Danbury Police Chief Al Baker will serve his final day at the head of the Danbury Police Department on Monday, handing over the reins to Chief Patrick Ridenhour. Ridenhour, a 28-year law enforcement veteran, comes to Danbury from Stratford.
Baker is retiring after 42 years in law enforcement and 11 years with Danbury Police, to move back to Wisconsin. His wife retired last year, and he says they are looking forward to spending more time with their grandchildren.
He has led Danbury Police through a period of transition, including into a new building and to civilian dispatching. Baker says he's gotten a lot of support from Danbury government and from the Department to make these changes. The ultimate goal of civilian dispatching was to put more officers back on the roads. Officers go through nearly a year of training, so Baker says they would rather put that to use on the streets rather than answering telephones.
Baker says he's particularly proud of Danbury being named one of the safest cities in Connecticut. He also touted recent arrests in cold cases, which he says speaks to the perseverance of Danbury officers. Baker says he's proud of the community support and public trust that the department enjoys. He notes that law enforcement doesn't seem to have the same level of respect as it did even five years ago, but despite that the officers still work hard. In Danbury, Baker says the Department enjoys the support of the community, and notes that the officers work hard to safeguard that every day.
The Chief says members of the Department are hard workers, and very honorable people who do some very good things with very limited resources. Baker says he's grateful for support from City officials and taxpayers for the latest technology in order to better serve the community.
Baker says the issues and the problems police see are universal. In the past decade, technology has changed significantly. There's a new computer system in place, which is used by most departments in the state. They also don't use paper anymore, all reports are done on the computer. Officers are also using cell phones a lot more.
On his last day, Ridenhour's first day, the Danbury Police Department is set to go through Tier 1 Accreditation. It's a project that's been in the works for about a decade. Baker says this will provide a systematic review of methods, policies and procedures to help Danbury become a better police department.
He's met regularly with Ridenhour and expects a smooth transition next week. Baker thinks Ridenhour will fit in well because he is familiar with Connecticut policing and is attuned to the issues in Danbury. But Baker has a list of items to go over with Ridenhour. The new Chief will be updated on the current status of projects and personnel matters so he will be fully informed when he takes the helm.
Negotiations of a union contract will be in the hands of the next Chief.