East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo announced Tuesday that after a seven-month, nationwide search the town will now have a new police chief.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, Maturo announced he will appoint Interim Chief Brent Larrabee as permanent Chief of Police in East Haven.
Larrabee, who was once in charge of the Stamford Police department, replaced Leonard Gallo right after those four officers were arrested by the federal authorities.
"I've done it now for at least a year just said I can't let that year be wasted," Larrabee said. "I have to kind of run it out and finish up."
Gallo retired after the arrests of four members of the East Haven Police Department for violated the civil rights of Latinos in town last January. Officers Jason Zullo, Dennis Spaulding and David Cari as well as Sgt. John Miller were arrested.
The office of the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut said the officers were going after Latinos making them feel scared in their own town and businesses. A popular priest in the Latino community was even arrested for trying to record some of the police officers harassing Latinos.
One Latino community member told Eyewitness News that things have improved greatly under Larrabee.
"He was doing a great job I can say. He was friendly, close and he listened to what we say and Department of Justice say."
The search for a new police chief began last June when the town asked Strategic Policy Partnership, LLC to conduct a nationwide search for candidates.
"The town exercised due diligence in posting the position, and took clear steps, including placing ads in minority news outlets, to attract candidates from all walks of life," Maturo said. "The town's receipt of 82 applications showed that there was a large degree of interest in the position."
Maturo said East Haven had five finalist candidates for the position of police chief and all of them "exhibited the professionalism and drive to lead our department forward."
"However, in addition to these qualities, Brent Larrabee demonstrated a clear vision of the steps that must be taken, moving forward, to make our police department one of the best in the nation," the mayor said.
Federal investigators are still investigating the incidents and have not ruled out more arrests. The East Haven Police Department, under a court agreement with the justice department, is working under strict guidelines on what it needs to do to correct issues involving racial profiling.
At the same time, federal investigators still have a criminal investigation that could lead to more arrests.
"Things have certainly quieted down," Maturo said. "Hopefully, they'll let us do what we have to do and better our community and move forward."
Larrabee will be sworn-in as new police chief Feb. 13.
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