Gathered outside the New Haven Police Department, a small group of protesters called on the resignation or removal of Chief Dean Esserman as the city’s top cop.
“He cannot have temper tantrums in public,” said Lia Miller-Granger, an organizer from Black Lives Matter New Haven. “He cannot directly demean the people who are supposed to work under him and the residents of the city without being held accountable.”
Chief Esserman was scheduled to return to work after a 15 working day paid leave of absence for berating a waitress at Archie Moore’s Restaurant in New Haven.
Instead, Mayor Toni Harp (D) said in a statement Monday he is now on “temporary sick leave.”
“If somebody is bullying at the top that filters down throughout the rest of the force,” protester Norman Clement said, “it gives license to the next guy to do it.”
Two of New Haven’s Assistant Police Chiefs watched the protesters before they marched to meet up with another group of Church Street.
Right before going on paid leave, Chief Esserman flew to Washington, D.C. for a discussion with President Obama on improving police and community relations.
Esserman’s supporters point out crime in the past five years has declined under his leadership.
“Although Esserman is at the top head,” Miller-Granger said, “he is not directly responsible for what is going on in the city. The police officers and residents are and I definitely thank them.”
Two sources, one with police and one with the city, confirm another episode of questionable behavior by Chief Esserman. Back in October 2014, they say he got into an argument with the Secret Service during a visit by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Mayor Harp has declined NBC Connecticut’s interview requests. It is unclear how long Esserman will be on sick leave.