New contract clouds chief’s status

Naugatuck Police Chief Christopher Edson. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — Police Chief Christopher Edson is under contract through March of 2019, but what happens after that remains to be seen.

The borough and Edson have agreed to a new, nine-month deal that started July 1 and ends March 31, 2019. Typically, contracts with unions and borough employees run through the end of a fiscal year. The fiscal year ends on June 30. Edson’s previous contract was a two-year deal that ran from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018.

When asked why the new contract is only for nine months, Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said it gives the borough time to select a new police chief.

“The agreement reflects the views of the entire borough board and the intention of the board to recognize the chief for all of his past efforts and give him an adequate opportunity to move forward while, at the same time, to establish a time table to select a new chief and set a new direction for the town,” Hess said.

Police Commission Chair Stephanie Savoy said she wasn’t sure why the Board of Mayor and Burgesses only approved a nine-month contract. She said Edson hasn’t indicated to the commission that he plans to retire.

According to Connecticut statutes and the borough’s charter, the Police Commission has sole authority over the appointment, promotion and removal of the officers and members of the police department.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses’ responsibility is a financial one, including the approval of contracts, Savoy said.

Savoy said Edson has done a number of positive things for the department, including making the department one of the first in the state to have body cameras for officers and achieving tier three accreditation, the highest tier, from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.

“I think the chief has done an incredible job. He has transformed the department to the point where we are attracting the best and brightest officers in the state,” Savoy said. “We are fortunate to have had him as long as we have.”

In an email, Edson confirmed he hasn’t submitted any intention to retire to the Police Commission or the borough.

In a response to messages and an email seeking comments on his contract, Edson stated in an email, “Those were the terms that were offered to me and I accepted them. I am very proud of the men and women of the Naugatuck Police Department for their professionalism and dedication to the citizens of this community. I will continue to lead this organization as the chief of police for as long as the Borough of Naugatuck desires my service.”

Edson was hired as chief in 2007. At the time, the Police Commission unanimously approved the hire. Before taking the chief position, Edson was a captain in the Milford Police Department.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved the new, nine-month contract early this month. Burgess Jack DeOliveira was the only member to vote against it because he didn’t approve of the raise Edson received under the deal.

Under the contract, Edson received a 2 percent raise this fiscal year, bringing his salary to $117,120. The contract also offers Edson a high deductible health plan with an annual $2,000/$4,000 deductible.

Under the contract, Edson also receives a “suitable vehicle” for business and personal use, equipment and uniforms, and reimbursement for reasonable expenses associated with training and professional development.

Edson is also able to take part in the borough’s police pension plan, according to the contract. He became eligible for a pension during the last contract.