New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said the city will be appealing a Superior Court decision that found that acting police chief Renee Dominguez should vacate the position and she will remain as acting chief as they go through the appeal.
Elicker said they are disappointed in the decision issued Monday and added that he believed the city is acting in the accordance with the city charter.
Dominguez has been acting chief in New Haven since June 2021 and the mayor nominated her to become police chief, but the New Haven Board of Alders voted in December to reject the nomination.
According to online court records, a decision was released on Monday and says, in part that the defendant, Dominguez, “failed to meet her burden to establish that she is entitled to hold her current office as the New Haven chief of police. Therefore, she is ordered to vacate the position.”
The complaint filed in the case alleged that Dominguez had been improperly acting as police chief “in contravention of the mandate of the New Haven charter” and asked that she be ordered to vacate the position.
The plaintiffs argued that the charter allows the mayor to appoint an individual to the office of police chief temporarily, limited to six months. After that period, the board of alders must approve the nominee or the person may no longer continue in the office.
The defense argued that the interpretation was incorrect because it “improperly usurps the express powers of the mayor.” They went on to argue that the court should “err on the side of allowing the defendant to continue in her present role."
The nine-page decision says that the Board of Alders decision triggered a 30-day period in which Elicker could resubmit the nomination for approval, but Dominguez withdrew her name from consideration and announced that she intended to retire from the force pending the completion of the search for a permanent police chief.
While the decision went on to say that leaving the position of police chief vacant is “less than desirable,” the decision said Dominguez “failed to meet her burden to establish that she is entitled to hold her current office as the New Haven chief of police. Therefore, she is ordered to vacate the position.”
Elicker, city Corporation Counsel Patricia King and Assistant Corporation Counsel Blake Sullivan held a news conference at 3 p.m. to discuss the Connecticut Superior Court decision.
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Rev. Dr. Boise Kimber, the lead plaintiff in the case, spoke about the ruling on Tuesday.
"This is not personal. There is no personal vendetta against Chief Dominguez nor even the mayor," Kimber said. "We live in a world of democracy and democracy has been damaged in the City of New Haven. Mayor Justin Elicker is trying to overthrow the government in the city. He's trying to overthrow the authority of the Board of Alders."