Posted Tuesday 9:50 p.m. Although he announced his retirement just before Thanksgiving, New Haven Police Department Chief Francisco Ortiz Jr., did not begin 2008 quite as relaxed as he hoped.
Ortiz — who said he would leave his post to direct security at Yale’s new West Campus beginning Jan. 20 — will instead remain the head of the NHPD “until sometime in the spring,” while City Hall continues its nationwide search for the chief’s replacement, spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said in a Dec. 28 press release.
Assistant Police Chief Herman Badger will also enter retirement this month. His position may not be filled until the new chief is appointed, Mayorga said.
“With the departure of an assistant chief and the anticipated time needed to hire a new chief, I asked Chief Ortiz to remain in his position a few months longer to provide a continuum of command and control within the department,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said in the press release.
Ortiz said he hopes to spend more time with his family after retiring from the department and felt “confident” that the department will move forward without him.
Although Mayorga said the city hopes to find Ortiz’s replacement by late March or early April, University Deputy Undersecretary Martha Highsmith said she expects Ortiz to come to Yale by mid-March.
Until Ortiz takes his position at Yale West, University Security Director George Aylward will oversee Yale West security, Highsmith said.
The first Latino police chief in Conn., Ortiz said he would vacate the position on Jan. 18 in order to allow a new chief to execute a departmental reform recommended in a recent Police Executive Research Forum report. The PERF report, issued after a six-month review of the NHPD, followed a narcotics scandal that unfolded within the department beginning last spring and resulted in the firing of three NHPD officers, two of which have been sentenced to federal prison time.
The city’s mandate for the $130,000 127-page PERF report came after the federal arrests of then-head of NHPD narcotics unit Lt. William “Billy” White and narcotics Detective Justen Kasperzyk. Both would eventually plead guilty to various conspiracy and government-property theft charges in October. At an October hearing, Detective Jose Silva also pled guilty to a deprivation of individuals’ civil rights misdemeanor and was sentenced to 90 days in federal prison earlier this week.
Ortiz and Badger were never tied to any of the corruption claims that instigated the PERF review, but the chief has been under crossfire for his management of the department in March public hearings.
As Ortiz continues his position as police chief, he may consider enacting some changes as requested by the PERF report, Mayorga said. But no plans for moving forward with the PERF recommendations during his extended tenure have been set in stone.