March 9th, 2010 | City, News

Illinois chief named New Haven’s top cop

Frank Limon, pictured at Tuesday's announcement at City Hall, comes to New Haven from River Forest, Ill., a town of 12,000.
Frank Limon, pictured at Tuesday's announcement at City Hall, comes to New Haven from River Forest, Ill., a town of 12,000. Photo by Daniel Carvalho.

Updated: March 10, 4:39 p.m. Frank Limon, a Chicago veteran and the current police chief of River Forest, Ill., will be the new chief of the New Haven Police Department, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. announced Tuesday.

Limon takes over a department in transition, having recently lost four of its top five officials. While the city marked its safest year on record in 2009 (with a 10 percent drop in crime from the year before), it also faces a recent spate of high-profile murders, rising gang violence and an increasingly rowdy club scene.

Limon, who speaks fluent Spanish, said he would collaborate with NHPD officers, neighborhood leaders and Yale police to reduce gun violence and work with the community.

“I am very committed to the citizens of New Haven and will work with the men and women in the department to make this city a safer environment for our children,” he said.

As police chief, Limon will try to lower what DeStefano calls an “unacceptable” level of gun violence. The mayor said nearly all gun violence is linked to narcotics — something Limon worked to eliminate in Chicago.

“I was particularly attracted to his record of success in Chicago and his firm belief in the importance of partnering with the community to reduce crime and make our neighborhoods safer,” DeStefano said.

Limon will also aim to increase the strength of the Investigative Services Division — a goal that has been pushed for by DeStefano. Limon said he is looking at assistant chief candidates that have experience in investigative services and would help to improve the program.

Four assistant chiefs served under Limon’s predecessor, James Lewis, but City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said Limon has not yet chosen how many assistant chiefs to have. She said the decision will not be made in the next few days.

Lewis, who held the top cop job for 20 months before stepping down last month, helped to select Limon after weeks of vetting about 50 candidates and whittling them down to three finalists.

Lewis said in a recent interview that his successor should continue his aggressive community policing strategies that seek to eliminate sources of major crime in high-risk neighborhoods. Some community leaders criticized Lewis for straying too far from their view of community policing, in which police patrol the streets and build cordial relationships with the community.

Ward 13 Alderman Alex Rhodeen, chair of the public safety committee, said Limon came with strong recommendations from the Police Executive Research Forum, a non-profit consulting agency that specializes in identifying qualified police administrators. But Rhodeen added that results would ultimately determine Limon’s success.

“The results are the only thing that matters,” Rhodeen said. “At the end of the day what people really want is someone who is successful.”

At the press conference, Limon said the police department and community should work together to make the city safer. He added that he looks forward to meeting local residents and working with New Haven schools.

In River Forest, a town of 12,000, Limon reduced crime by putting more cops on the street while focusing on budget cuts elsewhere, managing to reduce crime and costs at the same time. He spent most of his 30-year career in the Chicago Police Department, at the end supervising more than 600 people as head of the anti-gang division.

Limon will be sworn in April 5, and his term will run through February 2014.

  • Branford resident

    Destefano is just rounding out his crooked administration by bringing in a chicago thug.

  • Fleeting opportunity

    …and a Spanish speaking thug at that. C’mon, give the guy a break. I’m not a DeStefano cheerleader but let the guy be sworn in first before you release the hounds of Branford. Welcome soon-to-be Chief Limon, and Godspeed.

  • Chicago guy in New Haven

    As a Chicago thug, I find Brandford resident’s comment offensive.

  • Elm City

    He was the police chief of a 31 man department in a village with 11,000 residents- including the 2 colleges within the village. How much experience do they think he has to even begin to manage New Haven’s crime problem? Let’s get the pool going on how long this one lasts having to work for Johnny. There must be a police chief from a medium size city like New Haven looking for a job somehwere.

  • no

    Affirmative action in action ! duh !!

