Suffield police chief retires after commission meeting on Tuesda - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Suffield police chief retires after commission meeting on Tuesday

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After 12-years, Suffield Police Chief Mike Manzi announced his retirement effective Tuesday.

The police commission met behind closed doors for almost an hour on Tuesday morning after which, the members accepted Manzi's retirement.

Suffield's police union said it hasn't seen Manzi since the middle of June.

"He hasn't been here, and today was the first time we were notified that he wasn't the chief," said Det. Justin Fuller.

Retired Falmouth, Ma Police Chief Anthony Riello will take over for the next three to six months, while a search gets underway to find a permanent replacement. Outside agency will be brought in to handle the hiring of the permanent chief. 

Over the last several months residents have voiced their anger over the way Manzi and Captain Craig Huntley handled an investigation regarding a former dispatcher's job performance.

The public called for an independent investigation, but the chief handled it internally.

In June, members of the police department voted "no confidence" in Manzi and Huntley.

"I want to thank Chief Manzi,” Suffield First Selectman Edward G. McAnaney said. “I think folks concerned with ultimate outcome but think actions taken today provide the town opportunity to move in right direction for future of department and safety and security is preserved moving forward.

Manzi was not available for comment.

When asked if Manzi's retirement had to do with the dispatcher issues or the no confidence vote, Commissioner Kevin Armenta simply said "he retired."

A number of Suffield residents said they were unhappy with the way police handled the dispatcher investigation involving the now-fired dispatcher.

"Certainly the public component made it difficult for him," McAnaney said.

Town records said Stacey Robbins went to work under the influence of alcohol on more than once occasion. The town first became aware of the issue in Aug. 2004.

Last fall, the I-Team obtained internal reports from two officers raising concerns.

"We're excited," Fuller said. "We need change, and change in the right direction."

Riello starts on Wednesday, police said. He previously led the Falmouth and Pittsfield, MA police departments. He'll be on board for three to six months while an outside agency helps find a permanent replacement.

"We need to get our police department working functionally again," said Rick Stromoski of Suffield.

Commissioners said its unclear whether the interim or permanent chief will address the internal reports.

Huntley told the I-Team that neither he nor Manzi were invited to the police commission meeting on Tuesday. He added that he only learned of the new appointment on Tuesday.

“It gives us a chance to breathe. And it brings in an outside expert, which is what I believe the public is asking for," Huntley said. 

The captain said he is happy for Manzi, and believes the chief fulfilled his goal of following in his father's footsteps after a 35-year career in law enforcement.

Huntley said he expects Riello to look at reports on the investigation and said residents should know "the current management welcomes the interim chief and looks forward to the next six months.”  However, it is unclear if Riello or the future permanent chief will address the investigation. 

According to Huntley, he is not leaving the Suffield Police Department and looks forward to answering any questions the public may have.  Many in the public said they still want an outside investigation into this incident. 

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