There is a new man in charge of the once-embattled Suffield Police Department.
Interim Police Chief Anthony Riello has been on the job for almost two months, and he said he sees the department as being optimistic and working to move forward.
He said he has taken the last few weeks to meet with every dispatcher, police officer and civilian, and said his door is always open.
"Every employee, everyone gets treated the same. Starting clean with me,” Riello said.
He added that he knows it is a transition that will take time. Morale among officers has been low and residents were left scared for their safety after two police officers filed two separate internal reports alleging a dispatcher went to work intoxicated.
"They did the right thing. Made observations and took action,” Riello said.
Months later, the Eyewitness News I-Team uncovered the alcohol issues for Stacey Robbins started in August of 2014.
She was fired by the first selectman in June, following a May incident where police said her delayed call left a 94-year-old woman waiting for help for more than one hour.
"Anyone calling 911, there's no issues here,” Riello said. “They should feel very confident in the police department and those who work here. I really believe we are on the right path, renewed energy. Production has gone up in the last six weeks, almost 200 percent from last year."
Riello dismisses the internal investigations overseen by now-retired Police Chief Mike Manzi and Captain Craig Huntley, into how things were handled.
"They handled in a way I wouldn't have handled it. And I'm comfortable saying that, but it was their style and they were here and they made those decisions,” Riello said.
When Riello arrived out of retirement from the Pittsfield, Mass. and Falmouth, Mass. Police departments, he brought in an outside consultant who helped officers update their mission and vision statements, along with core values.
He said he leaves in January. On Wednesday the police commission moved a meeting to later this week to meet with another out-of-state consultant to help find a permanent police chief.
"It will be wide open and a very transparent process,” Riello said.
The Suffield Police Union President Justin Fuller said "We're extremely happy with him, but there are still changes that need to happen. The Union still has no confidence in Captain Craig Huntley."
Captain Huntley did not have a comment.
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