  • FairHavenRes

    Actually, Elm City, Chief Limon “spent 30 years on the Chicago police force, where he supervised 600 people in the Organized Crime Department (OCD) before retiring in 2008.” He has only been police chief in River Forest, Illinois for the past year. It’s interesting how you left that little fact out of your criticism.
    [quote from New Haven Independent]

  • Oh nuh nuh no…

    To #5: Why do you assume this is affirmative action? Is it not possible to hire someone with a Hispanic last name without affirmative action? But let’s assume it was an affirmative action hire. So what? Affirmative action is the active recruitment of underrepresented individuals to apply for a position. Their is no supposition or assumption that someone is to be hired because of their race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, Vietnam War veteran status, age, or disability (all of which are targets of affirmative action). Note that 5 of the 7 categories also include individuals who would identify themselves as white.

    AA attempts to increase the eligibility pool of applicants by targeting those who historically been actively or passively excluded from recruitment efforts. If the New Haven police chief hiring process included an AA effort to encourage a more diverse applicant pool, then the mayor and the city should be applauded. Contrary to popular belief, AA mandates that the most qualified individual is to be hired. If that person is one of the individuals who was targeted by AA, then everyone benefits since someone who would probably not have applied was identified and allowed to prove themselves as the most worthy candidate. Untapped talent is fruit of efforts to have a diverse applicant pool. Duh!

  • Yale Elite

    What happened to hiring within. Ohh last time they did that that chief ended up being not so clean and wait a minute, doesn’t this guy work for Yale now???

  • Jay

    Well said Fair Haven Resident, people decide to comment without bringing all the facts to the table.

  • Elm City

    I’ll play your game Fair Haven Res. Why is he leaving after a year? In his few years in charge of the Organized Crime Task Force, he had one-just one major bust under his belt that didn’t require a state or federal task force to see it through. He informed the Village officials of his impending departure barely 12 hours before the New Haven media announced he was the new chief for our city. There’s also the trading of posts among police brass at the Chicago PD, including Limon, as they tried to combat corruption in the department. Strangely enough he retired shortly after. So, ask the New Haven Independent (a tiny little divison of Pravda) to check those little gems. Check the Chicago Tribune, and Illinois databases. It’s called research, perhaps Jay and you can head over to Blue State and do a little.

  • melvin8

    He won’t last a year, but who will be booted out of Yale to give him a spot?

  • chicken/egg

    # 4
    “New Haven’s crime problem.”

    It is a poverty problem, not a crime problem. It is an access to privilege problem, not a crime problem. It is an addiction to mind altering substances problem , not a crime problem.

    Crime is seen as the solution by those who have the problems.


  • Idiots

    Poverty and crime are linked, but not causal. Poverty does not force someone into crime – it merely increases the incentive for them to engage in lawless, harmful, and criminally deviant behavior.

  • Freud

    # 13

    I’ll buy that. Increases it by a lot if no super-ego has been developed by parents and religion by the age of five. We are living in a sea of humanity without super-egos, and wondering why people a lawless! Duh.


  • dre45

    “It is a poverty problem, not a crime problem. It is an access to privilege problem, not a crime problem. It is an addiction to mind altering substances problem , not a crime problem.”

    Typical Divinity School response. 40 years of tax payer largesse, public programs, social programs, and the like haven’t solved the “poverty” problem in New Haven it seems. Maybe PK should leave your front door open so the poor unfortunates have easier access to your privileged belongings. Much simpler than them having to face personal responsibility and moral challenges.

  • Ids and Egos run rampant

    You can’t be expected to know right from wrong if no super-ego has been inculcated into you by age five. We are awash in a generation of Ids and Egos run rampant.

    The entire Freudian architecture has been abandoned , so no one even knows or cares what I’m talking about any more, but are nonetheless paying the price for its abandonment.

    The price is personal anarchy.

    (Not the wishful thinking of ‘personal responsibility.’)

    Good luck with the next 50 years.


  • Freudian Flip

    I’ll vote for no one cares what you’re rambling on about. Crime is crime, and the majority aren’t really concerned about the softsoaping of the reasons behind it. Keep the witch-doctor skills and runes for your own personal comfort zone.

  • Hardsoaping



    Talk to me after you raise children sans a conscience.

    Why do you think there have been three murders at Yale in the last 30 years?

  • Insulted Chicago native

    I notice that at his swearing-in the new Chief opined that “New Haven is just a smaller version of Chicago.”