Mayor Dan Drew formally announced that he is nominating Acting Chief William McKenna to be our city's permanent police chief. He made the announcement in a Council Chambers filled to overflowing with Directors, Chiefs, Council members, city employees, and the family of McKenna. All had come to express their enthusiastic support for the nomination.
Drew directly addressed a promise that he made in his mayoral campaign to undertake an open search for the new Police Chief.
It had been my intention to conduct a search for this position initially. I was very clear about that for my first campaign and even for a good portion of my second campaign. But as things changed and as I came into office and observed Chief McKenna and the way he conducts himself, his capacity for judgement, the way he treats people, and ultimately the way he leads people, I became convinced, very quickly, that Chief McKenna is the right choice to lead the Middletown police department. So today I am proud to announce that I am formally nominating acting chief McKenna to the position of permanent chief of the Middletown police department.
McKenna was sworn in as a police officer by Mayor Tom Serra 17 years ago, along with Michael Timbro and Stephen Augeri. The appointments generated controversy at the time. According to an article in the Hartford Courant (April 6th, 1995), none of them made a "recommended hiring list provided by the police department after extensive background checks." Serra defended the appointments by telling the Courant that "they all come from good, decent, long-standing Middletown families."
McKenna was the acting Deputy Chief when former acting Chief Patrick McMahon was accused of having a drink while in uniform. After McMahon was terminated by Mayor Drew for drinking and for using deceptive and threatening language, McKenna rose to become Acting Chief.
McKenna responded to his selection as permanent Chief by thanking Mayor Drew, the McKenna family, the directors and chiefs who attended, and especially his fellow officers. He read from prepared remarks,
By appointing me today, you will have the opportunity to appoint several other deserving leaders in our organization along with internal growth opportunities and I look forward to that. I hope the Common Council members also recognize the abilities in not only me but in the rest of the members of the department. There are several leaders in our department I can’t stress enough how special these officers are: officers, sergeants, lieutenants, captains. We have a great bunch and I can’t wait to start the promotion process.
It is clear that this appointment is a very popular one at City Hall. McKenna was interrupted by spontaneous applause on several occasions. Former Mayor Sebastian Giuliano also came out to support McKenna, he told The Eye about the appointment, "It's a good choice."
Drew said that the nomination would be considered at the May Council meeting.