Mayor John DeStefano Jr. took personal responsibility Friday for recent problems in the New Haven Police Department during a press conference announcing new leadership for the NHPD’s Investigative Services Unit.
The new appointments follow the arrest of two Narcotics Enforcement Unit officers — Lt. Billy White and Detective Justen Kasperzyk — on Mar. 13, the result of a sting operation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. DeStefano said the appointments are not meant as a “shake-up,” though he said he and NHPD Chief Francisco Ortiz take responsibility for the problems in that since-disbanded unit. The NHPD’s Narcotics Enforcement Unit was a subdivision of the Investigative Services Unit.
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“We had a serious, serious problem occur in the Narcotics Enforcement Unit. Real serious,” DeStefano said at the NHPD’s headquarters Friday. “Personally, I take responsibility for that, as does the chief. Beyond that, everything is fair game to look at.”
Lt. Patrick Redding was appointed as head of the department’s ISU, or detective’s bureau, moving from his role as head of the Internal Values and Ethics Unit. Ortiz appointed Sgt. Lisa Dadio, previously the head of the NHPD’s Family Services Unit, as Redding’s second in command.
At the press conference, Ortiz said he wanted to emphasize that the changes are not due to any problems with ISU, which has been led by interim chief Sgt. Andrew Muro for eight months. He cited the unit’s high rate of solved cases as a sign of its success.
When asked if the decision to move Redding from internal affairs was a response to the division’s failure to detect White’s and Kasperzyk’s alleged crimes, DeStefano said federal authorities have assured them that there was no way for Redding or internal affairs to have detected the problem.
“This is not a big shake-up,” he said. “We made changes in leadership where there were vacancies.”
White, the former head of the narcotics unit, was arrested for bribery conspiracy and stealing government money last month. Kasperzyk was arrested on misdemeanor charges of stealing government money.
DeStefano and Ortiz also said that Chief Investigator Robert Lawlor of the State’s Attorney’s Office will work closely with Redding, spending 20 hours a week with him to work on prosecutions. DeStefano said the strengthened partnership was not specifically provoked by last month’s arrest of White and Kasperzyk, but rather an outgrowth of a closer relationship since last year’s spike in violent crime.
DeStefano and Ortiz said Redding and Dadio were appointed for their leadership experience in the NHPD.
“Together, they make a strong team that has good leadership experience,” DeStefano said. “The people who got here today, got here today because they earned it.”
Redding, a 21-year veteran of the force, had lead the internal affairs division since December 2000 after working in Juvenile Services. Dadio has worked at the NHPD since 1992, serving as a detective and sergeant in several divisions before being appointed to lead Family Services in August 2006.
Redding said he has dreamed of leading the detectives’ bureau ever since he joined the NHPD as a patrol officer.
“This is something I’ve always dreamed of,” he said. “I understand the severity of what the public thinks of our police department.”
Redding said his experience in the department has taught him the value of community policing. Ward 13 Alderman Alex Rhodeen said last week that the fact that the rising leaders in the NHPD have had most of their experience under community policing would distinguish them from White.
Ortiz said he and his assistant chiefs would spend the next week finding replacements to fill the positions being vacated by Redding and Dadio. The announcement of the replacements, as well as further changes in the NHPD, will be announced in the near future, Ortiz and DeStefano said.