Courtesy of Len Speiller

At a press conference at City Hall last Monday, Mayor Justin Elicker announced two new appointments to directorial positions in the Public Safety Communications Department and the Department of Elderly Services.

Kevin Stratton, who has worked in law enforcement for the last 25 years, will take on the role of director of public safety communications. He will oversee New Haven’s 911 telecommunications center, coordinating crisis responses for the fire department, police department and emergency medical services. The new acting director of the Department of Elderly Services will be Tomi Veale, who currently works with the city on youth programming. Vale will oversee the city’s support services for elderly citizens, including the three senior centers that are soon to reopen for the first time since the pandemic’s start.

“New Haven residents will be well-served by these two experienced and dedicated public servants,” Elicker said in a March 21 press release. “While very different jobs, both roles often serve at-risk individuals and vulnerable populations and we need strong, experienced leaders like Kevin Stratton and Tomi Veale to help ensure New Haveners’ needs in these areas are responded to in an effective, efficient and thoughtful way.”

Prior to taking on this position, Stratton served for 23 years with the Connecticut State Police, eventually attaining the rank of master sergeant. He also spent two years as the chief of staff for the police department of Shelton, Conn. Stratton is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, where he worked in administrative and intelligence roles.

As an executive officer for State Police Troops, Stratton also oversaw the department’s emergency 911 dispatchers for Public Safety Answering Point locations across Connecticut.

“As a former EMT, I know first-hand that when there is a medical, fire or public safety emergency, every second counts,” Elicker said. “I’m grateful that an experienced public safety professional like Kevin Stratton will be at the helm of our 911 telecommunications center so that New Haveners’ emergency calls are received and responded to in a professional and timely manner.” 

Stratton told the News that he has been a resident of New Haven for the past 15 years, and is excited to have a chance to serve the community where he lives. 

He has been appointed by Elicker for a four-year contract, replacing the now-retired George Peet. 

Stratton said that his first step in the new position will be to speak with the team of fire, police and emergency medical dispatchers to hear their suggestions for how the city’s system can improve. 

“I’ve worked with dispatchers my whole career, and know how important they are and what a vital role they play in providing a public safety response,” Stratton said. “Community is our number one responsibility, to make sure that we gather the correct information when people call 911 or report an emergency and then dispatch that correctly out to the first responders.”

In her new role with the Department of Elderly Services, Veale will oversee all of New Haven’s programming for senior citizens. This includes enriching activities, education initiatives and the city’s three senior centers, as well as case management and referral systems for residents struggling with critical medical, financial, legal or housing difficulties.

In January, Elicker announced that he would not reappoint Migdalia Castro to the head position in the department. Veale told the News that she will be taking on the position indefinitely. 

“[I’m looking forward to] working with the community, working with the elderly population, hearing their voices,” Veale said. “Being able to connect with them and connect them to resources.”

New Haven’s senior centers — the East Shore, Atwater and Dixwell Senior Centers — have been closed during the pandemic, but are scheduled to reopen on April 4 for three days a week. Veale said that she is excited for New Haven’s elderly residents to be able to access these spaces again and sees it as a chance for increased engagement and support.

Veale was born and raised in New Haven, and has worked for the city for a number of years, serving as acting youth services director in 2013 before taking on the role of program coordinator for the Youth@Work summer employment initiative. She is an adjunct professor of sociology at Gateway Community College, and is on the board of directors for multiple New Haven nonprofits. 

“We want our senior citizens to live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives, and the Department of Elderly Services helps make that possible in the City of New Haven,” Elicker said. “I’m grateful that Tomi Veale is willing to lead the city’s efforts.” 

Kevin Stratton begins in his new role Monday, while Tomi Veale’s term with the Elderly Services Department will begin on April 11.

Sylvan Lebrun is a Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News. She previously served as City Editor, and covered City Hall and nonprofits and social services in the New Haven area. She is a junior in Pauli Murray College majoring in Comparative Literature.