Limon departure rumors abound

Frank Limon cleared out his office before returning to Chicago for an extended break, sparking rumors of his departure.
Frank Limon cleared out his office before returning to Chicago for an extended break, sparking rumors of his departure. Photo by Joy Chen.

The Elm City might soon find itself without a police chief.

After rumors of New Haven Police Department Chief Frank Limon’s departure erupted over the weekend, City Hall spokesman Adam Joseph and NHPD spokesman David Hartman both stressed Limon remained in the department’s top spot, which he has occupied since arriving from Chicago in April 2010. But two sources, a mayoral candidate and a former police union president, said they have received reports that the chief’s office and New Haven condominium have been emptied out. Limon left Friday for “several weeks” to recuperate from sickness and attend a police conference in Illinois, Joseph said, but mayoral candidate Jeffrey Kerekes and former NHPD union president Sgt. Louis Cavaliere said they believe his departure is permanent.

Cavaliere and Kerekes said his departure would be the result of departmental mismanagement at a time when the city’s homicide rate is the highest since 1994.

“I heard from three officers [that Limon] was in his office shredding documents, packing up a bunch of stuff, before going to his condo and driving off,” Kerekes said. “When he left the office, he said he was not coming back.”

This report was contradicted by City Hall, where Joseph said Friday afternoon that the “chief is still the chief.” Similarly, Hartman said Sunday afternoon he has received no official announcement from the chief’s office, adding that rumors of Limon’s exit have been fueled by a speculative press.

Cavaliere said he thinks reports of Limon’s departure are “more than rumors.”

“Why would he be packing up everything from the chief’s office just to go away for three weeks?” Cavaliere said.

Rumors of Limon’s departure follow what Cavaliere called a “serious leadership problem.” Cavaliere, who retired as NHPD union president in May, but continues to serve in a consulting capacity, said Limon was out of touch with rank-and-file police officers and did not handle departmental resources effectively. These concerns were captured in the union’s Feb. 3 no-confidence vote against Limon, which passed in a landslide 246–21 referendum against the chief.

Rumors of the chief’s departure are playing out against a backdrop of what Limon called “unacceptably high” violent crime in New Haven. The city’s yearly murder count, which rose to 27 Thursday, is three higher than last year’s and the highest since 1994.

Limon could not be reached for comment Sunday evening. Hartman said Assistant Chief John Velleca will serve as acting NHPD chief during Limon’s absence.

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