Whalley, Edgewood and Beaver Hills neighbors have a new top cop, who promised to address neighborhood crime with increased cross-district communication and policing.
Speaking to the WEB Community Management Team meeting Tuesday night, Tuozzoli told almost 35 neighbors that she is excited to be back in neighborhoods after serving as commander at the New Haven Police Academy. The meeting was held at the district’s Whalley Avenue substation, located next to Minore’s Market.
Tuozzoli comes to the district after two decades of law enforcement in New Haven. (Click here to read about how she once rescued a kidnapped 14-year-old boy.) A self-described “Haven girl,” she was born and raised in West Haven, aware that New Haven was just across city lines. After studying criminal justice at the University of New Haven from 1989 to 1992, she joined the Amtrak Police Department in 1996. In 1998, she moved from Amtrak to the New Haven Police Department (NHPD), serving as the beat cop for the Dwight/Kensington neighborhood.
She was in that position for 10 years, serving the Bureau of Identification Unit when she was promoted to detective in 2008. In 2013 she was promoted again to sergeant. In June of this year, she was promoted to lieutenant. She was first made commander at the city’s police academy, and then moved over to the district this month. She replaces Lt. Stephan Torquati, who has been moved to citywide shift commander.
According to Assistant Police Chief Otoniel Reyes, the police department’s plan had always been to promote Tuozzoli to WEB district manager and have Torquati serve there during an interim period. That was just never adequately communicated to neighbors, said Reyes, who introduced Tuozzoli to the neighbors Tuesday night.
WEB Chair Nadine Horton said that Torquati spoke to the group last Thursday, and “said that he’ll be watching over us [in his new role]. So we wish him well.”
Of Tuozzoli’s appointment, she added that “I’m very happy! This is the first time we have a woman in this position in the district. Female power we have a female chair and now we have a female district manager. She’ll have the full support of the neighborhood.”
“I’m really excited to be back here,” Tuozzoli said after the meeting, mingling with community members to talk ideas that ranged from quality of life issues to the possibility of little free library in the neighborhood. She said that she would not be hopping onto WEB’s WhatsApp, because “as a representative of the police department I shouldn’t be trolling on that app.”
“For crimes, residents need to be calling 911 or the police bureau,” she added.
She said she plans to turn her attention to crimes in the district, and how they overlap with districts 4 (Dwight/Chapel) and 2 (Westville/West Hills). Those districts are managed respectively by Lts. John Healey and Manmeet Colon, with whom she said she plans to work closely.
In advance of Tuesday’s meeting, Tuozzoli also met with WEB Alders Richard Furlow, Evette Hamilton and Jill Marks. Hamilton said that meeting had gone well, and that she is excited to see what Tuozzoli does in the area.
“I am happy that she is here,” said Hamilton. “We are going to work together to make a positive difference in the community. I am glad to have her — I kind of felt like we were lost before.”
Tuozzoli was putting that new approach to use by the end of the meeting. As special announcements came to a close, a Goffe Street neighbor (she asked not to be identified) approached her with concerns about illegal drug activity and violence in the neighborhood. She had almost not come, she said, but wanted to speak about problems in her neighborhood.
The woman has a home at Goffe and Carmel Street, she told Tuozzoli. About a month ago, she said, she heard gunfire while she was in her car, and hit the deck as quickly as she could. She watched as the street’s known drug dealers ”headed down [the street] to see what happened.” She said she thought of moving immediately, a thought that hasn’t totally dissipated. How can the NHPD help her feel safe in her neighborhood again?
Tuozzoli wroted details down, looked over her notes, and offered to follow up once she has a better look at the problem area.
Then she shook the resident’s hand, helped Horton clean up the room, and got to work.