At the Aug 13 Greenwich Board of Selectmen meeting Police Chief James Heavey proposed his recommendation to promote Captain Robert Berry to Deputy Police Chief.
The Greenwich Police Department is under the responsibility of the First Selectman in his role as Police Commissioner.
Berry would join Mark Marino to be the second Deputy Police Chief.
“There were two highly qualified candidates, but I’d like to recommend Captain Robert Berry,” Heavey said, adding that there had been a competitive exam administered by a contractor to Town for the purposes of the promotion.
“As someone who sat in and interviewed both applicants, I’ve got to say you’ve done a great job building a solid team,” said First Selectman Fred Camillo. “These were two highly qualified candidates. It was a tough call. Certainly Captain Berry is deserving of this.”
Selectperson Jill Oberlander asked why the Chief created the second deputy chief position?
Chief Heavey said the police department has had two deputy chiefs in the past.
He said having two deputy chiefs would make it possible for one of them to have oversight over professional standards, including new laws for police accountability.
“And it’ll allow us to do some strategic planning,” he added. “And when we look at succession planning, I think it is a positive thing that many of our officers have developed into high level command positions….We’re still working out how the exact details as to how the two deputies will divide the work.”
He said the divisions of the police department include patrol, detectives, operations and professional standards.
“Professional standards is the part of the agency that produced our accreditation, which took over two years,” Heavey said. “Having at least one deputy be an accreditation manager to oversee that part of the department will be very positive.”
Ms Oberlander, who abstained on the vote, said all hires should be representative of the community at large.
“This was a new position, not filling a vacancy,” she said. “I would encourage the First Selectman in his role in hiring, and all our department heads in their role in hiring, to take a careful look at the breadth of opportunity for making all of our positions representative of our community at large.”
Her second comment related to the process.
“The charter gives the Board of Selectmen the authority to vote on this position, and I have appreciated being briefed on the interview process,” she said. “But I was not involved in any of the interviews or any of the selection. So, in the end, my conclusion is that to vote on the appointment without actually participating in the selection process ends up being a rubber stamp. I don’t believe this position should be a rubber stamp.”
Oberlander said she would abstain from the vote, though it was not a reflection on the quality of the candidate.
“In order to really effectuate the charter, and vote on an appointment, one needs to be a participant in the selection process,” she said.
“I hope as we move forward that we’ll be entitled to participate in the selection process,” she added.
“That’s what the process is now,” Camillo said. “That’s something neither you, Lauren nor myself made up. It’s the process we came into, so we work as best we can with it.”
Camillo said that in two weeks, the board would vote on a new fire chief. “If that holds again, that’s understandable, and I don’t think anyone takes that personally.”
“I agree with Jill,” Ms Rabin said. “We did talk about it. Thank you everyone who briefed Jill and I in the final selection. That we need to look to the highest degree possible to be more representative to our community.”
Rabin suggested allowing the other members of the Board of Selectmen to listen to the final presentations of candidates, though not necessarily to ask questions.
“It might be a way to bridge the gap between being briefed after the fact and participating,” she said.
First Selectman Camillo and Selectwoman Rabin voted in favor of the Chief’s recommendation of promoting Captain Berry to Deputy Police Chief. Ms Oberlander abstained.