Mayor Still Considering Interim Chief Rovella, Even Though He Didn't Apply
By JENNA CARLESSO
July 05, 2012
HARTFORD —— A seven-member panel has chosen three finalists to be the city's next police chief, but Interim Chief James Rovella is still heavily favored for the job.
The finalists of a national search were announced Thursday evening: Frank Straub, public safety director in Indianapolis, Ind.; William Heim, police chief in Reading, Pa.; and Irving Bradley Jr., a former Newark police chief who is now vice president for education safety and security with Bowles Corporate Services in Clifton, N.J.
Mayor Pedro Segarra is expected to announce the new chief early next week, said Jared Kupiec, his chief of staff.
The candidates were recruited by Strategic Policy Partnership, a Massachusetts-based search firm hired by the city in January for $50,000. The firm put together the selection panel, which included Robert Wasserman, chairman of Strategic Policy Partnership; John DeCarlo, a criminal justice professor at the University of New Haven and former Branford police chief; and city residents Hyacinth Yennie and Harry Hartie.
Absent from the short list is Rovella, the interim police chief who has been favored by the community and police department.
Kupiec said Thursday that although Rovella did not formally apply for the job, the mayor can still appoint him and is considering him for the position.
Under the city charter, the mayor may appoint a candidate of his choice, so long as the candidate is qualified. Among the qualifications is certification by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council, Kupiec said. Rovella took courses and was certified by the council in May, he said.
Rovella said Thursday that he did not formally apply for the job because he wanted to avoid any ethical dilemmas that could arise from serving as interim chief and being a candidate for the permanent position.
"How do I make an ethical decision and not think I'm favoring one person or getting somebody else upset?" he asked. "How do I decide administratively if I'm favoring one group or not favoring another? I didn't want to be caught in any ethical dilemma in my day-to-day decision-making as interim police chief. If I apply, I have a stake in it."
He said if he were asked by the mayor to take the position permanently, he would accept.
"It's something I would feel an obligation to do," he said Thursday. "I love the city."
The city has been looking for a new chief since Chief Daryl K. Roberts retired Dec. 31. Rovella was appointed interim chief in February, replacing Brian Heavren, an assistant chief who served in the interim role for less than two months.
Rovella, head of the Hartford Shooting Task Force and chief inspector for the chief state's attorney's office, has been credited with helping lower the city's homicide rate — by nearly 50 percent this year over the figures recorded at the same point last year, according to the most recent statistics made available by the police department.
But some residents have said the city should appoint a candidate with a stronger background in police management and operations.
Rovella, who was once a city police officer, retired from the department in 2000 after 19 years of service, starting in 1981 and working his way up to homicide detective.
The three finalists chosen by the selection panel have all served as police chiefs or public safety directors.
Straub, who has worked as public safety director in Indianapolis since 2010, also served in that role in White Plains, N.Y., from 2002 to 2010.
He has resigned as public safety director in Indianapolis effective Aug. 1, according to news reports, and has also applied to be police chief in Tacoma, Wash.
Straub submitted his resignation in April while facing a possible no-confidence vote from the Indianapolis City-County Council.
He had come under fire for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's mishandling of evidence in connection with a 2010 fatal crash involving a department police officer, according to news reports. An internal affairs report found that the department was negligent when it mishandled some blood evidence in the high-profile prosecution of Officer David Bisard, the Indianapolis Star reported.
The department's police chief, Paul Ciesielski, also resigned in April.
Heim has been the police chief in Reading, Pa., since 2006, and also served in the same role from 1997 to 2000.
He worked previously as police chief for the Lancaster Bureau of Police and for the Pennridge Regional Police Department in Sellersville, Pa., and as director of public safety in North Augusta, S.C.
Bradley, a former Newark police chief and director of police, now works for a company charged with handling security for the Trenton school district, city officials said.
Bradley was ousted as the Trenton police director in 2010 after Mayor Tony Mack decided not to keep any of the former mayor's department heads, according to a report by The Times of Trenton.
Hartford received 46 applications for the police chief's job, none of which came from within the Hartford Police Department.
The finalists will participate in a public meeting Monday, during which they'll each speak for five to 10 minutes and answer questions from residents. Questions must be submitted in writing.
Rovella will not participate in the meeting, Kupiec said. It will run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the city's public library, 500 Main St.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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