Police chief, deputy chief both retiring

Police Chief Thomas Kiely has a photo of his grandfather that sits across from him in his office. Every time someone comments on the photo he mentions that his grandfather served for 40 years with the Bridgeport Police Department.

Recently, Chief Kiely had a startling realization that made him look at the photo a little differently.

“This year I was doing the budget and it struck me, I’ve been here 40 years,” Kiely said. “It was never a goal. It just kind of snuck up on me.”

Kiely, 63, has held the post of chief for 10 years. He confirmed recently his plans to retire. He will be staying for the next few months, with a goal to finish out the year.

He is one of many longtime officers and leaders at the department who are due to retire.

Deputy Chief Michael Harry, who will have served 41 years in September, will also be retiring later this year. His official retirement date is Dec. 19.

“When you’ve spent more time here than some of the guys we are hiring have been alive, it’s time to leave,” Harry joked.

Deputy Chief Harry is the most senior member of the department. He started a few months before Chief Kiely, who praised Harry as a great asset to the department throughout his career.

“He’s been a good friend to me over the years,” Kiely said. “He’s loyal and a great person to work with.”

Harry started as a patrol officer in 1973, promoted to patrol sergeant in 1995, and continued to move through the ranks, becoming a lieutenant in 2002, getting assigned to the Detective Bureau in 2003 and then promoted to deputy chief in 2004.

Harry is also a good friend to have, outside of the office, Kiely said.

“He has a pick-up truck,” Kiely joked. “You always need a friend with a pick-up truck.”

Harry also praised Kiely for his work leading the department.

“There is no one that’s better at networking than Chief Kiely,” Harry said. “He’s forged so many bonds with surrounding departments and throughout the state. It’s been a tremendous asset to the our department.”

Both Kiely and Harry have grandchildren and look forward to spending more time with them.

“My wife has a whole list of projects for me to do,” Harry said.

In the past year, several longtime members of the department retired.

“The town grew and the department grew, so many of us started within that 10-year period,” Kiely said.

Both agreed there is much they will miss when they retire, especially those with whom they work.

“I stay active and get involved in the investigations,” Harry said. “But it’s the little things that make the job rewarding, not the big cases.”

The search for a new chief has begun. The Police Commission has authorized the town’s director of labor relations, James Haselkamp, to engage a search firm to look for potential candidates.

Kiely said the department will keep forging ahead without him.

“It’s a good police department and they’ll do fine,” he said. “They’ll keep doing a great job.”