Shelton police chief honored by state NAACP for second time

SHELTON - The hallway leading to the chief’s office at police headquarters is lined with photos of the city’s past top cops.

Shawn Sequeira said he takes pride knowing he has earned a place on that wall, and in the process brought a more diverse look to a force that had never had a Black chief until his appointment seven years ago.

“Being here just shows what I have worked hard for, what I have accomplished,” Sequeira said as he looked over the portraits of past Shelton police chiefs. “Now there’s diversity among these faces. The world’s changing.”

And Sequeira’s efforts in Shelton have not gone unnoticed. He was recently named one of the 2021 NAACP State of Connecticut 100 Most Influential Blacks in the State recipients - his second such recognition since being named chief.

“Leading as a Black person in Connecticut is always challenging, but our current climate highlights the need for all the recipients to be recognized, affirmed and honored,” said Scott X. Esdaile, president of the CT State Conference of NAACP Branches.

“Chief Sequeira has been a leader in law enforcement in Shelton and across the state over the years and we are glad to recognize him for his outstanding service,” he added.

Esdaile said this year’s recipients include presidents of universities and hospitals, along with some of the highest-ranking officials in the local, state and federal government. The event will be Oct. 23 at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

“The NAACP has fought very hard for 112 years to break down barriers for many of these individuals to have the opportunity to serve in these capacities,” Esdaile said, “We feel it is imperative to reflect on how far we have come as a people.”

Mayor Mark Lauretti, who hired Sequeira, said he chose him for his leadership and the high standards to which he holds the department.

“You hire for qualifications,” Lauretti said. “We needed someone who understood policing and had structure.”

Sequeira said he prided himself on his executive leadership and doing the job to the best of his abilities.

“Do I recognize, coming here, that I was the only person of color to hold this job? Of course. But that has nothing to do with my desire to do the best job possible,” he said. “Am I honored being the first chief of color in Shelton? How can I not be? How can you not recognize that this is something special?”

Sequeira began his career in 2001, working for the state Department of Children and Families. In 2006, he joined the State Police, where he spent 10 years.

The majority of this time he served as a State Police detective with the Central District Major Crime Squad. While serving in the unit he investigated a variety of criminal matters across the state, including bank robberies, financial crimes, homicides, arsons and sexual assaults.

Some of the major cases he investigated included the Sandy Hook school shootings; the 2009 murder of Annie Le; the Hartford Distributors mass shooting; and the Kleen Energy explosion in Middletown.

While in Shelton, Sequeira said his proudest accomplishments included the city being recognized as one of the 10 safest in state based on FBI crime statistics and population data for the past few years.

Within his first year as chief, Sequeira spearheaded the department earning state accreditation from the Police Officer Standards and Training Council. The department recently received its re-accreditation.

In addition to his police work, for the past 10 years Sequeira has been a certified police instructor and has served as an adjunct professor at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven and Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport and has worked with universities, colleges, professors and students teaching courses in criminal investigation, crime scene processing, and interview and interrogation.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com