After 43 years in law enforcement, Assistant Chief Police Achilles “Archie” Generoso will mark his last day on the job on Feb. 3
The news of Generoso’s retirement emerged at Tuesday night’s regular meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners at One Union Ave. headquarters.
“After 40 years of service it will be a significant loss,” said Chief Anthony Campbell. “He’s a father figure. We wish him well. Really sorry to see him go.”
The leading candidate to replace Generoso is Lt. Herb Johnson, who, Campbell, has been “acting as an understudy” to Generoso for the past two years.
Generoso, 65, grew up in the Hill neighborhood. He joined the police department in February of 1975. He helped usher in community policing in the 1990s as a popular initial district manager in the Dwight/Kensington area.
He retired after 20 years, spent 15 years working as an investigator with the state prosecutor’s office, then returned six years ago to help Chief Dean Esserman reboot the New Haven department. As assistant chief in charge of the detective division, he has overseen major homicide and other investigations and at times served as the department’s public face. He helped develop “Project Longevity,” a violence-targeting program in conjunction with state and federal law enforcement, that has attracted a steady stream of visitors from departments around the country hoping to replicate New Haven’s success.
In an interview after the meeting, Campbell said that as the news spread of Generoso’s decision, “people were crying.” He said the city’s sustained drop in crime — including a 2017 homicide rate that was the lowest in 50 years — “reflect[s] his hard work.”
He characterized Generoso as both a true gentleman and “a cop’s cop.” “He has been out there on the scene, in the cold, in the rain, visiting families in the hospital.”
Generoso, who loved coming to work every day, Wednesday called his pending retirement “bittersweet.” He expressed gratitude for his tenure in the department, and the chance to return for a second act.
“I think it’s time. I had a good run,” Generoso said. “We turned the police department back around to where our police department is one of the leaders in the nation, one of the police departments police look to for progressive change.”
Campbell noted at the meeting that another experienced cop, Sgt. Shafiq Abdussabur, who has deep community ties and been an outspoken advocate for community policing, is also retiring, effective Jan. 20. Abdussabur has been on the force 21 and a half years. “The police department has been good to me. The community has been good to me. God has been good to me,” Abdussabur said Wednesday. “Though I will be retiring from the police department, I will not be retiring from the commitment to serving the community.”
Generoso’s retirement sparked a discussion at Tuesday night’s board meeting about the retirement of experienced police officers, particularly in the supervisory ranks.
“You’re losing hundreds of years” of experience, said Commissioner Donald Walker.
“You have a very young department,” another commissioner said, with Campbell concurring, “Very young.” Besides the usual year-end round of retirements, the department has been losing younger officers to suburban departments like Hamden and Madison. (Read about that here.)
Interest in applying to the department remains strong, despite the fact that the force has been working without a union contract since 2016, Campbell said. A list of people who have expressed interest in the job currently has about 500 names. He said the true challenge lies in retaining talented officers.
Campbell said he hopes to field two classes of new officers in 2018 to make up for the retiring and departing officers.
He said Generoso’s retirement and that of other experienced officers does not constitute a crisis for the department. In July the department promoted 15 sergeants, 13 lieutenants, and one assistant chief.
“They’re brand new supervisors. Just like officers, it takes time,” Campbell said. “The real learning process is time and being able to be mentored by seasoned officers. But if those are retiring, because they have opportunities elsewhere, then you have younger supervisors leading younger officers. The young leading the younger.”
“We’ve been through this before. We’ll get through it again,” he added.
Paul Bass contributed reporting.