Board of Alders denies Mayor Elicker’s appointment of Staff Sgt. RenÃ©e Dominguez at the head of the police.
Natalie Kainz, Multimedia Editor-in-Chief
On Monday evening, the council of aldermen rejected Mayor Justin Elicker’s appointment of Renee Dominguez as the New Haven permanent police chief until January 31, 2022.
After discussing Dominguez’s track record at their bimonthly meeting, the board ultimately voted to decline his appointment. Dominguez has been acting police chief since March. Elicker, who thought Dominguez was “the right person for the job”, called the decision “disappointing” and “disheartening”. While some alders supported Dominguez’s appointment, noting that his tenure would last only two months, others against the appointment were disappointed by Dominguez’s lack of vision to create a diverse police service and to curb an increase in police forces. homicides in New Haven. In addition, members of Unidad Latina en AcciÃ³n criticized its support for the âthin blue lineâ flag.
Elicker has declared his intention to resubmit Dominguez’s nomination for consideration in two weeks. If the council of aldermen then votes against her approval, she will no longer be able to assume the role of chief of police.
“The timing and process of this proposed appointment required a comprehensive, detailed and nuanced plan for the future of the department that was acceptable to the community and generated confidence,” said a statement from the council of aldermen released after the vote. “When we are convinced that there is a real strategic plan that includes the recruitment of diverse employees, the training and advancement of agents at all levels of the department, measures to improve closure rates, successful efforts to reduce homicides and tackle the violence that plagues our city, then and only then can we move forward together.
Before the meeting, on the steps of the town hall, activists from Unidad Latina en AcciÃ³n and Black and Brown United in Action protested against the nomination of Dominguez on the grounds that she is a “racist cop” under whom violence army increased and promotions were disproportionately granted. to white officers, rather than black or Latino officers. They chanted âNo la queremosâ or âWe don’t want herâ and distributed leaflets against Dominguez’s appointment.
âIf the Alders board did their research, they would find that it doesn’t match the profile they created in the charter,â said Catherine John, ULA coordinator. âShe’s done her diversity thing, but she doesn’t believe in diversity or fairness. It was just a checkbox.
During the protest, John Jairo Lugo, ULA’s director of community organization, said he made “700 calls” to the police department last weekend against the appointment.
At the start of the Alders board meeting, protesters brought their placards, flags reading “DPSN Guilty – New Haven Against Police Brutality” and microphones inside Town Hall.
âThere were 24 deaths [over the past year] that haven’t really been fully investigated, mostly black and brown people from New Haven City, âsaid Briam Timko, New Haven community member and ULA supporter. âAnd this is unacceptable. â¦ They are still waiting for answers.
When the council of aldermen came to the contentious agenda item to approve or deny Dominguez’s appointment as chief of police, many were at odds in their choice.
Ward 10 Alder Anna Festa pleaded for Dominguez’s nomination, given that “all eyes” would be on Dominguez’s leadership over the next two months. She recognized the need to “put pressure” on the police department, given the 25 homicides recorded this year in New Haven. Ward 21 Alder Steven Winter also backed Dominguez’s nomination and said it was “not fair to hold Dominguez accountable for his department’s problems”. Winter also cited the fact that the current police recruit class is more diverse than previous recruit classes. While the previous two recruit classes were 48 percent and 50 percent white, respectively, the current recruit class is 44.5 percent white.
âThis department does not have a single black person in its administration who sits around the table,â said Reverend Boise Kimber, local civil rights leader and pastor of Calgary’s early Baptist churches in New Haven and Hartford at the time. of a press conference on November 29. âFirst of all, we have nine districts. And we have nine white district captains. How do we patrol a town that looks like us in the community, but unlike us in the police department? “
Richard Furlow, Ward 27 Alder, agreed that diversity, having “deputy chiefs who look like us” in the police department was necessary. He pronounced a “categorical no” at the alder meeting.
Other alders worried about Dominguez’s lack of concrete plans.
Ward 1 Alder Eli Sabin wanted to see specific steps the police department would take “to increase trust, increase diversity, [and] make sure our police department is trusted by our residents. Alder from Ward 25 Adam Marchand agreed.
Shortly after the vote to deny Dominguez’s nomination, Elicker released a statement that he will resubmit the nomination, urging the alders to endorse the resubmitted nomination. Dominguez oversaw around 100 firearms seized as of July 14 and called for more local residents to be recruited into the police force, Elicker wrote.
“Under [Dominguezâs] leadership, we are rebuilding the ranks of our department and she has made it a priority for the department to look like the community it protects, âElicker wrote. âFor many months now, she has been implementing our comprehensive plan to combat armed violence. “
Dominguez could not be reached immediately for comment.
The Alder Council meets on the first and third Monday of each month at 165 Church St.