John Klett, deputy police chief since 2009, will be the department's chief and Lt. Christopher Ciuci will be the new deputy chief, police commission Chairman Robert Peters said Monday.
The two career Berlin officers were promoted by the commission in a 5-0 vote at a special meeting Saturday morning. Both start their new positions Oct. 18, the day current Chief Paul Fitzgerald retires after 14 years leading the 42-officer department and retiring as a captain from the state police.
Klett and Ciuci were the only internal candidates for the chief's post. Both were interviewed earlier this month by the commission. The only other eligible candidate, Lt. James Gosselin, decided not to seek the post.
"I think we have excellent leaders for the department," Peters said. A special police commission meeting will be held at 8 a.m. Thursday to discuss salary and benefits for both new leaders.
According to the current town budget, the chief's salary is $120,703 and the deputy's salary is $112,520.
Klett is the son of longtime Newington police Sgt. John Klett and nephew of Newington's former chief, Richard Klett. Other relatives are currently in Connecticut law enforcement and in the New York City fire department, he said.
"I learned something from everyone I've worked with in the department," Klett, 58, said Monday. "I wouldn't be here without that. We have a good department. I'm proud to be part of it. It's more like a family than a corporation. Like a family, we have some spats sometimes."
One of those disagreements arose during the chief search when Gosselin sent the police commission a letter alleging that Klett was verbally abusive to officers and others. The commission hired an outside attorney to look into the allegations and reviewed that report Saturday.
Peters said the investigating attorney interviewed people cited in the accusation.
"Half of the people couldn't even remember the incidents alleged in the letter" while the others were not overly concerned about any interaction they'd had with Klett, Peters said. The commission decided that Klett should receive sensitivity training.
"It didn't rise to us taking any further action," Peters said.
Peters noted that someone is sending anonymous letters to the commission and town officials alleging misconduct in the department. He said sending unsigned letters is a "cowardly act."
"If someone has a complaint, sign your name so we can meet and talk. We're not going to respond to some nameless letter," he said.
Ciuci, 46, a Berlin police officer for 23 years, said he was honored to be selected.
"This is a terrific police department with a great staff and the best officers in my years here," he said. "I'm pleased to continue serving such a fine group of officers in a new position."