Two years after taking office, Meriden police chief cites staffing gains and confidence building

MERIDEN — Roberto Rosado, who became the city’s police chief two years ago, entered the department with many goals, some of which he can now call accomplishments.

Staffing levels, building trust within the community and creating a vision for the future are some of the items on his list of priorities.

According to Rosado, resolving staffing issues was essential to correcting other problems within the police department and the community at large. This is why for the past two years, the recruitment of new and experienced officers, the retention and promotion of personnel have been among Rosado’s priorities.

“We don’t just promote officers, but we give them the training and the tools to keep progressing,” Rosado said.

For Rosado, gender and racial diversity are important during the hiring and recruiting process, as he strives to have a workforce that represents the city. The chief was able to begin to change the culture of the department as some agents retired from the agency.

Developing relationships with young people is one of Rosado’s objectives. When he started his role in Meriden, there was an upsurge in violence across the state and that was something officers needed to focus on, he explained. Now that the violence has decreased and the number of officers has increased, officers are spending more time on community engagement, he said.

Use of force

Rosado said the Meriden Police Department made sure officers received the required training regarding the use of force and police accountability. His department is open to adapting and preparing officers for difficult situations, Rosado said.

He said the community and the police department had a “great” relationship and that for at least the past two years the use of force and brutality had not been a concern in Meriden.

Rosado declined to comment on the current implementation of the Civilian Police Review Board, approved by city council last November following a series of contentious debates. The council’s purpose is to provide an independent review of the police department’s internal investigations into use of force complaints filed against any police officer in the city.

Rosado had previously expressed concerns about the creation of the board and criticized the methodology of an investigation by the panel that studied the creation of a review board.

Rosado has since been asked to speak as an expert on topics involving the selection process, including questions for applicants and background checks, according to internal correspondence obtained by the Record-Journal via an access request. to information.

During the recent interview, Rosado cited office hours and polls as ways the community can contact him if there is a problem. Traffic and noise are among the complaints he has received so far from the community. Meriden residents are welcome to drop by the Chief’s Office during office hours on Thursdays from 3-5:30 p.m.

Rosado’s vision for the future

Part of the job Rosado wants to do as chief is to fix the police department’s infrastructure, including roof leaks, improve locker rooms, and upgrade certain areas of the department to comply with the equipment used by agents. For example, agents now have more equipment to charge and adding charging stations would help them, he said.

Rosado wants to expand the cadet program to give more young people the opportunity to join. He would also like to establish a summer leadership program to help youth with topics such as drugs, negative actions that could impact their lives, and positive ways to succeed.

Community Feedback

Efrain Valentín, owner of Valentin Karate, was part of the police chief’s search committee that recommended Rosado’s hiring in June 2020 to replace Chief Jeffry Cossette, who retired after more than three decades in the service.

Rosado, originally from Meriden, had been chief of the Willimantic Police Department. Valentin continues to have one-on-one conversations with officers, he said, to find out how things are going with the department and the still relatively new chief. If there are any concerns, Valentin lets Rosado know, but so far the response has been positive.

An important view that Valentín has heard from officers is that Rosado is “accessible”.

“I never heard anything negative,” Valentin said.

It appears that morale has improved “a lot” in the department since Rosado took over, Valentín said.

Kim Fisher, president of the Meriden-Wallingford NAACP, was also on the police chief’s search committee and echoed Valentin’s comments about what other officers think about having Rosado in charge.

Rosado has been “awesome” and always takes the time to listen and address concerns about the department and the community, Fisher said. Additionally, Fisher noted that when agents are invited to attend an event, they go. Regarding police brutality and the use of force, Fisher said that to his knowledge, it was not an issue in the city under Rosado.

“I think it’s because he keeps a door open to the police department, so if you have a problem, he’s easy to approach, easy to talk to,” Fisher said.

Holly Wills, president of the Meriden Council of Neighborhoods, said she was impressed with Rosado’s work. Rosado supports neighborhoods, neighborhood associations and police department personnel, Wills said. She’s glad Rosado brought back the Neighborhood Initiative Unit because it’s something that impacts neighborhoods, Wills said. The unit, which is an effort that assigns officers to specific neighborhoods, has been around since the 1990s. It was phased out about seven months ago, due to personnel issues, and it restarted about six months ago. weeks, Wills said.

Democratic Councilman and Deputy Mayor Michael Cardona is also chairman of the city’s public safety committee. Cardona said he was “pleased” with Rosado’s performance as leader. Cardona said the Public Safety Committee is constantly looking for trends to see if general public safety issues are improving. He praised Rosado’s level of transparency when asked for data and demographics. There has been a moderate increase in some types of theft, but in most categories crime rates have gone down, Cardona said.

City Council Deputy Minority Leader Bob Williams Jr. of the local We the People party is also a member of the public safety committee. Williams agrees that Rosado runs a transparent police department. He said that in general, the way things are going at the police department has exceeded his expectations. Police use of force and brutality is not a problem in Meriden, he said.

“The chain of command has made it clear that they will not tolerate this at any level,” Williams added.

Journalist Michael Gagné contributed to this story.

[email protected]: @KarlaSantosNews

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