James Lewis takes over as head of NHPD

There’s a new chief in town.

James Lewis, the former chief of four departments in Wisconsin and California, took the helm of the New Haven Police Department in July. And, just a week ago, the city ushered in the first of three new assistant chiefs. Coupled with several high-profile arrests this summer, new leadership at the NHPD has signaled progress toward an outside consultant’s recommendations for the department, issued last November.

“Eighteen months from now you will see improved policies and procedures in place,” Lewis said at his swearing in, according to the New Haven Independent. “The majority of the PERF report will be completed or in process,” he said in reference to the list of recommendations given to the department by the Police Executive Research Forum in the wake of a corruption scandal — resulting in the arrest and convictions of the leader and two members of the narcotics enforcement unit — starting in March 2007.

Lewis did not wait long to enact changes in the department.

He unveiled what he called an “aggressive” approach to policing. In the last two weeks, for example, the NHPD arrested 20 people as a part of its recently launched prostitution deterrence program.

Lewis is filling out the remainder of former chief Francisco Ortiz’s contract, a contract that the city’s initial choice, Chatham, Mass., Police Chief Mark Pawlina, turned down because of lack of job security. When Ortiz’s contract expires in about 16 months, the chief’s position will be up for grabs again.

As recently as last Friday, Roy Brown was sworn in an as the city’s new assistant chief. Lewis recommended that Mayor John DeStefano Jr. appoint Brown — who was the former chief of the Claremont, Calif., police while Lewis was chief in neighboring Pomona — to the job.

The PERF report calls for the NHPD to have four assistant chiefs. Prior to Brown’s swearing in, there was just one: Stephanie Redding, who returned to her position following her approximately three-month-long role as interim chief.

Following Lewis’ appointment, the department promoted 22 officers to previously vacant higher posts. Three sergeants were made lieutenants, 12 officers and detectives were promoted to sergeant and seven officers were made detectives.

Ortiz announced his retirement in late March and stepped down April 12. He now manages public security for the University’s West Campus, which the University acquired from the Bayer Healthcare last September.

Comments