Next Tuesday was supposed to be Al Vazquez’s first day as a retired city cop. Change of plans: He’ll be sworn in as a new assistant chief instead.
Lt. Vazquez (pictured at right), currently the head of the department’s detective division, and Lt. Anthony Campbell are scheduled to take the oath that day at City Hall.
They will replace two assistant chiefs who are retiring this month: Thaddeus Reddish and Denise Blanchard.
Vazquez will take over Reddish’s role in charge of professional standards and training for the department. Campbell, a Yale Divinity School grad who has run the police academy and overseen internal affairs during his 16 1/2 years in the department, inherits Blanchard’s role in charge of administration. (Click here for a story about the night Campbell almost lost his life to a gun-toting driver of a Dodge Intrepid, and how Campbell later asked a judge to offer the man leniency.) The department has two other assistant chiefs, Luiz Casanova and Archie Generoso.
Police Chief Dean Esserman called the choice of new assistant chiefs “a very hard decision.”
“I’m proud,” he said, that all the candidates were existing New Haven cops. New Haven went outside the department to find its three most recent chiefs; the goal since then has been to develop a bench of assistant chiefs ready to ascend to the top post from within the department.
The appointments come as some 15 officers are retiring, leaving the department more than 100 cops short; and as some top positions are being reshuffled. Vazquez’s former number-two at the detective bureau, Lt. Tony Reyes, has now replaced him there after a brief stint as a district manager in the Hill.
Vazquez had applied to join the Stratford police department. He was ready to start walking a beat there again, he said.
“Law enforcement is something that I love doing, dealing directly with the community,” he said Thursday. “But given the chance to stay and help run this department and take it to where I’d like to see [it go] was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”
“My heart, my vision, my desire remain with the city of New Haven and the members of the New Haven police department. I will aspire to be a great leader, not only to the community I serve, but also the officers I will help lead.”
Vazquez has served on the New Haven force for 22 1/2 years. So has Assistant Chief Reddish, who offered an emotional farewell to the force and received two standing ovations Thursday morning at his final weekly Compstat data-sharing session.
Reddish’s eyes teared as he recalled two colleagues who didn’t make it to 22 1/2 years: Dario “Scott” Aponte, who died in a car crash while on duty; and Robert Fumiatti, who succumbed to injuries suffered when he got shot during a raid.
Reddish hugged Chief Dean Esserman and promised to take the community policing philosophy to other departments; Reddish is currently a finalist for the chief’s job in St. Petersburg, Florida. Esserman called Reddish “a beloved member of the department and the community who trained nearly every officer of the New Haven police department, [who] both lived in District 7 [Newhallville] and served as district manager in District 7.” He predicted that the people will hear the phrase “Chief Reddish” spoken again soon. Click here, here and here for two examples of the work Reddish did in Newhallville…