Borough police chief gets new deal

Naugatuck Police Chief Christopher Edson received a new four-year contract on Thursday. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — The borough’s top cop has a new four-year deal.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses unanimously approved a new contract for Police Chief Christopher Edson during a special meeting Thursday night.

Edson became the borough’s chief of police in June 2007 after working 23 years at the Milford Police Department. Since then, he has helped shape the police department and has managed the budget well, Mayor Robert Mezzo said.

“The chief has done a very nice job with his budget in terms of returning hundreds of thousands of dollars in his overtime account, which he’s managed very well. Quite frankly he’s turned our department into a very professional organization, which I can’t say was the case before he got here,” Mezzo said.

Edson replaced Dennis “Ned” Clisham, who was fired in 1989 after allegations that he had assaulted local residents and threatened people’s lives. Clisham fought the decision in court and was reinstated four years later, but similar accusations continued against him.

The new contract includes a raise for Edson.

Before the new contract passed, Edson’s yearly salary was $94,171. With this new contract, Edson’s yearly salary will be $104,000 retroactive to July 1. His salary will increase by roughly $2,000 every year afterward, under the deal, until he makes about $110,000 effective July 1, 2015.

“It’s a little more than we would like to pay him, but not as much as he deserves,” Mezzo said.

Mezzo said that, when comparing Edson’s salary with other similar municipalities, the borough noticed a discrepancy.

According to a comparison of police chief salaries from 42 other similar municipalities in the state provided by Mezzo, the average salary is approximately $114,000. The highest paying municipality in the comparison is Greenwich, which pays its chief approximately $160,000 a year. The lowest is Branford, which pays its police chief $95,000 a year. Before giving Edson a raise, Naugatuck was the lowest paying municipality.

Edson’s new contract contains the same health insurance concessions police union members agreed to in August when their contract was approved. Their premium cost shares will increase from 8 percent to 11.5 percent in the next three years.

The burgesses all expressed their support for Edson.

“He’s done an incredible job. He turned around the whole moral of the department,” San Angelo said. “It goes to show, one man can make a major effect on a town department.”

San Angelo also felt that the pay increase for Edson was warranted.

“If you want qualified people to serve in these top positions, you have to pay them salaries that are reflective of the marketplace,” San Angelo said.

Edson, who has worked in law enforcement for approximately 30 years, said he was looking forward to working with the department and borough for the next four years.

“I’m pleased that the borough has shown confidence in me to continue serving the people of Naugatuck,” Edson said. “I’m pleased I will have another four years to help this department move forward.”