Eric Wang, Senior Photographer

Six female officers in the New Haven Police Department were promoted in March, coinciding with Women’s History Month.

Early this month, Renee Dominguez officially took on the role of acting chief at the NHPD. During a March 9 Board of Police Commissioners meeting, Evelise Ribeiro was elected chair of the commissioners. At the same meeting, four other female police officers were promoted to sergeant.

“It’s surreal and exciting and crazy to think that I am here, but here we are on International Women’s Day,” Dominguez told the News on March 8, reflecting on the new roles.

Dominguez said at the meeting that before this month’s promotions, only four women on the NHPD force had earned the rank of sergeant — compared to two dozen men. Now, there are eight female officers with the title.

On Jan. 5, Elicker’s office announced that NHPD Chief Otoniel Reyes will step down from his position this spring. Dominguez has now assumed Reyes’s responsibilities, but she will retain the title of acting NHPD interim chief until Reyes’ tenure officially ends in January 2022.

Dominguez has been a police officer since November 2000 when she worked with the Newtown police force. She joined the NHPD in October 2002, where she first worked as a watch beat in Newhallville. Dominguez continued to serve in Newhallville for 10 years, patrolling and working as sergeant and lieutenant. She then assumed the role of district manager in Westville and Fair Haven. In July 2019, she was promoted to assistant chief at the NHPD.

“It’s what I’ve always wanted, and I can’t believe that I’m here,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez told the News that she plans to closely follow Reyes’ agenda as chief, stating that she wanted “stability” in the department during the leadership transition. Future changes to the department, she said, will mainly come from restructuring the NHPD based on promotions. This restructuring will also entail the NHPD hiring more officers to fill vacancies left by promotions. 

One of the four women promoted to sergeant was Rosa Melendez, the first woman in NHPD history to be a certified bomb technician.

In the police commissioners meeting, Melendez said she has spent most of her time in the Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Scene Unit, where she learned to have “attention to detail and organizational skills.”

Police Commissioner Tracey Meares honored Melendez’s work overseeing the transition of police academy graduates at the meeting, stating that the role is “probably one of the most important jobs you can do … That job makes or breaks the future of the members of the force.”

The other three promoted sergeants were Lizmarie Almedina, Jasmine Sanders and Savannah Smith. 

Almedina was a school resource officer, where she made presentations to inform students about child pornography and sexual assault. Sanders worked in the Dwight and Hill neighborhoods for three years as a patrolling officer. She also served as a part of the high school and college recruitment teams of the NHPD. Smith served as a patrol officer in the neighborhoods of Dixwell and Newhallville.

Twenty-two percent of NHPD members are female, according to New Haven’s monthly financial report.

Talat Aman contributed reporting.

Razel Suansing | razel.suansing@yale.edu