Bradford to retire as public safety commissioner

Reuben F. Bradford, a former state trooper and NFL security director who is Connecticut’s first black public-safety chief, will retire Feb. 1 as commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection, the agency that includes the Connecticut State Police.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office announced Bradford’s plans Thursday.

Bradford, 67, returned to a demanding job in state service at the outset of the Malloy administration in early 2011, despite a neurological disorder, ataxia, that affects motor control and sometimes leaves him unsteady on his feet, especially when fatigued.

“Commissioner Bradford did an exceptional job of leading the state’s first responders through a period where they were tested time and time again,” Malloy said. “Through five presidential emergency declarations and unspeakable tragedy, he worked with the dedicated men and women at the department to make sure that residents received assistance often during their darkest hours. He also led the department through administrative changes that were both necessary and long overdue. I want to thank him for his service, and wish him well on his retirement.”

Bradford had to cope with a crime lab that had lost its national accreditation. Its credential was restored and its backlog nearly eliminated, Malloy said. During his tenure, the state Department of Homeland Security was merged with the Department of Public Safety.

Other consolidations and efficiencies caused friction with the rank-and-file, perhaps none more than the consolidation of dispatch centers that returned some troopers to road duty. In June 2012, the Connecticut State Police Union announced a no-confidence vote against Bradford and the department’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, Col. Danny R. Stebbins.

“I just want to be very clear: I have the highest regard for the commissioner and the colonel. I think they are doing an absolutely outstanding job, and they have my confidence,” Malloy said at the time.

The union said there were 752 votes of no confidence against Bradford and 760 against Stebbins. Of the 1,016 unionized troopers, sergeants and master sergeants, 794 ballots were validated and counted.

“Working at the department has presented many challenges, but the underlying work ethic of the people who make up this critically important agency made the task at hand worthwhile,” Bradford said.  “While we have accomplished much, there is much more to be done. I want to thank the governor for giving me the opportunity to once again serve the people of Connecticut.”

In his retirement letter, Bradford urged the retention of his two top deputies, Stebbins and William Shea. The latter is oversees emergency management and homeland security, one of six divisions within the department. Bradford also made a pitch for Malloy to consider Steven Spellman, a lawyer who was his chief of staff, for a judgeship.

Bradford urged the governor to proceed with recruiting classes for troopers and dispatchers, noting that about 300 troopers are expected to retire in 2014.

The merged department is composed of six divisions: State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Statewide Emergency Telecommunications, Scientific Services, Police Officer Standards and Training Council and the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, which includes the Connecticut Fire Academy.

 

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