RIDGEFIELD Police chief retires
RIDGEFIELD — The town’s longtime police chief, who has been on medical leave for the past two months, has announced he will step down from the department.
Chief John Roche submitted his letter of resignation to the town Friday and it will be formally accepted by the Police Commission during a meeting Wednesday, Chairman Charles Knoche said.
Roche, who was chief for 10 years, had been dealing with medical issues and had given Major Steve Brown, the next in command, authority to run the department. Brown will continue to lead until a replacement is found, Knoche said.
He added that since the announcement he has had both residents and officials reach out to him asking to wish Roche well and saying how much they will miss him as chief.
“We couldn’t have had a better leader,” Knoche said. “All the men and women in the department respected him highly as did other public officials in town. We’ll miss him dearly.”
Knoche said Roche has “sounded very strong” when he has talked to him on the phone recently and that he is doing OK. But, he added that Roche thought it’d be best for the town and department if he retired as his medical issues might continue “a little while longer.”
“It just came to be the right time,” Knoche said.
In his decade-long reign as chief, Roche was easygoing and fair with his officers, but stern when he needed to be, Knoche said. He spearheaded a number of improvements in the department, including upgrades to online communication, the front offices and various training initiatives.
“The chief has served this town very well,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi. “We appreciate his dedication over the years keeping our community safe.”
Before stepping in as chief, Roche had worked with the department in other roles for 28 years. Knoche even recalls a colleague saying when Roche started as a young officer, “John’s going to be chief some day,” because of his high marks.
“He always tested so well and is extremely knowledgeable,” Knoche said. “His family has been in police work and he is a really dedicated policeman. With all of his testing and climbing the ranks, he was always right on spot with his answers.”
The Police Commission will likely discuss the search process at its next meeting, Knoche said.
Roche’s position is the latest police chief opening in the area. New Milford is searching for a replacement for Chief Shawn Boyne, whose contract will not be renewed when it expires in October. Redding recently chose Capt. Mark O’Donnell, who was serving as an interim chief, to replace Chief Doug Fuchs, who resigned in June.
Knoche said Ridgefield can either look internally for a replacement or begin an external candidate search. The decision for which process to pursue will ultimately be up to all commission members, he added, but Knoche said both he and Roche feel there might be viable candidates already within the department.
“We have very good people there,” Knoche said. “(Roche) said, ‘Charlie, I have full faith in them.’ ”