Following on a re-organization of the Newtown police department, members of the Police Commission voted to promote two members of the force, one to lieutenant and the other to sergeant, during its meeting Tuesday night at Town Hall South behind the police station.
Sergeant Richard Robinson will be promoted to lieutenant while Officer Stephen Santucci will be promoted to sergeant. The promotions take effect January.
Although in the works for months, the promotions were made after Police Chief Michael Kehoe and the police union reached an agreement on a in which a sergeant slot left open for most of this year will be eliminated and be replaced by a new lieutenant slot.
The department now will have seven sergeants, one administrative and the rest assigned to patrol; and three lieutenants, one administrative, one for patrol and operations and the third newest position will be for "technical services."
Kehoe said he and the police commission determined that with just two lieutenants, the 46 sworn member department was short on command personnel.
Also under the reorganization, the technical services lieutenant would be placed in charge of the detective bureau. Sgt. Darlene Froehlich, who had been the supervisor of that three-member unit, already has been returned to the patrol division. Kehoe said a lieutenant needs to have oversight on the unit, and the sergeant would be better served by being returned to patrol.
The department next will determine the lieutenant assignments, Kehoe said, adding he intends to put together an internal committee.
The planned reorganization has been in the works for months but was met with resistance after failed negotations by Kehoe and the police union. The union had asked that the lieutenants, in order of their seniority, be given their choice of assignments based on their preferred schedule and that out of the two lieutenant candidates, the one who did not receive the promotion, would have a choice of sergeant schedules.
However, Kehoe denied those requests, saying he wanted to make the decision based on what he believed each person's skills were rather than schedule preference. Kehoe and the union finally reached an agreement in which whoever is assigned to be the technical services lieutenant will be allowed to change assignments after a year, officials said.
The union said that because the technical services lieutenant would have to work Monday through Friday, that lieutenant would lose out on any opportunities to work on side jobs, which net extra income for that individual. The two other lieutenant slots have a Tuesday through Saturday; and Sunday through Thursday schedule, with each working a rotation involving evening hours.
Robinson, 43, who grew up in Bethel and is married with two children, has 13 years of experience at the Newtown police department. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Western Connecticut State University with a degree in criminal justice.
Santucci, 35, who grew up in Wallingford and is single, has 11 years of experience. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in biology.
Both had previously qualified for promotions with Robinson among the candidates last year when Chris Vanghele was promoted to lieutenant. Santucci also was under consideration when David Kullgren was promoted to sergeant, and he had previously applied three years earlier when there was an opening.
The commission voted unanimously for Robinson's promotion while its newest member, Andy Sachs, who won election in November to fill an appointed slot, cast the dissenting vote on Santucci's promotion. He did not say publicly the reason for his opposition to the vote. The commission deliberated on the decision behind closed doors in executive session.
Sachs apparently participated in the meeting because he won election to the seat formerly occupied by Neil Randle, an Independent Party of Newtown member who had been appointed to the commission to fill a vacancy left by Keith Jacobs who resigned from the board. Town Charter says people elected to fill an appointed member's spot start their term immediately, according to Kehoe.
During the Tuesday meeting, outgoing police commission Chairman Duane Giannini and member Bruce Walczak also were honored for their service with plaques.