On March 22, Mayor Toni Harp officially named Assistant Chief Otoniel Reyes as the interim chief of the New Haven Police Department. With the change, effective immediately, Reyes has replaced Anthony Campbell ’95 DIV ’09, who announced his retirement last month.

“I am confident that the appointment of Mr. Reyes as Interim Chief will provide a seamless transition to the NHPD as we continue to reduce crime rates across the board and work with city residents to continue to grow our community-based policing,” Harp said in a press release last week.

On the day of the announcement, friends, family and fellow officers held a farewell party for Campbell on the third floor of the New Haven Police Department Headquarters, where several attendees — including NHPD Assistant Chief Racheal Cain, New Haven Fire Department Chief John Alston Jr. and former NHPD spokesman David Hartman — gave speeches to honor Campbell’s 21 years with the department.

“It’s fitting that we send the Chief off with some love” said Reyes in the first speech of the evening. He handed Campbell a plaque of appreciation from the entire NHPD.

At the event, Campbell said that he has “such great hope” for the future of the Department, mentioning that the officers were “in good hands” under Reyes.

“When you become the chief of a Department, there is no shortage of enemies. There is no shortage of people who want to tell you that they know how to do the job better than you can,” Reyes said. He then commended Campbell on his character despite these trials.

Reyes said that as assistant chief of police, he was able to see the way Campbell dealt with attacks from enemies “with grace,” and that Campbell was “always smiling, never wanting to be rancorous against anyone.”

Campbell announced on Feb. 1 that he would be retiring in March from the NHPD to begin working for the state’s attorney’s office as a state inspector in the Elm City.

Following Campbell’s announcement of retirement, Harp did not immediately announce that Reyes would become an interim chief in February. However, Mayoral Spokesman Laurence Grotheer told the News in February that Reyes’ position as assistant chief in charge of the patrol division makes him the chief successor in the Department’s “automatic line of succession.”

Reyes began working with the New Haven Police Department as a patrol officer in 2000, according to Reyes’ LinkedIn profile. Over the next few years, he worked as a Narcotics Enforcement Officer for six months, a Drug Enforcement Administration task force officer for a year, a detective for almost three years and a detective sergeant for both the Special Victims Unit and Major Crimes divisions for an accumulated six years. He became a lieutenant six years ago. Reyes served as the assistant chief of patrol divisions for the Department from 2016 until this month, when he was promoted to Interim Chief of Police.

“It’s such a weird feeling to have come into this building 21 years ago… and to have met people who were strangers who ultimately became my family,” Campbell said, addressing the officers at the NHPD headquarters.

Campbell served as New Haven chief of police for nearly two years. In this time, he strongly pushed the idea of “community policing” — which encourages close connections between cops and the people they serve. In the March 22 press release, Reyes said that he looks forward to “continuing the legacy of excellence in community policing that our department is known for around the country and the world.”

Campbell also managed the Department as it struggled with understaffing over the past year — nearly 100 of 495 budgeted New Haven Police Department officer positions remain vacant, leading to high overtime expenses for the city.

NHPD spokesman Anthony Duff could not be reached for comment on Monday.

“It is an act of love every day that you get up and put on a uniform, a badge and gun and you go out and serve a community — some of which don’t even want you to serve them,” Campbell said at the farewell event.

Reyes was born and raised in the Elm City. According to Reyes’ LinkedIn Profile, he graduated in 2011 from Albertus Magnus College with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and later received his masters of public administration at the University of New Haven.

Sammy Westfall | sammy.westfall@yale.edu