NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Friday marked the final day of New Haven Acting Police Chief Renee Dominguez's more than two-decade run with the department, months earlier than was expected.
Dominguez was named in a civil lawsuit filed by a couple of New Haven ministers, who won when a judge ruled that Mayor Justin Elicker's administration violated the city charter by keeping Dominguez on the job for longer than six months.
Dominguez contends one of the plaintiffs of the suit, Rev. Dr. Boise Kimber, is wrong in saying she has not implemented a plan for community policing. She said community policing has been the foundation for her career.
"I'm 42 years old," Dominguez said Friday. "I'm retired before my mom, which I said to her this morning and she said 'yeah I have another two years left.' It's crazy."
In her view, the negativity surrounding her nomination for the permanent chief's position being rejected by the Board of Alders in December followed by the lawsuit being filed in January just became too much of a distraction for the police department. So she announced earlier this week she would retire almost immediately.
"I think that it's an unfortunate day for New Haven because Chief Domínguez has shown during her time serving as acting chief just what she's been able to accomplish," Elicker said.
The mayor cited the fact that there has been a reduction in community violence while violent crime arrests and gun confiscations have gone up on Dominguez's watch.
"My job is to minimize the political influence that causes challenges for our city workers and to keep residents safe," Elicker added.
Earlier this week New Haven's police union president issued a memo to his members stating, in part, "The saga over the police chief appointment displays one very obvious thing: Mayor Elicker has no plan for the police department."
"We have all kinds of drama from Dr. Kimber and now we've got all kinds of drama from the president of the union," a frustrated Elicker said.
But that's all behind Dominguez now. And as she left the department for the final time, men and women in blue joined the New Haven Fire Department in saluting her.
"I'm truly overwhelmed," she said with tears in her eyes. "I did not expect all of this to have happened. I feel a lot of love."
For now, Dominguez is thrilled to be a full-time mom to her young daughters but said she is not done with policing.
Elicker noted the city received 15 applicants for the police chief's vacancy. Until a new chief is hired, Regina Rush-Kittle, the city's Chief Administrative Officer, whose resume includes vast experience with the Connecticut State Police and local departments, will assume the role of acting chief.
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