NHPD faces upheaval

New Haven Assistant Police Chief Peter Reichard was relieved of his duties last Friday because of a series of complaints raised both by a detective and a newspaper reporter about his management style and conduct.

On Friday, New Haven Police Department Chief James Lewis confronted Reichard about the complaints filed against him and, after a heated discussion, suspended him, said three NHPD detectives who requested anonymity to speak freely about their superior. Reichard was escorted out of the building and forced to hand over his gun and badge. An internal investigation is currently underway, looking into Reichard’s behavior leading up to Lewis’s decision.

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Reichard’s dismissal comes at a time of significant upheaval in the administration of the police department. Both Lewis and Assistant Chief Kenneth Gillespie announced Thursday that they will leave at the end of February. Assistant Chief Roy Brown’s last day was Friday. After this chain of departures from the NHPD, only one assistant chief will remain in place by the end of February: Stephanie Redding, who heads the NHPD’s administrative division. If Mayor John DeStefano Jr. cannot find a replacement for Lewis in time for his departure, an acting chief will be appointed, city officials said over the weekend.

Board of Police Commissioners Chairman Richard Epstein said Sunday that he could not predict who will replace the those administrators. Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield also said that though Reichard’s suspension comes at an inopportune time for the NHPD, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. will implement an acting chief to help facilitate the transition.

“I was hoping there could be a transition from the old chief to the new chief right away,” Goldfield said. “Clearly that’s not going to happen.”

In an interview Sunday, City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga did not deny that the mayor would implement an acting chief, adding that such an appointment would depend on whether he makes a hire in time for Lewis’ departure.

Though there have been several complaints filed against Reichard during his tenure at the NHPD, the three detectives said, they cited one incident last September as the most egregious example of his misconduct. When New Haven Police Det. Matthew Prinz showed up to work wearing a white suit with white shoes, Reichard became angry. The detectives said Reichard threatened Prinz and told him never to wear such an outfit again. New Haven Register reporter William Kaempffer published an article on the tussle, further angering Reichard, who recently threatened to arrest Kaempffer in an e-mail.

Because Reichard, a 22-year veteran of the force, was not a member of the New Haven Police Union, his future role in the NHPD will be determined by DeStefano. City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said over the weekend that DeStefano will take “appropriate action” after the NHPD completes its investigation on Reichard’s alleged misconduct.

“The mayor feels strongly that this is a serious issue,” she said.

Just two years ago, the police department faced another scandal when former Lt. Billy White, in charge of the narcotics division, was sentenced to 38 months in federal prison last April. White admitted to stealing money that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had planted at crime scenes.

Goldfield said there are no allegations of corruption against Reichard. Reichard was promoted to assistant chief in 2008, leading the NHPD’s investigative services division, which is responsible for overseeing major crimes, special investigations and narcotics.

Reichard could not be reached for comment.

Esther Zuckerman contributed reporting.

Comments

  • oswald63

    Odd, and at the same time Francisco Ortiz replaced the previous director of Yale security, and security laid off all those other supervisors out of the blue! Now they’re going to replace them them with other newly hired supervisors. Conspiracy theorists unite!