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New Haven's acting police chief retires after judge’s order to step down

Danielle Wedderburn
WSHU Public Radio

Acting New Haven Police Chief Renee Dominguez announced her retirement this week amid controversy in the city’s police department.

Dominguez became acting chief last June and was on track to become the first woman to permanently lead the New Haven Police Department. The city’s Board of Alders rejected her nomination in December amid resident’s concerns about an increase in violent crime and low diversity in the department.

Mayor Justin Elicker, who nominated Dominguez, said she was the right person for the job, but a small number of individuals wanted to push politics. He said that caused the city to waste time.

“We have had to spend a lot of money, incredible amounts of time and energy. Frankly, I think this process has somewhat tarnished our name, when we had the right person right in front of our eyes, and I still think Chief Dominguez was the right person,” Elicker said.

Dominguez said there’s been a lot of criticism and negative media attention and the job as police chief has become more about politics and less about performance.

“I leave this place knowing that I have led the police department according to my values and my morals and I believe that the men and women that stand behind me, and with me, have supported me all the way through,” Dominguez said.

She said homicide rates have dropped by 73% this year and the officers will keep fighting to lower crime regardless of who is chief.

Last month, a judge ruled Dominguez had to step down since the city charter prohibits acting city officials from holding temporary jobs for more than six months.

Elicker named Regina Rush-Kittle, the city’s chief administrative officer, as the new interim police chief as the city continues to search for a permanent chief.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.