Esserman to announce new assistant chiefs

New Haven Police Department Chief Dean Esserman will appoint a new leadership team today.

At a City Hall press conference with Mayor John DeStefano Jr. scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Esserman is expected to announce four new assistant chiefs: Lt. Thadeus Reddish, Lt. Luiz Casanova, Capt. Denise Blanchard and Archie Generoso, an inspector for the state’s attorney’s office, according to the New Haven Independent. The announcement comes almost two months after Esserman asked the department’s three then-assistant chiefs to resign or retire so that he could assemble his own management team.

“The police department has issued a strategic plan that outlines strategies for reducing violence through community policing, close partnerships between police and citizens, and by upholding to the highest standards for excellence and integrity,” City Hall spokeswoman Elizabeth Benton ’04 said in a press release previewing the announcement. “Monday’s announcement will address staffing and leadership decisions that will enable the police department to deliver on that vision.”

In selecting three internal candidates and a former district manager — Generoso oversaw the Dwight neighborhood in the early 1990s — Esserman is fulfilling his promise not to bring “anyone from New York or Providence” into the NHPD’s leadership.

Each of the three officers promoted to assistant chief from within the department already holds a position of authority within the NHPD. Casanova heads the patrol division, Reddish is district manager in the Newhallville policing district and Blanchard runs the police training academy.

All four candidates are expected to be cleared by the Board of Police Commissioners, which holds the ultimate authority in determining the NHPD’s leadership. Richard Epstein, the board’s chairman, has previously said he and his four colleagues on the board would give their full support to Esserman’s leadership picks.

When the four new assistant chiefs are sworn in, the Elm City will have seen 11 assistant chiefs in just three years. That high turnover in leadership prompted concern among city and police officials that candidates might be deterred from the assistant chief position if they have not yet served 20 years, the minimum amount of time to qualify for a pension. Assistant chiefs are not protected by the NHPD union’s contract.

Rob Smuts ’01, who oversees the NHPD as the city’s chief administrative officer, previously expressed confidence that job security concerns would not prevent the department from getting the most qualified people to fill the vacant assistant chief spots. But he also said the city would potentially make accommodations for well-qualified candidates who have not worked 20 years.

City officials worked with Casanova, who has served 16 years with the department, to ease his job security concerns, the New Haven Independent reported. Under their plan, which will need approval by the Board of Aldermen, assistant police or fire chiefs would be allowed to trade 30 days of sick time in exchange for an extra year of service toward a pension.

These accommodations were not necessary with the most recent slate of assistant chiefs. Last April, then-NHPD Chief Frank Limon appointed John Velleca, Patrick Redding and Petisia Adger to the department’s second-highest position, all of whom had served more than 20 years with the NHPD.

Redding announced his retirement in December, while Esserman asked Adger and Velleca to step aside Jan. 27.

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