Announcing her decision at City Hall on July 2, Mayor Toni Harp appointed Otoniel Reyes, a 20-year New Haven Police Department veteran, from interim to permanent NHPD Chief.
“As much as we’ve done to earn the trust and respect of this community, there is a lot of work to be done,” Reyes said at the City Hall announcement. “That’s probably my greatest responsibility … But I can’t do that alone. So I appeal to every person in this room … every community leader, every community member, join us in bringing this community together. Join us in making this department a great department every single day.”
On March 22, Reyes, then an NHPD assistant chief, was named interim chief after his predecessor, Anthony Campbell ’95 DIV ‘09, announced his retirement in early February. Campbell has since taken a job with the Yale Police Department as an assistant chief.
Following the July 2 announcement, Reyes could not be reached for comment.
Harp said that she was “eager to introduce” Reyes as the next chief of police “for his experience in every aspect of police work, for his commitment to community-based policing, and for his willingness to make accountability a cornerstone for the department.”
“There is no question but that Chief Reyes has impeccable credentials,” Harp said at the announcement. “Beyond that what appeals to me about Chief Reyes’ experience is what he knows about how to coexist and communicate with people in all of our communities. He connects to people as a cop on the beat, he wins confidence of witnesses as a detective … Over time he has come to command respect and authority throughout the community, and the department and this region.”
At the announcement, Reyes noted that the NHPD faces challenges specific to law enforcement in the Elm City, citing understaffing and an expired union contract as two such issues. He assured the crowd that he will “get down to the business of working” on these challenges.
After naming her nomination for chief, Harp asked the Board of Alders “for their favorable consideration” for Reyes. The Alders, who were represented at the press conference by Ward 5 Alder Dave Reyes, Jr. and Ward 12 Alder Gerald Antunes, will need to approve Harp’s nomination. At the announcement, Harp also acknowledged the work of the Police Search Committee, who “evaluated and rated an extremely talented pool of candidates.”
New Haven City Hall Spokesman Laurence Grotheer told the News that the Board of Alders confirmation process will likely take “a couple months” since the Board does not meet as often during this time of year.
“The Board of Alders will go through a full confirmation process, beginning with formal receipt of the mayor’s appointment, referral to a subcommittee, a public hearing by that committee at which Chief Reyes will also appear, a vote by that committee, and then a vote by the full board,” he said.
Reyes began at the New Haven Police Department in 2000 as a patrol officer in 2000. In the Department, 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 then moved on to become a lieutenant before service as assistant chief of police patrol divisions from March 2016 until three months ago when he was promoted to Interim Chief of Police.
Born and raised in New Haven, Reyes 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.
Barbara Fair, a New Haven resident and activist, worked with Rev. Kimber and Paster John Lewis to host a community forum on June 13 in the First Calvary Baptist Church in New Haven about the police chief decision. At the forum, New Haven community members had the chance to hear from the candidates, as well as ask further questions.
“I did so because it was a last minute attempt to include the community voice in the mayor’s decision seeing they are always boasting “community policing” which in my mind means the community and police work together on anything involving policing,” Fair told the News.
The New Haven Police Department was founded in 1861.
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