NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — After finishing up a paid disciplinary period, New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman immediately went on sick leave. Now, the city’s mayor says they both agreed he need to accomplish 10 things before he can come back to work.
The embattled chief is taking on both heavy criticism and praise.
“Before he came, crime was up,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp. “Over the past 5 years he’s been here, crime has gone down and it’s gone down every single year.”
Two years ago, the chief got into an argument with an usher at the Yale Bowl and threatened to “shut the whole game down.”
About a month ago, the New Haven Police Union voted they have no confidence their chief. Then, he was suspended for 15 days after yelling a waitress at a local restaurant. Lastly, an administrative assistant in his office filed a discrimination suit against him claiming he bullied her since he was hired.
“Almost everything that occurred that people complained about him was when he was not on official duty,” said Harp. “Although like the mayor, I reminded him that he’s always on official duty.”
Harp said there are 10 things he has to accomplish but wouldn’t specify what those things are, citing it’s a personnel matter.
“He knows what they are and I know what they are and when he’s ready, he’ll come back,” she added.
“So I think there’s a mixed feeling amongst task force members,” said Rabbi Eliezer Greer, the co-chair for the mayor’s community police task force. He said members struggle with the chief’s behavior but, also like seeing crime stats down in the city.
“There’s no question this is a very difficult for the police chief,” Greer added. “There’s no question about that, and there’s a lot of people with a lot of different opinions, but we need to act with judgment. He may ultimately decide to leave the department.”
The mayor said she hasn’t spoken to Esserman since last week, but plans on talking with him this week to see how he’s coming along with the required tasks.
Esserman served as the chief of the Providence Police Department from 2003 until he resigned in 2011. Below is a look back at his tenure.