Suffield’s interim police chief has been removed of his title after failing to obtain certification to be a police officer in Connecticut, but he is still leading the police department.
Anthony Riello had a year to take 17 courses to become certified, but did not meet the deadline, according to the Police Officer Standards Training Council.
State officials have informed to Riello and the police commission that the interim chief was no longer eligible to hold the title as of July 23.
He worked in Pittsfield and Falmouth, Massachusetts for decades and was hired in Suffield in July 2015 on a temporary basis after the former chief retired following a situation in which a dispatcher allegedly showed up to work drunk several times.
Riello, who was provided a department-issued gun, a badge and an unmarked car, told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters that he has never been a police enforcement officer for the town.
“I wasn’t hired to be a police officer and I’m not in any way discounting their requirements in being a police officer. I think it makes perfect sense, but that’s not why I was hired. I’m leading the department and there will be an end to thing in just a few months,” Riello said.
Riello was also informed that he is not authorized to discharge the duties and responsibilities of a police officer in the state.
"That’s correct, absolutely and I don’t, quite frankly. I haven’t and I’ll certainly respect that, but in terms of the agreement I have with the town of Suffield, I’m not sure how they’ll handle that and they’ll go forward with it, and if I’m not called the chief, that’s OK. I’m still leading the department,” he said.
Kevin Armata, chairman of the Suffield Police Commission, said Riello didn’t feel he needed to complete the 17 courses because he had a one-year extension and was only going to be in Suffield for six months.
“So to complete those 17 courses would have taken longer than he was here for,” Armata said.
When asked about adhering to state regulations, Armata said the commission looks for a leader, not for the chief to apprehend suspects and criminals.
The police commission and First Selectwoman Melissa Mack will be meeting on Friday and looking at the options, but Mack called this a technicality they take seriously and said they might ask for an extension.
Armata and Riello both said morale is much better within the department than it was last year, they've made great strides moving the force forward and have several new systems in place.
Riello's $45,000 contract extension is up at the end of December and town officials said they are activity pursing a permanent replacement.