New Haven Assistant Police Chief to Retire

John Velleca said a chief should be able to pick his assistant chief.

The assistant police chief of New Haven will retire in January.

John Velleca, 42, has been with the department for 20 years and runs the major crimes division, the New Haven Independent reports. He is leaving as a new chief comes in to run the police force.

"I think it's time," he told the New Haven Register. "Everyone ... I've learned from on this job told me don't be defined by a position or a title because positions and titles come and go. I think I've accomplished a lot. A lot of cops who are better cops than I will ever be never get past patrol."

Velleca is a new dad and told the Independent he wants to send more time at home and finish his criminal justice degree. The requirements of the job mean that he often has to respond to a crime scene in the middle of the night.

“You’re out on every murder. Every major incident your detectives go to, they should have their assistant chief. The family of the victim deserves to have [top brass] there. That’s the life of a detective no one sees—getting up in the middle of the night, working the case for days while you’re missing family functions and holidays,” he told the Web site.

The city of New Haven has a new police chief. Dean Esserman returned to the department to fill the chief’s job after Frank Limon left, 19 months into his 4-year agreement with the city.

Velleca told the Independent he has seen what can happen when a chief is not able to pick his deputy.

“The chief and the assistant chief didn’t get along. All that really hurt was the rank and file patrol officers. It transcended the entire department,” he said.

“The Assistant Chief has been an asset to the police department and the residents of New Haven. I wish him well,” New Haven mayor John DeStefano said.

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