Karl Jacobson pulled out a walking-beat cop’s tools of the trade: a biscuit for the doggies and for the kiddies, plastic badges. In return, he earned a real sergeant’s badge.
Jacobson (pictured) showed off his tools at a special meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday evening. The board unanimously approved the promotion of 19 police officers to the rank of sergeant.
The promotions, scheduled to take place officially at a ceremony on Feb. 1, will fill all but two of 21 department vacancies at the rank of sergeant. The department has wrestled with a shortage of supervisors over the past year.
The cops to be promoted to sergeant are: Derek Gartner, Wayne Bullock, Renee Forte, Sean Maher, Dietrich Hernandez, John Healy, Roy Davis, Rose Dell, Stephan Torquati, Karl Jacobson, Tammi Means, Joshua Armistead, Robert Lawlor, David Zannelli, Peter McKoy, Marco Francia, Jason Weted, Elisa Tuozzoli, and Robert Maturo.
The new class will be the first to attend New Haven’s new Command College for supervisors.
Following nominations by the police chief, commissioners Monday night approved the top scorers on the recent promotions exam—with a couple of exceptions.
Officer James Evarts, who scored 11th on the exam, was passed over. And commissioners stopped short of promoting Officer Betsy Segui, who came in 21st.
Both officers have been involved in controversy in the last couple of years.
The Board of Police Commissioners found Evarts guilty of three departmental violations in 2011 stemming from an incident in which he used sick leave to serve 10 days of jail time for a DUI arrest in Old Saybrook. Evarts was given a one-year suspension without pay and ordered to participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program.
Chief Dean Esserman declined to comment on why he had not put Evarts up for promotion. “I respect the officer and I respect the privacy of the conversation we had,” he said.
Nor was a public reason given for Segui being passed over. There was no indication that it had to do with the Ideat Village incident; supervisors publicly supported her actions in that incident.
Before the commissioners voted to promote the 19 cops Tuesday night, they broke from standard practice and asked each to sit and answer some questions. Cops had the choice of doing so in a public session or in a private, off-the-record, executive session. All chose to speak publicly.
Commissioners asked cops about community policing, about their vision for their future, and about how to connect with young people in New Haven. Commissioner Cathy Graves, who was chairing her last meeting after 16 years on the board, said the conversations were an effort to build relationships between commissioners and the new sergeants.
All the sergeants-to-be praised community policing. Several spoke of cutting their teeth as walking beat cops, and coming to love the position.
Officer Jacobson said he moved to New Haven after being a cop in East Providence, Rhode Island for many years. He said he didn’t want to walk the beat. He came from a department that was all cops in cars, responding to calls. Now he’s a convert. “I buy the community policing thing.”
As he sat down to speak with commissioners, Jacobson pulled out a couple of props: A dog biscuit and a plastic badge, useful for making connections with young people in the neighborhood. “Give a kid one of these and he’ll talk to you every single day,” he said.
Also Tuesday night, commissioners approved changes to Order #300, which covers the use of force. The revisions will allow the department’s rifle program to move forward, said Assistant Chief Thaddeus Reddish. He declined to comment on the specific changes, which will lead to officers carrying patrol rifles in their cars.