Effective Tuesday morning, New Haven Police Department Chief Dean Esserman will go on a temporary leave of absence following conduct termed “unbecoming [of] a public official,” according to a press release from Mayor Toni Harp’s office.
Harp announced the leave of absence on Monday afternoon after meeting with Esserman earlier that day. In the release, Harp said she conducted an investigation into recent reports of conduct.
According to the New Haven Independent, Harp was referring to a Friday night incident at Archie Moore’s Bar and Restaurant in which Esserman “allegedly berated the wait staff and caused diners to move away.” A member of New Haven’s Board of Alders came to Harp with the complaint, the Independent reported.
The leave of absence comes just over two weeks after the New Haven police union voted 170–42 against Esserman in a no-confidence vote, in light of multiple concerns in the department with Esserman’s leadership.
“In New Haven, the mayor is the appointing authority for the police chief, and the chief, like other administration officials, is subject to a performance evaluation each year and serves at the pleasure of the mayor,” Harp said in a press release, following the results of the no-confidence vote.
She previously spoke against Esserman in 2014, when the police chief was accused of verbally harassing an usher during a Yale home football game.
Harp wrote a letter to Esserman in response to the 2014 complaint, which was filed by an assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health. In the letter, she noted that Esserman needed to “behave in a manner that dignifies the office,” which she said would only be possible if Esserman “take this letter seriously and ensure that the actions of Sept. 27th are never again repeated.”