Shelton police chief’s contract renewed for a year

The contract of police Chief Joel Hurliman has been extended for another year.

Hurliman said he looks forward to continuing to lead the Shelton Police Department, which has 54 sworn officers, including himself.

“I like doing my job,” he said. “There are unfinished projects at the department, and I don’t like to leave things undone.”

Hurliman said the other people working in the department also serve to motivate him to remain on the job. “One reason I agreed to stay are the officers and staff — they do their jobs well,” he said.

Involved in many facets

The department’s size — not being really big or small — allows him to remain involved in many facets of police work, Hurliman said.

“It’s not a huge department, so I get to do more police work than if it was a real big department,” he said. “That keeps you active.”

Hurliman, 57, has been chief since March 2006. He began working at the department as a supernumerary (an extra) before becoming a regular officer in 1980.

“It’s an honor and privilege to serve the city as police chief,” he said.

Chief is called ‘responsive’

Mayor Mark Lauretti, who gets to appoint the police chief, said Hurliman is doing a good job.

“He’s absolutely involved in the city and has his ear to the ground,” Lauretti said. “He is responsive to the public, and has made upgrades with technology. He has a commonsense mind-set and a calm demeanor.”

Lauretti said Hurliman knows Shelton well because of his personal background and many years at the department. “He understands the town as well as anyone, having grown up here,” Lauretti said.

Department challenges

The past few years have presented many challenges for the department, including major hurricanes and snowstorms. “We’ve put up with more than our share of storms,” Hurliman said.

A particularly difficult moment was the 2010 death of Shelton police Sgt. Orville Smith, who was killed by an intoxicated driver while he was working traffic duty on Route 110. Hurliman noted that Smith was married and a Marine veteran who had served two tours in Vietnam.

Infrastructure improvements at the department during Hurliman’s tenure have included an upgraded dispatch center and radio system.

“The dispatch center now is the nicest room in the entire station,” Hurliman said.

The current radio system now has two receiver/transmitters and two receivers, and he hopes another tower can be added in the near future to further improve intra-department communication abilities.

The future

Hurliman’s current contract includes one more possible extension year, and as of now he is open to the idea of continuing in the position. “I might extend beyond this,” he said of the one-year renewal that goes through March 2014.

He said he could have left after 25 years on the force when it comes to receiving retirement benefits, but there are other factors.

“It’s a calling, not a job,” he said of law enforcement. “If you don’t have it in you, you’ll know right away.”

Hurliman's background

Hurliman was born in Bridgeport and educated in Shelton schools beginning in the first grade. He graduated from Shelton High in 1973.

He was in the Army National Guard for 23 years, and now is a master sergeant in the retired Army Reserves.

Hurliman likes to stay physically fit, and on March 23 will participate in the 5K Sandy Hook Run for the Families in Danbury. Up to 10,000 runners are expected to join the field in the charity event.

Last year, the chief ran in 16 five-kilometer-long races as well as three longer races.