Strong words were exchanged Tuesday in the aftermath of a court decision that said New Haven’s Acting Police Chief Renee Dominguez should vacate her position. The city is appealing that decision, which has led to frustration and anger from those who filed the initial complaint.
Some New Haven clergy members, and their attorney held a news conference Tuesday morning. They say by appealing the city is disrespecting the community and a judge’s ruling.
“What example is that to the community when your leaders don’t follow authority,” said pastor John Lewis.
Reverend Dr. Boise Kimber was one of the plaintiffs who argued that New Haven’s city charter allows the mayor to appoint a police chief only temporarily. A permanent replacement must be approved by the Board of Alders. Dominguez did not receive that approval. Now, after the court sided with that view, Kimber wants the mayor to immediately comply.
“Mayor Justin Elicker is trying to overthrow the government in the city,” Kimber said.
Standing behind the right to appeal, Elicker responded to those comments. Some of the comments specifically said he was quote, “damaging democracy.”
“That sounds a little over dramatic to me. The city appeals cases all of the time,” said Elicker.
During an appeal, Dominguez would be allowed to maintain her position. The plaintiffs suggest this is a tactic to delay the process.
“This case has been fully argued. All the arguments of the city have been rejected,” said Attorney Jerald Barber, representing those who filed the complaint.
Conversely, the city says they believe their interpretation of the charter is the correct one. An attorney representing the city says the court’s decision was very narrow and they have a right to their appeal.
“It’s part of the democratic process and it’s part of the rule of law,” said the city’s attorney Patricia King.
During their news conference, the clergy lobbied for Assistant Police Chief Karl Jacobson to be given the interim position. Elicker said this suggestion and the news conference in general are a distraction from the main goal of finding a permanent police chief.
“I think New Haven residents are tired of that kind of politics. And I’m tired of it,” said Elicker. “I’m going to focus on what I need to do to make sure we keep our community safe."
Applications for the police chief position are being accepted until May 9. As for the appeal, that has not been filed yet, but attorneys say they have up to 20 days from Monday’s ruling to do so.