Malloy names first woman to oversee public safety in Connecticut

Dora B. Schriro, who was named Monday as the first woman to oversee the Connecticut State Police and other state public-safety functions, has a national profile as the New York City correction commissioner and a former special adviser to the U.S. secretary of homeland security.

Schriro, 63, who has a law degree and a doctorate in education, is the only person to previously lead the correction systems of two states and two municipalities, twice as the first woman. As an adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Schriro recommended sweeping reforms in the immigration detention system.

“The doctor is immensely qualified and has proven herself to be an exceptional leader across the country,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who introduced his nominee at a noon news conference at the State Capitol. Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the General Assembly.

An appointee of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Schriro currently is the commissioner of correction for New York City, a post she has held in St. Louis and in the state prison systems of Missouri and Arizona.

As the commissioner of emergency services and public protection in Connecticut, Schriro will be a civilian who oversees 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.

The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, which noted it has criticized the state police for what what it called a “historically poor track record when it comes to the promotion and retention of women to leadership positions,” praised the choice.

“We welcome the appointment of Dora Schriro to this critical and highly visible appointment, and we look forward to working with her on policies and procedures that will help remedy gender inequity among the DESPP’s ranks and leadership,” said Teresa Younger, the group’s executive director.

About 10 percent of the department’s troopers are women.

Malloy said Schriro, who also was considered for the post of correction commissioner last fall, was the only candidate he interviewed for the public-safety position. Malloy ultimately named his interim commissioner, James E. Dzurenda, to the correction job in November.

“I have to tell you my conversation with the doctor was one of the most fascinating interviews I ever had,” Malloy said.

She succeeds Reuben Bradford, 67, a former high-ranking trooper and NFL security official, who retires Feb. 1 after three years as Malloy’s first public-safety commissioner. Schriro will be paid $178,000.

“I can’t wait to begin,” she said.

Sgt. Andrew Matthews, the president of the Connecticut State Police Union, which clashed with Bradford over the consolidation of state police dispatch centers and other issues, said the union welcomed her appointment and viewed her as well qualified.

“It sounds like she has a great resume, and we’re just encouraged,” said Matthews, who introduced himself to Schriro after the news conference. “We look forward to working with her. We’re going to help her succeed. That’s our goal.”

Many of Schriro’s predecessors had experience as sworn police officers or judicial officials, but Matthews said he had no concerns about Schriro’s lack of direct experience in police work, saying the commissioner’s background in public policy and administration were appropriate.

“We’re not concerned about that at all,” Matthews said.

Schriro, who had 10,000 employees in New York, said she is no stranger to leading paramilitary organizations as a correction commissioner. “That’s a field where I served quite successfully all my career,” she said.

She said she viewed interaction among law enforcement agencies as a key to success. Her audience included Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane and other law enforcement officials.

“I believe that as people get to know me and as I get to know them, we will develop some really exceptionally fine working relationships,” Schriro said.

Malloy said the department’s two key deputies, Col. Danny Stebbins and William Shea, will remain in their posts. Stebbins is the top officer of the state police, and Shea oversees emergency management and homeland security.

Schriro, who grew up on Staten Island, N.Y., said she knew in high school she wanted a career in public service. In brief remarks, she called her appointment a “great honor and exceptional opportunity.”

She has a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University, a master’s from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, a doctorate from Columbia University and a law degree from St. Louis University.

 

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