Wethersfield police chief gets dismissal notice; hearing likely next week

·2 min read

Town Manager Gary Evans has notified longtime Police Chief James Cetran of the town’s intent to fire him.

Cetran, chief for 18 years and a member of the department for 47 years, will face a termination hearing before the town council tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, according to an email notice Evans sent to Cetran Wednesday.

According to the notice, the town plans to fire Cetran for violating his agreement to retire at the end of August. Cetran announced his plans to retire in January, after being put on paid leave by Evans for two months.

According to Cetran’s attorney, Rachel Baird, the chief was sidelined for insubordination because he declined to violate the terms of the department’s collective bargaining agreement related to an internal investigation over whether two sergeants had “abused time.”

According to the email, the town relied on Cetran’s retirement agreement to initiate a nationwide search for a new chief and in May had asked for his input when it hired a firm to conduct the search.

Later that day, according to the town, Cetran notified Evans by email that he was no longer going to retire and that he looked forward to continuing to serve as the police chief of Wethersfield.

Baird has said that her client’s decision to rescind his retirement was based on misrepresentations and information withheld by Evans, and that Cetran believed that Evans had no plans to let him continue to lead the department or participate in the hiring of a successor.

Baird said Cetran has never waived his right to change his mind.

According to the notice, the town would not have brought Cetran back from his suspension without his agreement to retire, that his conduct demonstrates incompetence in the performance of his duties and that it is hindering the town’s ability to find a successor.

On Thursday Baird filed a complaint in New Britain Superior Court, seeking a declaratory judgement that Cetran did not violate his agreement with the town and a temporary injunction preventing the town from holding the termination hearing in five days.

Mayor Micheal Rell was not immediately available for comment Thursday

Steven Goode can be reached at sgoode@courant.com.