July 06 - 12, 2006
By ANDY HART, The Hartford News Staff Writer
In a move which surprised many city residents, Hartford Police Chief Patrick Harnett has resigned from his post effective July 13.
Mayor Eddie Perez lost no time in appointing a successor, naming Assistant Police Chief Daryl Roberts as Hartford’s top cop at the same Friday afternoon press conference at which it was announced that Harnett was resigning.
Harnett, who served with the New York City Police Department for over four decades, took over as chief in Hartford in 2004. He assumed his new position amid a cloud of controversy because many city residences had demanded that Assistant Chief Mark Pawlina, who was then serving as interim chief after the departure of Bruce Marquis, be taken on as permanent chief.
Although overall crime dropped by 12 percent in Harnett’s first full year as chief (2005), this year he has had to deal with a seemingly unstoppable wave of shootings in the city’s North End.
Although Harnett said he decided to resign because, “I’ve been sleeping in an empty bed for 21 months and it’s time to go home,” he added that, while he was was proud of his achievements as chief in Hartford, he also felt that, “One thing I wish I could have done more about was the serious crimes and shootings in the city’s North End.”
When asked if he had any advice for Roberts, Harnett said, “Don’t rest on your laurels. This job is always a challenge and I know Chief Roberts is up to that challenge.”
Unlike Harnett, Roberts is Hartford born and raised. He grew up in several Hartford neighborhoods and graduated from Bulkeley High School in 1977. Roberts joined the Hartford Police Department in 1982 and began a steady climb up the ranks. He has served as commander of every major division in the police department.
As the recent violent crime wave has primarily involved youths, Roberts’ experience with Hartford’s young people should be valuable in his new position. He served as supervisor of the HPD’s Youth Initiative Unit, coordinating all of the department’s youth programs, including the Police Athletic League, the DARE program and the Hartford Police Explorers and Cadet Programs. He also served as commander of the Juvenile Investigation Division.
For his actions in the field, Roberts was awarded the HPD’s highest honor, the “Chief’s Medal of Valor.” He has also won three Distinguished Service Medals, six Exemplary Service Medals and a Merit Award.
Perez said the appointment of Roberts, “is a continuation of the new direction in which we are steering the Hartford Police Department. Accountability, effective crime reduction through neighborhood policing and collaboration with the community are key values for the police in Hartford and Chief Roberts will uphold those values.”