Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Police chief picks retirement day

Ortiz’s last day as chief will be April 11

By William Kaempffer and Maria Garriga
Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — Four months after he announced his retirement, Police Chief Francisco Ortiz Jr. announced his retirement again.
Ortiz told his staff Tuesday that his last day leading the 405-person department will be April 11.
Assistant Chief Stephanie Redding will serve as interim chief until Mayor John DeStefano Jr. picks a successor.
“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with the great men and women of this Police Department and to serve this exceptional community for nearly 30 years,” said Ortiz. “I am grateful to the residents of New Haven for their support all these years, and to the mayor for allowing me to serve in this position for almost five years.”
Ortiz’s letter Monday to the mayor announcing his retirement was his second. In November, he said he would leave the job in January to accept a security post at Yale University. He delayed his departure, at the mayor’s request, after the unexpected retirement of Assistant Chief Herman Badger, his second-in-command.
DeStefano Tuesday offered kind words for the departing chief and Redding.
“As we continue our search for a new chief, I am fully confident that as interim, Stephanie Redding will provide the leadership the department will need to continue our commitment to high-quality community policing throughout our city,” he said.
Redding was the first female in department history to hold the assistant chief position, and will be the first to occupy the top spot, even if her time as interim chief could be measured in weeks.
The city administration has said it hopes to have a new chief selected by the end of April, and neither Redding, nor anyone else from inside the department, has applied for the job.
She joined the department in 1986 as a patrol officer and, as a lieutenant, was named one of two assistant chiefs in the department in 2006.
Redding’s husband, Patrick, is a captain on the force.
Ortiz will start his new job April 21.
His formal announcement, by coincidence, came a day after the Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance amendment that authorizes the city to pay Ortiz’s successor as much as $160,000.
Ortiz earned $108,000. The city had requested an increased salary range, from $100,000 to $160,000, to make the city more competitive in luring a candidate with national credentials.
Chiefs in many cities in the region earn $10,000 to $50,000 more than New Haven paid its head of public safety.
Aldermen approved the new pay scale 23-4 after intense debate.
Alderman Jorge Perez, D-5, offered an amendment that would lower the ceiling to $150,000 as a concession to already burdened taxpayers.
“We need to do this in a way that doesn’t drive people out of the city because of taxes,” he said.
The amendment failed 16-12.
But supporters argued fiercely over that final $10,000.
“If we gave him $250,000, it wouldn’t stop the shootings,” said Alderman Robert Lee, D-11, an opponent of the new pay range. He said he would be happier with a salary range of $120,000 to $125,000.
Alderman Roland Lemar, D-9, disagreed, saying the new chief, selected in a national search, would have to uproot his or her family, move without those expenses being covered and not be eligible for a pension for 10 years.
“It’s not worth it to quibble over $10,000,” he said.

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