The New Haven Board of Alders has voted to reject the nomination of Renee Dominguez as the city's new police chief.
Dominguez has been acting chief in New Haven since June. She had previously been responsible for the department's patrol division.
Alders who voted against the confirmation raised concerns about diversity in the police department, particularly at the highest levels, saying that the department should better reflect the communities it serves.
"We need assistant chiefs that look like us," said Alder Richard Furlow of Ward 27, who is Black. "We pushed for it in the Board of Ed, diversity in teachers, why not police?"
Others also pointed to the record of the department and the number of unsolved violent crimes.
There were some alders that pushed to give Dominguez a chance at the leadership for the remainder of the term, arguing that she should not take the blame for past police record and that she deserved the opportunity to tackle the challenges mentioned in the meeting. Others argued for further discussion of the matter, and expressed a desire to see a plan for the department before any final decisions were made.
The New Haven Board of Alders leadership released a full statement to NBC Connecticut:
"As you are aware the Board of Alders did not approve this nomination from the Mayor for the Police Chief. This is a not a decision we took lightly. The Public Safety of our residents and the well being of our officers are priorities for this Board of Alders and has been a pillar of its agenda for the last ten years. That said, the timing and process of this proposed appointment required a thorough detailed and nuanced plan for the future of the department that was acceptable to the community and engendered trust. That did not happen nor did real community engagement. When we are confident that there is a real strategic plan that includes the recruitment of diverse employees training and advancement of officers to all levels in the department, action on improving closure rates, successful efforts toward decreasing homicides, and tackling the violence afflicting our city, then and only then can we move forward together."
Elicker expressed his disappointment at the board's decision Monday.
"Tonight’s vote by the Board is not just disappointing, it’s disheartening to the women and men of the department that strap on a vest each night and head out to patrol our streets. Chief Dominguez has clearly proven herself as a capable leader of this department. She ably answered each question posed by the Alders and has worked to address specific concerns they raised. I will be re-submitting Chief Dominguez and urge the Alders to approve her appointment at that time," Elicker wrote.
Dominguez has been with the department since 2002. She originally began her career with the Newtown police department.