Police chief retires; commission starts search
After a decade of leading the Ridgefield’s Police Department, and some 40 years in law enforcement, Police Chief John Roche has retired to deal with medical issues that have kept him off the job for most of the last couple of months.
“He put in his resignation Friday,” Police Commission chairman Charles Knoche said Monday, Aug. 27. “He’s doing good. I’ve been constantly talking with him and texting with him.”
“We wish him a speedy recovery,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi.
Major Steven Brown, who has run the department with Chief Roche out on medical leave, will continue as the department’s executive officer.
The chief’s focus is on restoring his health, Knoche said.
“He just wants to deal with that at this point, and he doesn’t know what time that’s going to take, for recuperation.” Knoche said. “I think he feels the best thing for his family and the department was to put in his resignation, and we’ll go from there.”
Knoche said Chief Roche had written a general order giving Major Brown full authority to run the department.
The Police Commission planned to meet Wednesday, Aug. 29, to accept a resignation that Chief Roche gave to town Human Resources Director Laurie Fernandez, and formalize Major Brown’s authority.
“We’re going to get together Wednesday morning, quick, for like 15 minutes in executive session just to formally accept his resignation and name Steve acting chief for now, then we’ll see where we go,” Knoche said.
They’ll also set their next meeting, to begin discussing the replacement process.
“We’ve all agreed to meet, probably in the next week, 10 days,” Knoche said.
Knoche said the commission would work with Fernandez to set up a process for replacing Chief Roche.
“Normally, looking for a chief for the police department, the fire department, you do a search,” he said.
“I think people are thinking we’ll just look within, but these are all discussions we’ll have to have at the meeting,” Knoche said.
“We’ve got a lot of good people in the department.”
Marconi said things were in the Police Commission’s hands.
“When your chief retires, it has to be addressed,” he said.
10 years as chief
Roche has headed Ridgefield’s department for 10 years, having taken the reins in September 2008 after the death of former Chief Richard Ligi, with whom he’d worked closely.
Roche — who is from a police family — has been in policing nearly 40 years, most of that time in Ridgefield.
Knoche had high praise for the job Chief Roche has done.
“Excellent,” he said. “A good leader. There was always very good high morale in the department…
“I know he was extremely well liked by the department heads in town, and townspeople, and his own staff — officers of the department.”