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New Haven police chief unveils plan to address diversity in leadership

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As of the start of August, the department had 319 sworn officers out of 408 budgeted positions, 39 percent of them people of color and 17 percent of them women, Dominguez said.

Between 2010 and 2019, the department ranged between 45 percent and 47 percent people of color, then dropped to 41 percent in 2020, she said. It has been between 14 percent and 17 percent women throughout the period, she said.

There were three people of color among the 22 officers ranked lieutenant or higher, Dominguez said.

Based on the current eligibility lists, Dominguez said she was planning to recommend 10 additional officers for sergeant in the near future, two of whom are Hispanic men and one of whom is a Black man.

With anticipated retirements, she said she was planning to recommend two additional lieutenants, as well, one of whom is a Black woman and one a Hispanic woman. Another lieutenant could be in the offing, which would be a white man, she said.

“We have a plan to improve and do better in areas that we’re lacking. We’re never going to grow as a police department, we’re never going to change as a police department, if we can’t look within, see our deficiencies and begin to build a way to address them and move forward,” said Dominguez.

Among other future initiatives, Dominguez said the department also was hoping to procure a recruitment trailer, enhancing its ability to receive applications at community events; expand the PAL program to 18- to 21-year-old residents in 2022, offering them civilian jobs in the department with a path toward becoming an officer; offering additional FBI-LEEDA leadership training; creating new mentoring programs to ease the transition between ranks; potentially partnering with the University of New Haven for command training; and expanding recruitment efforts for officers of color.

In a time of diminished manpower and resources for the department, Dominguez said the added opportunities would challenge current officers, improving their experience.

Police Commissioner Tracey Meares thanked Dominguez for the presentation, noting the commission had raised concerns, and noted that recruiting officers of color would not make a difference immediately, as the civil service list system “basically calcifies the leadership” at a given moment in time, with everyone starting at the bottom.

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Dominguez said a new officer could test for sergeant after three years, a lieutenant position after six, and a captain’s role in eight. The department is planning to allow officers to steadily test in the future, instead of allowing gaps between promotional lists, she said.

Aldermanic candidate Shafiq Abdussabur, a retired NHPD lieutenant, resident Miguel Pittman and the Rev. Boise Kimber of the Greater New Haven Clergy Association urged the department to take the importance of diversity to heart and consider practical obstacles during the existing process.

The department needs to be more “culturally competent,” Abdussabur said. To be serious about its community policing ethos, it needs to be able to attract and hire residents of color from the city, he said.

“I’m very concerned about the hiring process at the New Haven PD, and what appears to be an issue about the hiring of African-American and Hispanic and Latino officers, particularly who are New Haven residents,” said Abdussabur. “(I)t is certainly an ongoing issue and a problem that New Haven has not been able to fix as a city.”

Kimber noted that Black residents make up approximately 30 percent of the city, but were not being represented in the leadership ranks.

“How (does) this department represent the community in which I live? I think we have to take a closer look at how we deal with promotions,” said Kimber.

Derek Werner, David Portela, Justin Marshall, Brian McDermott, Brendan Borer, Ryan Przybylski, Jason Weted, Michael Fumiatti and Dana Smith were promoted to lieutenant by the commission, while Christopher Alvarado, Steven Spofford, Michael Criscuolo, Eric Eisenhard and Donald White III were promoted to sergeant.

william.lambert@hearstmediact.com

This content was originally published here.

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