A wave of retirements has led the police department to shuffle the deck in Internal Affairs and the Fair Haven and Westville districts.
Police Chief Anthony Campbell has decided to move Lt. David Zannelli, the current top cop in Fair Haven, to head up IA. The current IA officer in charge, Lt. Rose Dell is headed to Westville as the new district manager. Lt. Manmeet Colon, who is currently assigned to Westville, has a new assignment. Colon was originally being reassigned to Fair Haven. Thursday night that decision changed; instead she will become the new district manager of Newhallville.
Mark O’Neill, the top downtown cop, will become the new Fair Haven top cop. Sean Maher, a former downtown district manager, will return to that position.
Campbell said there will be more changes to come, gradually. He has 27 or 28 officers who are eligible to retire right now. On Dec. 7, another 22 officers will be added to that list. The police department also doesn’t yet have a contract, so Campbell is restructuring the department on a small scale for now.
“We have to find better ways to utilize the people that we have left to get the most bang for the buck,” he said.
“Zanelli had shown interest in internal affairs and really developing a career path for the next leaders of the department,” he said. “So he’s demonstrated from working in the investigative services division and now being a phenomenal district manager that he has the leadership qualities that I believe you need to have when you’re running internal affairs. He’s well balanced, and the fact that he’s interested is great, so we’re putting him there.”
“I had a good 14 to 15 months,” Zannelli said, of his stint in Fair Haven. “The community gave a lot, and we lowered crime.”
Likewise, Campbell said he has thought for some time that Dell would make a strong district manager.
Colon and Dell broke the news about the switcheroo at Wednesday’s Westville Community Management Team Meeting. The CMT was back from its summer break; it marked Colon’s return back in uniform since a maternity leave.
“I’m leaving you in good hands,” Colon said of Dell.
Dell said she’s looking forward to this next step in her career.
“I welcome the change and am excited for the opportunities and challenges of the new position,” she said. “I come from a long line of police and fire officers and look forward to helping our citizens.”
Before other changes can be made, Campbell said, he needs to know whether he’s going to lose all 49 or 50 of those officers who are eligible to retire.
“Rather than make changes on a large scale and have to make changes again, I’m holding off until I see in the new year who’s here and who’s gone,” he said. “That will allow me to make some larger changes throughout the department. We may be shrinking some of our units so we can build up our patrol division again.”
Starting next Monday, a police class of 31 recruits will begin training. Campbell noted that it will be about nine months before they’re out on the street. Meanwhile, a number of seasoned officers who are applying for jobs elsewhere.
“I look at it this way: For the next 18 months to two years I’ve got to restructure the department, trim as much as I can, make sure patrol is staffed up, and make sure that I utilize those people who have demonstrated that they have exceptional leadership skills in the best positions to run the department,” he said.
Campbell said Sgt. Brendan Borer, who filled in for Dominguez while she was on maternity leave, might be tapped to head the Newhallville district until another lieutenant is assigned. Campbell said those discussions are ongoing. Dixwell’s current top cop, Lt. Rahgue Tennant, is currently on paid administrative leave as he faces criminal charges for allegedly beating and threatening his wife, allegations he denies. No one has yet replaced him.
Allan Appel contributed to this report.