WEARE — On Monday night, the board of selectmen will officially appoint a new police chief to run the department, which has been without a permanent leader since May.
John Velleca, a 20-year veteran of the police department in New Haven, Conn., has been hired to replace Chief Gregory Begin, who retired in May. Velleca, who lives in Durham, Conn., left college to began his career with the New Haven Police Department in 1992 and steadily climbed his way up through the ranks.
“I’m actually in college now,” said Velleca, 44.
The new chief’s experience didn’t happen in the classroom but on the streets of New Haven, a tough city that taught him how to face the challenges of being a patrol officer, an investigator and an administrator for the 550-person department. He served as chief of detectives as well as assistant chief before retiring from the force in 2011.
Velleca said what he brings to the officers of the Weare Police Department is “somebody who’s been in their shoes.”
“They need a cop as their chief,” said Velleca. “There’s a lot of frustration up there, but I bring both a fresh perspective and experience.”
Transparency, integrity, honesty and professionalism are what Velleca expect for himself and from those who work under him, but he won’t be coming into Weare with his opinions shaped by news reports or what people tell him about the town.
“I need to see things for myself so that I can determine what needs to be fixed and how to do it,” he said.
Velleca will be moving to New Hampshire soon instead of trying to make a two-hour commute, but isn’t sure what his official start date is. He will be in Weare on Monday evening to meet members of the community and to be officially named chief of police, according to Thomas Clow, chairman of the board of selectmen.
Velleca is “a very forthright person who holds high his scruples and beliefs,” Clow said.
Municipal Resources Inc. was hired in June to conduct the search for a new chief after Begin retired, and vetted more than 50 applicants to narrow the field to the top three, said Clow. The top candidates participated in two interviews in September, and in the end, Velleca had the right mix of experience and temperament to lead Weare’s department, Clow said. The board voted unanimously to hire Valleca.
“He believes in setting an example for the kinds of police officers he wants on his staff,” Clow said. “We think he will help give our police department a turn for the better. We’re confident we made the right choice.”
Velleca’s salary, though not yet final, will be in the $72,000 range, Clow said.
“We still need to negotiate his contract and set a start date, but we’ll be doing that soon.”