DECEMBER 02, 2016-
Mayor Joseph P. Ganim
Chief Armando J. Perez
For Immediate Release
For More Information:
December 2, 2016
Av Harris (203) 814-7992
Mayor Ganim to Swear-in New Bridgeport Police Academy Class Sunday December 4th
at 4:00 p.m.
Mayor Joe Ganim, Bridgeport Police Chief AJ Perez, Bridgeport City Council members, Bridgeport Police Officials, New Bridgeport
Police Recruits, families, other dignitaries
Ganim to join Bridgeport Police Chief AJ Perez, other police officials, Bridgeport city council members and other dignitaries
to officially swear in the new class of 22 recruits into the Bridgeport Police Academy. The new class is the 2nd
class to enter the academy so far this year, fulfilling the Mayor’s commitment to hiring 100 new Bridgeport Police Officers.
The class also represents the diversity of the city.
WHEN: Sunday December 4, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.
Bridgeport City Council Chambers, 45 Lyon Terrace, Bridgeport, CT
Senior Advisor for Public Policy
City of Bridgeport
Council grapples with Ganim’s cop budget
1:10 pm, Monday, May 2, 2016
Photo: Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut
BRIDGEPORT — Returned Mayor Joe Ganim
campaigned last year on a promise to hire 100 new cops.
And his proposed budget boosts Bridgeport Police Department spending by a whopping $13 million. In contrast, the mayor’s plan cuts other departments’ spending, reorganizes
offices, flat-funds education and relies on tax increases and $5 million in union concessions.
So as the City Council
enters its final full week of budget meetings before having to vote, the police budget is one area that is being scrutinized
for more savings.
“That’s somewhere we
will most definitely look,” said Scott Burns, a chairman of the council’s Budget Committee. “We’re going to look everywhere, but that’s a big-ticket item.”
Asked if that might mean delaying
a class of cops — 100 officers equals three classes at the city’s police academy — Burns said it is possible.
can cost roughly $80,000 to train, pay and equip one new officer, according to the city’s Finance Department.
the mayor were willing to do that, that might make this year’s budget more palatable,” Burns said.
proposed his budget in early April. Burns and the Budget Committee have met almost daily with department heads. The full City
Council has scheduled a budget vote for May 10 at the latest.
Last week it was Ganim’s new acting police chief
and longtime political ally Armando “A.J.” Perez’s turn to defend his $53.5 million budget — which
represents a $13 million increase over the current fiscal year.
Bridgeport’s Finest are important to Ganim, and
not only because he defeated incumbent Bill Finch last year in part by focusing on the Police Department’s retirement-depleted ranks, and spikes in homicides and shootings.
The police union also put its credibility on the line and endorsed Ganim, despite the fact his first administration was toppled
in 2003 by his corruption conviction.
“We’re in dire straights over there,” the soft-spoken Perez
said as he began his presentation to the council members. “We’re down a lot of police officers.”
argued that sufficient manpower would allow the department to be proactive and prevent tragic crimes.
put a price on public safety,” Perez said. “You can’t un-ring the bell. You can’t take a bullet back.”
Before Perez went further in his presentation, Nestor Nkwo, the mayor’s budget czar,
sought to debunk the $13 million hike to council members as a potentially fat target for cuts. He attributed much of the increase
to unavoidable expenses like pension liabilities, holiday payouts and overtime.
So how do the 100 new cops impact Ganim’s
budget? Even Budget Committee members admit it is difficult to tell, based on the document they received.
the department should have a staff of 427, and is currently down to 352.
The effort to recruit and train 100 new police
officers actually began last year, under Finch, and the first of the hoped-for three new classes of around 32 is currently
at the academy. The next class is scheduled for September or October.
According to Ganim’s finance office, approximately
$2.7 million is set aside for new hires in Ganim’s draft budget.
“Chief, do we need that 100?” Councilwoman
Evette Brantley asked Perez.
“You want to keep the overtime down?” Perez said. “You want to keep the streets safe?”
of early January — halfway through the fiscal year — the $5.5 million overtime budget for Bridgeport police had
already been spent, and officers were expected to rack up a total $10.5 million tab when the current budget expires June 30.
Sitting beside Perez, Captain Douglas Stolze argued that the department faces another wave of retirements. Stolze said that by October, 110 officers will be eligible
to retire, and that number jumps to 187 by the end of 2018.
