Assistant New Haven police chief receives lots of support after suspension

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NEW HAVEN -- There was a show of support outside New Haven City Hall Wednesday for Assistant Police Chief Lou Cassanova after the decision to suspend him from the department for one day.

State Rep. Juan Candelaria said, “Yes, he used a poor choice of words, but should he be crucified for it?”

The word in question  is"mope.”  Cassanova’s attorney said he called an officer a mope because of the way he was wearing his hat.

Tuesday, a  group of clergymen and retired police officers said it's a derogatory term when used in the manner it was. They asked that Mayor Toni Harp suspend the search for a police chief, which some say Cassanova was hoping to get, and just appoint interim Chief Anthony Cambell.

Cassanova supporters are calling his punishment unfair considering the man who was involved in the decision-making for his suspension was Campbell.

“This is a political persecution against an individual that we all know is vying for chief of police,” said Candelaria. “Was it a fair and transparent process?”

“Two great candidates. Let's let the process be a transparent process of selecting the next chief of police for the city of New Haven,” said Candelaria.

Cassanova supporters say they're confident Cassanova should get the job.

“He's really passionate about what he does, so it's really sad his name could be possibly slandered cause of this,” said Claudette Ahumada.

Supporters later stopped inside City Hall hoping to speak with Mayor Harp. They have a meeting scheduled for next Thursday.

Mayor Harp's spokesperson says she looking for someone with extensive community policing experience, a staple of former Police Chief Dean Esserman's tenure, and will make a decision on who will lead the New Haven Police Department  by mid-February.