After a national search process, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has named the city's new police chief. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the mayor decided to stick with a man he already knew.
James Rovella has been acting chief of police. A former city cop and state inspector, Rovella came back to the department initially to run its shooting task force. The result has been a sharp decline in gun crimes and shooting victims in the city.
On Monday, Segarra flew in three outside candidates to be interviewed in public and in private. That was the culmination of a $50,000 national search process. Then, less than a day later, he had made up his mind.
Segarra: I've decided to make the appointment of James Rovella as the permanent chief of police.
Rovella: I was asked very early on, 'How do I feel about this?' And, you know what? I'm humbled. Absolutely humbled.
Rovella said he didn't apply for the job because he didn't want people to question his motives while serving as acting chief. And Segarra dismissed criticism from at least one person on the selection committee who called the process a sham.
"After any process, or lack thereof, or whatever people who are critical want to call it -- I, in my heart of hearts, in my gut, and in my mind, know that I picked the best chief. And I hope that we have support for our chief."
He'll need it. The charter lets the mayor appoint the chief, but the city council has to approve it. And Council President Shawn Wooden says some still have concerns with Segarra's process. He says he would have preferred that Rovella go through the formal vetting.
"So we know that a certain amount of diligence has been taken place with respect to reviewing him. So we know that the public expects and we announce a national process and we spend approximately $50,000 and we take six months for this -- and it seems to be meaningless."
Rovella will start July 18. The reason for the delay -- the city still has to do a background check.