Malloy names state’s first black public safety chief

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy today named Reuben F. Bradford of Glastonbury, the NFL’s senior director of security and a retired state police major, as Connecticut’s first African-American commissioner of public safety.

Bradford, 64, retired from the police in 1996 after a 22-year career that saw him rise through the ranks from trooper to major, with assignments that included commanding a barracks, two regional districts, the training academy and being the chief of staff.

“He has a great understanding of the needs of the department, has been an insider and an outsider and is prepared I think to be an extraordinary commissioner for this department,” Malloy said at a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Malloy Bradford

Dan Malloy and his public safety commissioner, Reuben Bradford.

Bradford said Malloy was offering him a rare opportunity to end his career where it began.

“It’s not often that you get a chance to come full circle,” Bradford said. “It is truly an honor.”

Bradford, who has been with the NFL for nearly 15 years, will not join the Malloy administration until after the football season concludes. Public Safety Commissioner James Thomas has agreed to remain in office until Bradford is available, Bradford said.

The commissioner of public safety is a civilian post with responsibility for the state police, the state crime lab, the state fire marshal’s office and state building inspector.

Bradford will assume command of an agency that was the subject of a scathing investigative report in December 2006 about shortcomings in its internal affairs division. Its crime lab suffered from a backlog that drew Malloy’s attention during his campaign.

A year ago, the lab had more than 10,000 DNA samples from convicted criminals that had yet to be processed and entered into the DNA registry, but the administration of Gov. M. Jodi Rell says all the samples have been entered since the state used $1 million in federal stimulus money to hire forensic examiners. The lab still has a smaller backlog of DNA investigation for open criminal cases.

In March 2008, Gov. M. Jodi Rell said that all pending internal affairs investigations referenced in the 2006 report had been completed.

“The Department of Public Safety is on the right track in transforming the internal affairs process,” Rell said.  “We want the State Police Internal Affairs unit to be a model for the rest of the nation in promoting integrity within the department, and I am pleased with the progress that is being made.”

At various times, the state police also have been subject to allegations of racial discrimination. Asked if he ever had faced discrimination in his state police career, Bradford replied without hesitation, “Yes, but it was overcome.” He did not elaborate.

“I’ve selected someone who I think will make the department sharp and glow. He will not be subject to political pressures from my office. I was very clear,” Malloy said.

Asked about the best and worst elements of the department’s culture, Bradford said the ethic of public service was the best. “I really can’t come up with a worst-case scenario,” he said.

As the security chief for the NFL, Bradford traveled widely, helping to coordinated security for major events such as the Super Bowl. He had just flown back for his press conference on a red-flight from meetings in Hawaii.

Bradford has a neurological disorder, ataxia, that affects motor control and sometimes leaves him unsteady on his feet, especially when fatigued. He mentioned the disorder during the press conference. In some people, ataxia also can affect speech.

The return to public service will cost him a significant pay cut, but it will keep him close to family in Connecticut. He is married and the father of three.

Bradford is Malloy’s fourth major appointment. He is the governor-elect’s first minority appointment.

He previously has named Timothy Bannon as chief of staff, Ben Barnes as budget chief, and state Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz as commissioner of the Department of Children and Families. Other appointments are expected this week and next, but Malloy has ordered a national search to fill other jobs.