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What do you guys think of former Chief Larrabee possibly leaving to go to Stamford, CT? I hate to say it but it would be good for Stamford...And if that doesn't work out, Bridgeport CT is going to need a new chief soon!

Mayor to pick city's top cop
By Zach Lowe
Staff Writer

December 5, 2004


STAMFORD -- Mayor Dannel Malloy will pick the city's new police chief early this week, he said.

Malloy limited the field to three finalists last month. Each hopeful is committed to forging closer connections between the department and the community and negotiating a fair contract with the police union, he said.

"I really can't make a bad choice," Malloy said yesterday.

The police union's current contract expires on Jan. 1, and negotiations are expected to be contentious, with the union requesting several specialty units and improvements to cars and radios.

The final candidates are Brent Larrabee, former police chief in Framingham, Mass; Arthur Kelly III, who has been the top cop in five jurisdictions; and Karen Krasicky, deputy chief of the Bridgeport Police Department.

Malloy said eight of the final nine candidates for the job had personal or professional connections with former Stamford Police Chief Dean Esserman, who Malloy hired as chief in 1998.

Esserman left Stamford in 2001 to become police chief in Providence, R.I.

According to Larrabee's resume, he worked as a consultant to the Providence Police Department from March 2003 through February 2004, focusing on threat assessment.

Larrabee's work as a consultant began about two years after his retirement from the Framingham Police Department, where he served as chief from 1987 to 2001. According to colleagues in Framingham, Larrabee radically changed the department's culture by embracing community policing.

"He was doing community policing before it became a buzz word," said current Framingham Police Chief Steven Carl, who worked under Larrabee for more than a decade.

Carl admitted he was one of several officers who initially bristled when Larrabee told the officers to change the way they interacted with the community.

"A lot of us had this attitude that it's 'us' versus 'them,' " Carl said. "He knew that attitude was not going to stop crime. He was ahead of his time."

Larrabee said he was particularly proud of the Framingham department's work with high school students. He had officers teach classes on domestic violence and held regular meetings with students who told him about problems facing teenagers, he said.

Larrabee said he also reached out to residents of public housing by setting up athletic leagues linking police with teenagers.

"Those are things I'd like to replicate (in Stamford)," Larrabee said.

Kelly led a similar cultural shift within the Peoria, Ill., Police Department, where he was superintendent of police from 1994 to 1997, said Leonard Unes, who was a member of the Peoria City Council during Kelly's tenure.

"We didn't even know what community policing was before he got here," Unes said. "When Art came, officers suddenly started talking to neighbors and going into schools instead of just driving around all day."

Kelly promised to reinvigorate community policing in Stamford.

"I can do that here in a week," he said.

He also said his experience as a consultant for the National Threat Assessment Center in the Department of Homeland Security made him an ideal candidate for a city with so many links to Manhattan.

Unes said Kelly stood up for rank-and-file officers during contract negotiations with the city. He said Kelly fought hard for bulletproof vests and new police cruisers.

Kelly said he is prepared to negotiate a fair contract because of his experience as a police chief and union representative.

Krasicky said she has also been on both sides of the negotiating table during her 26 years in the Bridgeport Police Department, where she has held every rank from patrol officer to deputy chief.

She said the new Stamford chief will face the scrutiny of city officials and union representatives, who will each pressure the chief to side with them during negotiations.

"The chief and the union are not going to agree on everything," she said. "But we can't be clashing like two rams on the mountain top."

She said she would fight for safer cars, a better radio system and any other upgrades that would ensure the safety of rank-and-file officers.

Krasicky would become only the third full-time female police chief in Connecticut's history, said James Strillacci, president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association and chief of the West Hartford Police Department.

She would join Lisa Maruzo-Bolduc of Willimantic and Betsy Hard of Bloomfield.

Krasicky said she has fought the perception among male officers that she would be a weak link they would have to protect in violent situations.

Krasicky, who holds a first-degree brown belt in judo, quickly proved otherwise. She trains other officers in self-defense, and said any skeptical trainees snap into line when they see her "dragging one of the guys around the mat" in a self-defense hold.

She once challenged a group of about 40 officers to a jumping jack marathon that finally ended when she and three other officers had done 1,100 jumping jacks. The others had dropped out along the way.

Her termintor-like endurance earned her the nickname "Cyborg Sergeant" among the officers, she said.

As deputy chief, Krasicky said she has promoted community policing. She gives her cellular phone number out to community leaders and residents, who can call her to report trouble 24 hours a day.

She said the technique worked particularly well in a campaign to clean up Bridgeport's Seaside and St. Mary's parks. She said residents near the parks called her to report disorderly groups who were racing motorcycles or drinking alcohol in the parks.

"Now the same people drink soda and they say, 'We can't drink here because that lady fined us,' " she joked.

Malloy said he was conducting background checks of the three finalists before making his final choice.

"I am really happy with all three of the candidates," he said.
Copyright © 2004, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.
 

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Larabee is outstanding guy and a true Police professional. I know alot of folks on Framingham PD, which is a truly GREAT department. I'm sure someone for Framingham State can chime in on that. Brent will make any department stronger and more community focused. A positive addition. The citizens of Stamford would be lucky to have him!
 
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