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As Segarra's Deadline Passes, Hartford's Rovella Still Isn't Permanent Chief

Mayor said today was the day

By Jeff Cohen

July 18, 2012

Last week, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said acting Police Chief James Rovella would become permanent chief today/yesterday. All that was left was a background check. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the check isn't done -- and Rovella hasn't been sworn in.

Here's how Segarra described Rovella's appointment last week.

"Effective the 18th of July, which is next Wednesday. The reason for the delay between today and Wednesday is to complete a background examination, background check, which I ask that any potential candidate be subject to."

Maybe it's a distinction without a difference. A city spokesman says Rovella has the "full power and authority to lead and manage the police department." But, because of what the city says are "minor contractual items," Rovella has not yet been sworn in.

But while it may be a technicality, technicalities could prove important in Rovella's confirmation process. Because while Segarra spent $50,000 on a national search, hired an outside consultant, and brought in three finalists for interviews -- Rovella, the acting chief, wasn't one of them. He didn't even apply for the job or go through the formal vetting process. And Segarra picked him anyway, because he thought he was the best for the job.

That selection process has people on the city council concerned. And the city council has to confirm Rovella within a couple of months. Shawn Wooden is the city council president.

Wooden: There are quite a few members of the council who still have significant concerns about the process...

Cohen: Is his nomination confirmation a slam dunk?

Wooden: No. It's definitely not a slam dunk. But people do want to proceed with the process so that they can start to focus on his qualifications and hear more from the community.

The city says Segarra has reviewed the parts of Rovella's background check that are finished. But the entire investigation is not yet done.

For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.

Reprinted with permission of Jeff Cohen, author of the blog Capital Region Report. To view other stories on this topic, search Capital Region Report at http://capitalregionreport.wordpress.com/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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