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Assistant Chief To Take Charge

Brian Heavren, A 21-Year Police Veteran, Will Lead In Interim

By Jenna Carlesso And Steven Goode

December 30, 2011

Assistant Chief Brian Heavren has been named the city's acting police chief, replacing Daryl K. Roberts, whose last day on the job is Friday.

Roberts is retiring after 30 years on the force, five as chief.

Mayor Pedro Segarra on Thursday also named James Rovella as a special assistant who will act as a liaison between the police department and the city. Rovella is chief inspector for the chief state's attorney's office and head of the Hartford shooting task force.

Heavren, 44, a 21-year veteran of the police department, was appointed assistant chief in August 2007. He currently serves as commander of the detective bureau.

He will begin his new duties Jan. 1.

"I'm still kind of overwhelmed by the whole situation," Heavren said Thursday. "I'll need a little time to sit back and take it in. Certainly, [priorities] will need to be made with input from the mayor's office and my command staff so we all see the mission through the same eyes and come up with shared goals."

Heavren served previously as chief of patrol, headquarters commander, homeland security coordinator and commander of emergency services for the police department. He also has commanded the department's bomb squad, crimes against property division and the police academy.

He earned a master's degree in management and a certificate in Homeland Security from St. Joseph College, and a bachelor's degree in emergency health services administration from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Heavren said Thursday that he plans to evaluate how the department is being run and make improvements.

"I certainly have some ideas for how to make the department my own," he said, "But I recognize that at some point a permanent chief will be appointed and I don't want to do too much that an incoming chief will have to change.

"My charge is just to make the changes that I can make. I'm just happy right now to be trusted and selected for the interim spot."

He said it is too soon to say if he'll apply for the permanent job.

Heavren will receive compensation similar to Roberts' -- about $158,000 annually, said Jared Kupiec, Segarra's chief of staff.

Segarra said Heavren is a "capable" and "experienced" police administrator whom he trusts to take on new challenges within the police department.

"Not only is he a new chief, he faces the challenge of trying to do better with our crime," he said Friday. "Citizens have said crime is their top priority and we're focused on it."

Richard Holton, president of the Hartford Police Union, said the turnover is welcome.

"It's time for change," he said. "Regardless of the change taking place, I think morale will improve. But I don't think we just need a change in the corner office; there has to be the ability to make a change throughout the department."

Roberts said Thursday that he was glad to hear the interim chief was chosen from within the department.

"I think it's a good move. It gives him credibility in the department," he said of Heavren. "I think he'll do a great job."

Rovella, 53, whose task force has made more than 100 shooting-related arrests since it began work in early July, will be in charge of communications between the city and the police department, Segarra said. He'll also continue his responsibilities as head of the shooting task force.

Rovella could not be reached for comment Thursday.

His contract with the city will run through Feb. 29, with the possibility of up to three 90-day extensions. During that time, the city will reimburse the state for his salary as chief inspector -- about $6,000 every two weeks, Kupiec said.

"He's been extremely effective with the shooting task force in bringing resources together to have an impact on homicides and shootings in our city," Segarra said. "I'm confident we can replicate that in other aspects of the city."

The mayor said he still intends to hire a recruiting firm to assist in the nationwide search for the next police chief. Six firms have expressed interest, he said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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