By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Police Chief Steven Hunt has stepped down from the top position of the Naugatuck Police Department. His last day was on New Year’s Eve.
Hunt, 48, whose contract doesn’t expire until June 30, said he felt it was a good time to step aside.
“I thought it was a good time for a transition,” Hunt said. “I’m taking some time off.”
Hunt is married to Hillside Intermediate School Principal Johnna Hunt and they have three daughters. He said he’s sure he will be back at the workforce at some point and isn’t ruling anything out.
Hunt, a Naugatuck native, has spent 27 years in law enforcement holding various positions including Naugatuck Police Chief for just about three years, captain in charge of patrol division for five years, lieutenant for four years, detective sergeant and patrol sergeant, each for two years, a detective for five years and a patrolman for one year. He was also a Waterbury police officer for six years before settling in the borough. The only rank he never held was deputy police chief, he added.
“During his tenure, regardless of his level, he’s been extremely dedicated to Naugatuck,” said Deputy Police Chief Colin McAllister, who began as interim chief on Jan. 1.
Hunt’s family is no stranger to law enforcement as well. His father Thomas Hunt, served in the Naugatuck Police Department from 1965 to 2010, retiring as deputy chief.
Hunt’s two brothers followed in the same footsteps as well. Ronald Hunt retired from the Naugatuck Police Department after 22 years with the rank of detective lieutenant. Tom Hunt started his career as a correctional officer and became the director of the Community Release Unit at the state Department of Correction. He retired about two years ago.
Hunt said he accomplished one of his goals by connecting the police department with the community.
“I think we made our department more community oriented,” Hunt said.
Hunt pointed to the department starting the coffee with the cops initiative. Coffee with a Cop is a national community policing program designed to increase interaction with police and the community outside of the typical situations that law enforcement officers respond to within the community. The program has been on pause since early 2020 due to the pandemic.
“He’s increased community engagement,” McAllister said.
Another example is when the department brought a black Labrador K-9 into its ranks. Indy began as the department’s new service K-9 in Sept. 2020.
Hunt said the department updated policies to make sure it was in compliance with the new police accountability laws that took effect. Some of those new policies focused on new use of force standards and implementing a social worker to work along with officers. The department has purchased dash cameras for every police cruiser and already has body cameras for every officer.
Hunt said he is going to miss being the police chief.
“I just think that throughout my career, the people I met in town were phenomenal,” Hunt said. “I’m going to miss the people that I worked with.”
“He was very proud of Naugatuck and the community and ultimately the department.” McAllister said.
Hunt said although he is leaving his position, the borough has a good police department with talented officers.
“The police department is in good hands and they will continue to move forward,” Hunt said.
“We wish him the best in his future endeavors,” McAllister said.
Last year Hunt and his wife came under fire after controversial comments made online by their then-13-year-old daughter came to light. Hunt was cleared of any responsibility after an investigation.
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said he wishes Hunt the very best in his future endeavors and will thrive wherever he chooses to go.
“He’s very smart,” Hess said. “He had creative and innovative solutions for all problems presented to him.”
Borough officials are going to discuss a permanent replacement for the position at the Police Commission meeting in March. There is a strong command team in place, said Hess.
“There’s no urgency,” Hess said. “We’re going to proceed at our own pace and when the time is right we’re going to make a decision.”
McAllister said he would like to seek his interim chief position permanently moving ahead.
Hess said its officials’ preference that the job position remains internal.