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Protesters call on embattled New Haven Police chief to step down

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NEW HAVEN -- Dozens of protesters took to the streets of the Elm City demanding its police chief step down.

Dean Esserman has headed up the department since 2011 when he was appointed by then Mayor John Destefano. Esserman promoted community policing as a core way to combat crime in New Haven, and, according to current Mayor Toni Harp, crime has decreased over the past few years.

Esserman is under fire for multiple incidents involving his temper. Among them, a scene at the Yale Bowl when he was denied entry into the football game for free, and more recently, berating a waitress at a New Haven restaurant & bar.

In early July, the city's police union overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence in the chief.

Protesters had a petition and called on Mayor Toni Harp to take action.

Mayor Harp sent the following statement to FOX 61:

“Chief Esserman remains chief; in his absence, day-to-day command of the department falls to Assistant Chief Anthony Campbell. There has been no interruption in public safety services, nor will there be as a result of the chief’s extended leave – the safety and security of residents, property owners, students, and those doing business in the city remains my priority,” Mayor Toni N. Harp said. “The chief has broken no laws to my knowledge, and has committed no dismissible offense. Whether or not he returns to duty – and when – is largely up to him. In the meanwhile, we’ll do all we can to extend across-the-board, steadily decreasing crime rates of the past five years – which coincide with Chief Esserman’s tenure.”

The chief remains on an extended leave of absence, which is now "temporary sick leave" after he was set to return from his paid absence this week but didn't. Request for comment were not returned.

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