BRANFORD — New Chief of Police Jonathan R. Mulhern’s swearing-in ceremony Friday night was pretty much a regional, multi-generational law enforcement celebration.
And that was just the Mulhern family.
“I have high standards. Our agency will have high standards,” Mulhern, who has been acting as chief since April 18, told the crowd overflowing with police officers, family and friends. “Always remember, just do the right thing. These are very simple things ... but they will keep us committed to ethical policing...
“We need each other to be successful in these demanding and challenging times,” Mulhern said.
Mulhern — a third-generation police officer — his wife, Alycia, and their twin sons, Hayden and Carter, 13, were joined by Mulhern’s parents, retired police chief and longtime Hamden police officer Robert and Ruth Mulhern, as well as Jon Mulhern’s brothers, Joseph Mulhern, an East Haven police sergeant, and Neal Mulhern, a detective sergeant in the Madison Police Department.
Robert Mulhern pinned his son’s new chief badge on him.
Robert Mulhern’s father, the late Hugh Mulhern, was a former Hamden police chief and Hugh Mulhern’s brother, the late Robert Mulhern, was a detective captain in New Haven.
In a sign of the esteem Jon Mulhern — who was a North Haven cop for 17 years and its deputy chief for eight before taking the deputy chief job of the Branford Police Department 10 months ago — is held in, the room at Branford Fire Headquarters in which the ceremony took place was filled with a sea of blue.
In addition to a host of Branford cops, the crowd gathered to watch Mulhern take the oath of office from Suprior Court Judge Walter Spader included police officers from North Haven, East Haven, Wallingford, Madison and North Branford, including several members the top brass from other area departments.
Among them were Mulhern’s former bosses, recently retired Branford chief — and now North Branford Chief — Kevin Halloran, and North Haven Chief Tom McLoughlin.
“Jon, I have complete faith in you,” said Halloran, speaking after Board of Police Commissioners Chairwoman Jill Marcus, commissioner Rick Goodwin and First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove but before Mulhern.
“I have a vested interest — don’t forget, I’m still a Branford citizen, so keep the town safe,” Halloran said. “Best of luck and have a long and happy career in Branford.”
After impressing the commissioners and getting hired last year, Mulhern “took right over,” Halloran told the crowd. “He has command presence and the men and women of the department really supported him.
“He made my job so easy,” Halloran said.
Jon Mulhern, after thanking the Board of Police Commissioners for their support, Halloran for his kind words, Mulhern’s wife — “a strong woman who holds us all together” — and his officers, told the crowd, “As I look out, I am truly humbled ... to be standing in front of you” facing a crowd filled with “so many people ... mentors, folks who taught me, who made me a good leader.”
He told his brothers, “You make me so proud. I”m so proud that we all wear the same names on our uniforms.”
He said of his father, “He installed decency, perserverence, and most of all, integrity.”
Mulhern told the assembled Branford officers to remember that “policing is a challenge and dangerous profession that weighs on even the strongest of us.
“As chief, I know that this important position places an important weight on our shoulders,” he said. “I can confidently stand strong because I know all of you will be with me .... I’m honored to serve the men and women of the Branford PD and the people of this great community.”
Chairwoman Marcus pointed out that she served with “three great chiefs” in Robert Gill, John DeCarlo and Halloran prior to Mulhern taking the oath and said she looked forward to Mulhern continuing that legacy.
“May he go on to serve for years to come,” Marcus said.
Goodwin said that “great achievements are a moving target” and he was confident Mulhern was up to it.
“The men and women of the Branford Police Department already represent the best in policing. Our core here is solid...” he said. “I’m not going to go on a limb when I tell people that we have the right man for the job.”
Cosgrove said what impressed him when Mulhern was sworn-in as deputy chief was how many people from North Haven showed up, which showed he was a well-respected leader.
“At that point, I knew that we had the right guy,” and “over the past 10 months in his role, I can not only see that he’s earned the respect of his colleagues, but of the community.”
Robert Mulhern, who served as chief of police department in Orono, Maine and Groton, Mass. after retiring from the Hamden PD after 21 years on the force, said he was proud of his son — and all of his sons.
“He’s going to keep it going,” he said of Jon Mulhern. “He remarkable. He’s going to be a great chief. He works tirelessly at his job.”
The swearing-in ceremony was emceed by Branford Police Capt. John Alves.