Stolze suggested that the longer Bridgeport waits to hire
recruits, the greater the risk that the pool of qualified candidates find jobs elsewhere.
“They made a compelling
case that we need to be ready to hire 100 cops,” Burns acknowledged afterward. But, he said, perhaps the timeline could
be stretched out, with some of the funding pushed into the city budget that would begin July 1, 2017.
Some argue the
council needs to share what wealth Ganim has provided the police, particularly for bolstering the flat-funded $254.6 million
Interim Schools Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz has claimed the school district would need a $15.1 million budget increase just to maintain the services it now provides.
More than 200 teachers, parents and children recently packed a budget committee hearing and pleaded for more money.
John Marshall Lee, a city resident who for years has regularly attended budget meetings and scrutinized Bridgeport’s finances, recently
told the council: “Ignoring increasing school expenses for 22,000 resident children in our school system is not fair
in a year where police administration will increase $13 million. The needs of 350 to 400 police officers should not be allowed
to shut out city support for a basic school budget.”
Patrolling the projects
pressure on Perez’s department is his and Ganim’s recent commitment to provide better policing at the city’s
low-income, crime-ridden public housing projects.
Ganim courted votes at those sites and, following two shootings that
left one dead and 10 wounded his campaign opened an unofficial — and controversial — police substation near
In mid-March, Ganim and Perez announced they were establishing public housing patrols. The administration
offered to invest $400,000 for infrastructure and beautification improvements at the projects if their owner, the federally
funded Housing Authority, foots the estimated $600,000 bill for six months of police overtime.
“It’s $100,000 a month,” Perez
“Wow,” said Brantley.
Burns’ co-chairman, Councilwoman Denese Taylor-Moye, who lives at the Housing Authority’s Marina Village development, worried about what happens once the $600,000 is spent.
know the Housing Authority itself is in dire need of financial assistance,” Taylor-Moye told Perez. “When it (the
money) goes, how is it going to be replenished? ... There was money put out before for policing and when the money ran out,
that was it.”
Perez said the department is looking at grants. He also said a drop in crime from increased policing
at the housing projects would inspire the city and its Housing Authority to come up with more funds.
“I know we’re
going to do such a good job, it’s going to be a game-changer,” Perez said.
Mayor: community policing returning to projects
6:15 pm, Monday, March 14, 2016
BRIDGEPORT - Mayor Joe Ganim announced Monday he is bringing back community policing in the city’s housing projects.
The Bridgeport Housing
authority has agreed to commit $600,000 to fund the community
policing effort and the city has committed to funding
at least $400,000 in bonding
for infrastructure improvements and beautification in the various public housing projects.
Bridgeport residents are entitled to feel safe and secure in their own homes. Without police investing in our public housing
communities, the criminal element is allowed to run illicit drug and gun rackets in the apartment buildings and towers,”
Ganim announced while standing with Police Chief Armando A.J. Perez, residents of some of the city’s housing projects and members of the city council. “Often residents just trying
to go about their daily lives in these housing projects are terrorized and afraid to even let their children outside to play
out of fear of stray bullets. From today on, our police officers will be there to protect and empower the residents of these
communities by gaining their trust and working in partnership. We are here to stay,” the mayor said.
conference was held in the new Trumbull Gardens police substation on Reservoir Avenue. Ganim had opened the office as a substation
while he was campaigning for mayor only to have Mayor Finch attempt to shut it down and order officers not to use it.
can now call this an official police substation, right chief?” Ganim asked Perez. “That’s right,”
replied Perez, shaking the mayor’s hand.
Ganim to begin new community policing effort
Published 1:51 pm, Sunday, March 13, 2016
— Mayor Joseph Ganim on Monday plans to announce a new community policing effort for public housing projects in the city.
The mayor plans
to hold a press conference at 11:30 a.m. in a parking lot at the Trumbull Gardens tower to reveal the new initiative, along
with Police Chief A.J. Perez and Bridgeport Housing Authority Executive Director George Lee Byers.
The effort includes a memorandum of understanding between the city and the BHA to fund policing and security enhancements
for the residents of the public housing projects.
Trumbull Gardens last year was the scene of numerous shootings and
the violence in part helped propel Ganim’s successful run for mayor. As a candidate, Ganim promised to hire more police
officers and focus on reducing crime.
