By Matt Sheley, Town of Middletown
The Town of Middletown is saying “Goodbye” to one police chief and welcoming back another.
Late last month, Police Chief William Kewer informed the town he wanted to go in a different direction with his career and would not renew his contract when it expired.
Kewer — who’s served the last four years as Middletown’s top cop — said he enjoyed his stay in Middletown, getting to know the community, its people and businesses, but the time was right to move on.
Following an executive session meeting Tuesday night in Town Hall, it was announced retired Police Chief Anthony Pesare will return to his old job on Monday, Feb. 13. Currently, Pesare acts as an assistant solicitor and prosecuting attorney for Middletown.
“The department was just re-certified by (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) and that was a major step for us,” Kewer said. “We accomplished a lot in my time and that’s all because of the men and women who work here and the town itself. Looking back at things, I feel it’s a perfect time for me personally to pursue new opportunities and leave the department when it’s in a really good place.”
“Bill has been invaluable to the department and the people of Middletown,” council President Paul M. Rodrigues said. “He guided us through a particularly tough stretch with COVID and I think he was always a source of strength for our town. When the Chief spoke, everyone listened because he not only talked the talk, he walked the walk. I’m going to miss him and we have very big shoes to fill.”
A Taunton, Massachusetts native, Kewer was appointed as police chief in February 2019. Before that, he was a decorated member of the Connecticut State Police. That included time as a resident state trooper, K-9 officer and deputy director of the state’s intelligence center before retiring as the department’s second in command.
His time here did nothing but enhance a 30-year plus resume in law enforcement filled with accolades, service and respect.
Known for his energy and enthusiasm, Kewer built strong relationships with a diverse group of Middletown, everyone from veterans to the schools, other law enforcement agencies and everyday residents.
Under Kewer’s watch, the Middletown Police have redoubled their efforts with speeders and motor vehicle violations, which he cited as the No. 1 issue in town when he took the job.
He also helped transfer some of the force’s fleet from gasoline to hybrid vehicles, update equipment across the board and oversee the pending roll out of body cameras for all officers.
Kewer’s department also reached out even further into the community through toy drives, get to know an officer events and other efforts to make the Middletown Police more accessible to all.
“I’m really proud of what we accomplished here,” Kewer said. “I think back to one day, last October around Halloween when we has an outreach event here at the police station. There was shaved ice and demonstrations and there were literally hundreds of kids here, having a good time, smiling and interacting with us and our fire department. That’s what it’s all about as a police officer, becoming part of the community.”
“One thing I always admired about the Chief is how he was so approachable,” Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said. “His career in law enforcement is impeccable and he brought a wealth of experience and knowledge with him from the first day he walked in the door. We were fortunate to have the Chief for as long as we did and I know I speak for everyone when I say that he’s going to be missed.”
After learning of Kewer’s pending departure, a conversation between Pesare and the town arose. Through that dialogue, it was learned there was mutual interest in having Pesare back and the details were finalized in recent days.
“There are a couple absolutely vital positions in town that we have to get right and the police chief is one of them,” Brown said. “The council leadership has directed me and my staff to find the right person to be the next chief of the Middletown Police Department, not the first person, but we happen to have both right here with Chief Pesare.”
Rodrigues and Brown also thanked Pesare for again stepping in and assisting the department — and Middletown as a whole. Pesare retired at the end of 2018 after a decorated 38 year career in law enforcement, the last 18 as the head of Middletown Police.
“Tony remains very involved with the town and the Police Department through his solicitor’s work,” Brown said. “Everyone knows the department is in very capable hands and there will be no loss of service or experience under Tony’s leadership. We appreciate everything Bill has done for us and the department and also look forward to having Tony back. It’s an important day for Middletown Police, both looking to our past and our future.”