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Putting an end to months of speculation, Clinton Police Chief Vincent DeMaio officially accepted a new contract with the town on Feb 11. DeMaio had been working without a contract since June 30, 2019.
The Town Council held a lengthy executive session on Feb. 5, after which it unanimously voted to authorize Town Manager Karl Kilduff to execute a contract offer to DeMaio. On Feb. 10, the Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) met to review the Town Council-approved contract. DeMaio officially signed the contract the next afternoon.
The new contract is for a length of seven years. Under the new contract, DeMaio will see his wage increase from $121,087 to $130,000 effective July 1, 2020. His salary will rise again to $135,000 in July 2021, and to $140,000 in July 2022. According to Kilduff, effective July 1, 2023, DeMaio’s salary will “be adjusted based on a recommendation from the police commission to the town manager in a range of one- to three percent.”
Kilduff acknowledged that DeMaio has been compensated below the market value for the position. For reference, Madison Chief of Police Jack Drumm’s 2019 pay was budgeted at $159,800 for a department with 27 full-time sworn officers; in Old Saybrook, Chief of Police Services Michael Spera’s 2019 pay was budgeted at $154,928, rising to $159,632 in 2020, for a department with 23 full-time sworn officers. Clinton has a department of 27 officers.
“I’m very, very happy and I’d like to thank the police commission, the Town Council, and the community for their support,” DeMaio told the Harbor News.
“Chief DeMaio has done a great job leading the Clinton Police Department and bringing about a number of positive changes which have benefited this community. He was the right choice for the needs of the department when he was originally appointed and he continues to provide the right direction for the department,” said Kilduff.
The negotiations for a new contract had been a point of contention in the past year between Town Hall and the police chief. In October 2019, DeMaio rejected a new contract offer from the Board of Selectmen and voiced his displeasure at the way the negotiations had been handled. The contract DeMaio rejected had been for a salary of $130,000 and a term of three years. There was a mutual clause to extend the contract by one year.
Particularly, DeMaio said “substantial alterations” had been made to a contract the police commission had approved the previous August. BOPC Chair Peter Niles said that the offer the Town Council approved this month was closer to the draft the commission had approved in August. Niles also called the previous negotiation process “frustrating.”
When DeMaio rejected the offer in the fall, there were only three weeks left in the term of the Board of Selectmen before the town underwent a change in government structure in late November. Due to this change and the uncertainty that came with it, the negotiations were put on the back burner and didn’t resume until Kilduff was hired in early January.
Niles said that Town Council Chair Chis Aniskovich had told him that resolving the chief’s contract was a focus of his, and that Kilduff was also supportive of the idea.
“I really have to hand it to those two guys. I think the community is going to be really happy,” Niles said.
News of DeMaio’s contract resolution stalling in the fall inspired intense public reaction in the community, especially with comments on social media where the vast majority were comments supporting DeMaio and urging the town to find a way to keep him.
Past frustrations aside, DeMaio said that the latest round of contract negotiations went quickly and “extremely smoothly.”
“I think the contract is fair and equitable for both sides,” said DeMaio. “I greatly appreciated the support from the community and it makes you feel good. We have a lot of work to do and I’m excited to get to work.
Niles said that DeMaio has worked hard to be held in high regard with the public.
“He’s changed whole department around, I think there’s a great fit between him and our town,” Niles said.
With his contract situation resolved, DeMaio said the department is focusing on updating its polices, procedures, and accreditations to comply with mandates from the state.
“I think it will help raise the bar of performance delivery,” DeMaio said.
DeMaio was hired in Clinton in 2016 after a 26-year career with the New Canaan police force.
“I’m excited to be here, there’s a lot of things going on with development, which will bring new people and new businesses to town,” DeMaio said.
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