reaching out to the younger generation. This is important.”

Dominguez said that while he recognizes the city does not yet have the funding in place to support body cameras at the department, he is encouraged by Reichard’s commitment to bringing them in eventually and increasing staffing levels when funding allows.

Passero said that Reichard’s selection, after review of 14 applicants, was made after casting a wide net and thorough vetting process that included input from stakeholders and the community.

“He wasn’t just appointed. He proved he was the best person for the job,” Passero said.

g.smith@theday.com

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