New Haven Police Chief Melvin H. Wearing and Fire Chief Dennis W. Daniels will be reappointed to their posts this Friday, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. has announced. They will each receive four-year contracts.

Wearing joined the Police Department in 1968 and gradually rose through the ranks to become its first black chief of police in 1997. His tenure as chief has been defined largely by the national accolades that the department has received for its community policing efforts.

“The way the Police Department communicates with the residents has improved dramatically,” said DeStefano’s spokesman, James Foye.

But high-profile scandals have also left their mark on Wearing’s tenure as chief. The two top officials in the NHPD’s Investigative Services Division, Capt. Brian Sullivan and Sgt. Edward Kendall, retired in late 2000 rather than face internal ethics charges stemming from the investigation of the 1996 murder of North Haven resident Philip Cusick. Sullivan is facing criminal charges for allegedly keeping a witness statement in a desk drawer for almost two years without informing North Haven police.

Wearing has also endured criticism related to the Suzanne Jovin ’99 murder investigation, which remains unsolved three years after she was killed. New Haven police named James Van de Velde ’82 as a suspect in the investigation in early 1999, but have never charged him with the crime. Van de Velde filed a lawsuit against the NHPD in December alleging that police violated his civil rights in naming him a suspect.

Daniels, a life-long New Haven resident, was hired in 1975 shortly after a group of minority firefighters filed a discrimination lawsuit against the department, alleging that the city’s hiring and promoting practices were unfair. He became chief in 1998.

“Chief Daniels is really really good at developing the programs that are the future of the Fire Department,” Foye said. “Both departments are going in the right direction.”

–Brian Ginsberg