Saybrook has 1 police chief applicant

Thursday, July 9, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

OLD SAYBROOK — Deputy Police Chief Michael Spera is the only applicant for the position of police chief, which will become open in October with the retirement of Chief Edmund Mosca.

Spera, 34, has been in charge of the daily operations of the Police Department since May, when Mosca announced his retirement and began using up accumulated sick and vacation days.

Last month, the Police Commission decided to look inside the department for a new chief, Chairwoman Christina Burnham said. If the candidate for the position does not fit the commission’s requirements, the town would then do an outside search, she said.

“We needed to see if we had a qualified candidate who met all of the requirements that we developed for the position before we spent money looking outside,” Burnham said.

Letters of interest from internal candidates were due last week. The commission is scheduled to hold a special meeting Monday, when it could vote on the appointment.

The department has been the source of controversy for two years as state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal investigated a fund that Mosca controlled and used for several purposes, including support for state and national police chief meetings, golf tournaments, conferences and local youth activities. Blumenthal found that Mosca had improperly used the McMurray-Kirtland Memorial Fund for 25 years, and required him to repay $22,500.

Blumenthal told the town to reorganize the fund, and his office is continuing to investigate the disbursement of $64,000 into it. A bequest left to the “Old Saybrook Policemen’s Benevolent Association,” which does not exist, was given to the fund rather than to the Old Saybrook Policemen’s Brotherhood Association, which later became the police officers’ union.

Blumenthal said Wednesday that the investigation is continuing, and he could not say whether there was a timeline for its completion. He said that no one within the Police Department is a target of the investigation.

Police Commissioner Richard Metsack said he would have preferred to do an external search for the police chief position, saying that it could have drawn more candidates with a range of experience.

“I’m adamantly against staying in town (to conduct the search),” he said. “I wanted to go out of town.”

The commission’s criteria for the job include a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field related to law enforcement or public administration, although the job summary states that “an equivalent combination of education and experience which indicates possession of the knowledge, skills, and other characteristics necessary for appointment may be substituted.”

Spera earned a Bachelor of Science degree in public safety administration from Charter Oak State College in May. He has also attended the FBI National Academy, a 10-week course for leaders of law enforcement agencies.

The qualifications for the police chief position also include 10 years of experience in law enforcement, with five years at the rank of sergeant or higher preferred and at least three years of experience as a shift supervisor required.

Spera was the only applicant last year for deputy chief when the Police Commission reinstated the position after four years with no deputy chief in the department. A town native, he started in the department as a dispatcher when he was 18 and became an officer when he was 21. He earns about $92,500.

He said he agreed with the process the Police Commission had chosen for the search.

“Just because I’m the only applicant does not mean that I’m getting the job,” he said. “That said, I do believe in promoting from within when you’re able to do that. I think it shows the personnel that if they work hard and they have goals that they can achieve them within their agency.”

Spera said he believed he meets the qualifications for the police chief position.

“Over the last year and a couple months as deputy chief, we’ve been able to make great strides with the members of our agency working really hard (and) building up on the legacy that Chief Mosca left us,” he said.

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