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Acting New Haven Police Chief Renee Dominguez Retires, Mayor Selects New Interim Chief

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The acting New Haven Police chief announced that she's retiring Saturday amid controversy in the city's police department and the mayor has announced a new interim chief.

"Six-year-old me would have never in her wildest dreams dreamed the dream she would lead the New Haven Police Department," Dominguez said in a press conference Tuesday.

Dominguez said she's retiring because of her fellow police officers and the city's need for a consistent leader of the police department.

The acting police chief noted that homicide rates have lowered by 73% this year. She said that officers were told to go out there and work regardless of who is chief.

"They have done that. Lowered crime, lowered homicide," Dominguez said. "They [officers] do that because they believe in the leadership of this city."

"I need to thank them because they have done that and they have done it with the uncertainty of not knowing who is going to be a chief," Dominguez continued.

Mayor Justin Elicker has announced that the city's Chief Administrative Officer Regina Rush-Kittle will serve as interim police chief. She'll return to her normal duties once a new permanent chief is selected.

The mayor noted that Rush-Kittle has served in many roles in New Haven and has also served with Connecticut State Police for 28 years. She has 30 years of military and armed reserves experience, where she was awarded a Bronze Star Medal.

“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to lead the New Haven Police Department whose officers I’ve been proud to work with on a daily basis for the past five months," said Rush-Kittle. “As someone who has spent over 30 years in law enforcement, I know what our police officers face every day on the job, and I’m committed to providing them with the support and leadership they need during this time of transition so that they can effectively serve and partner with the community to keep our city safe.”

Deputy Chief Rebecca Bombero will take over as acting CAO in the meantime.

Dominguez said it was a personal choice to retire.

"I have always said I would be retiring, it was just a matter of time. I wanted to bridge my leaving with a new permanent chief but it has come to a time where it's the right time to go," Dominguez said.

She said she's done everything she has wanted to do and had a "blessed career," noting that the experience has made her a better cop.

"I have been able to experience so many things. I have had amazing interactions, amazing officers, amazing mentors," Dominguez said. "They have seen things in me I have not always seen in myself."

Dominguez said there's a lot of criticism and negative attention, saying "[the job] is politics, not performance."

"I leave this place knowing I have led the police department according to my values and morals," she said.

The acting police chief said she doesn't know what comes next, but she's going to be mom to her two kids first.

"There will be something in the future. I'm not done. But taking a little bit of a break," she said.

Elicker Speaks on Dominguez Retirement

Elicker said he is sad to see Dominguez go, saying that he thought Dominguez was the "right person for the job."

"I'm very thankful that you are professional and your commitment to the city is so much that you don't let the noise distract you from the job and keeping residents safe," Elicker said in a press conference, directed towards Dominguez.

Elicker said she was highly qualified and has a strong track record. He said it was because of a small number of individuals that wanted to push politics, causing the city to "waste a lot of time."

"We have had to spend a lot of money, incredible amounts of time and energy. Frankly, I think this process has somewhat tarnished our name," Elicker said.

The mayor said he plans to interview applicants for the permanent police chief role. Then, his choice will go to the Board of Alders for approval. He said he's anxious to get them a name as soon as possible.

"I have absolutely no regrets. You can’t work in this amazing city with these amazing officers and have regrets," she continued.

Dominguez will retire with a pension, according to Elicker.

In a recent Face the Facts special, New Haven reporter Kyle Jones broke down the the power struggle in the city's police department.

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