Perez takes helm of Bridgeport Police Department
10:50 pm, Thursday, March 3, 2016
BRIDGEPORT — If Armando “A.J.” Perez has learned anything
in his long quest to become chief of the city’s police department it’s patience.
That virtue paid off Thursday,
when Perez took the oath of office as Bridgeport’s acting chief to the thundering applause of hundreds of police personnel,
state troopers, city officials, religious leaders and private citizens.
Considered a shoe-in for the department’s
top job when his friend, Joseph Ganim, was elected mayor, Perez, who climbed up the ranks from patrolman to head of the detective bureau in his 32-plus years on
the force, saw his hopes dimmed when Bill Finch re-signed Chief Joseph Gaudett to another five years hours before Finch surrendered the mayor’s post to Ganim.
“To put it mildly I was disappointed,” Perez, 60, said earlier Thursday from behind police
“I remember that next weekend, I went with my family to Manhattan and we were sitting in St.
Patrick’s Cathedral for Mass, behind the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” he recalled. “The cardinal’s sermon was about patience —patience
was a virtue — he kept harping on the word ‘patience.’ Later, when we were walking on Fifth Avenue, I turned
to my wife and asked her if the cardinal was trying to tell me something.”
Three months after Perez reflected
on that sermon, the new Bridgeport mayor swore him in at the City Council Chambers in City Hall, the domed ceiling echoing with Scottish bagpipes and Cuban guitar.
Police union President Sgt. Charles Paris told the Post he would look for a return to community policing under Perez, a policy he said had begun to make the city a
safer place before being abandoned by the department.
“We missed out on it for many years,” Paris said.
“It made a huge difference compared to where we were.”
The union endorsed Ganim over Finch, apparently angling
for a police regime change.
When Paris took the podium Thursday, he remembered the cars Perez drove when the two friends
were younger men. He especially recalled a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro with a decal — a rising sun — that puzzled Paris
at the time, but now made sense.
“The sun rose in Bridgeport today,” Paris told the audience. “We
have a new chief, and we’re proud of him.”
Sgt. Joseph Hernandez, the president of the Bridgeport Police Hispanic Society, remembered Perez’s softer side, even during busy shift changes.
“He always stopped you and asked you,
‘How are you? How was your day? How is your family?,’ ” Hernandez said.
Perez’s first act —
after Ganim administered his oath as chief — was to remember and congratulate two of his colleagues who just became
chiefs in other towns after long careers in with the BPD — James Viadero, now in Newtown, and John Cueto, the new chief of Duck, N.C.
Then Perez vowed to cut crime rates in Bridgeport, with the cooperation of other local
“We're going to clean this place up; we’re going to make this city the safest city,”
Perez said. Later, he added, “I will not have 108 people shot in this city. I will not have 18 homicides. It is unacceptable.”
2015, there were 19 homicides in Bridgeport. So far this year there has been only one.
Perez said the thought of being
chief had taken some getting used to, but it was the first thing to enter his mind when he woke up Thursday.
am the chief of the Bridgeport Police Department, and I will lead this department as long as God gives me strength.“
The new boss
agreed this week to resign as chief to take over the city’s emergency communications center as a consultant, for roughly
the same salary he had earned.
When the chief’s seat is vacant, the city has traditionally mounted extensive searches
to identify candidates. But the city’s hiring law allows the mayor to “appoint a member of the Bridgeport Police
Department as the acting chief of police,” who is then entitled to run the department until a permanent successor is
Perez also thanked Guadett for his service at his swearing-in Thursday.
“Chief Gaudett is now in
a good position,” Perez told the Post. “He is overseeing a system that he created, and I know we will be working
well together for the betterment of the department.”
Perez also said he was not about to cast stones, “But
the store is a mess.” The Police Department is down about a hundred officers through retirements and exoduses to suburban
departments offering greater salaries.
The prior administration dismantled a number of the department’s units,
handing those responsibilities to the state police and the feds. Thousands of dollars seized as evidence disappeared from
a safe in the department’s records room.
And then there was the racist letter that an investigation determined
was written by the officer who reported receiving it. That cop, no longer with the force, said he was told to write the letter
by Lt. Lonnie Blackwell, the president of the minority police organization The Guardians and head of the training academy.
Blackwell has denied any connection to the letter but is on administrative leave
pending a hearing before Perez.
“There is no room for that kind of hatred in the Police Department,” said
Perez. “I believed we were past that. ... I have a lot of work to do, a lot of healing to do.”
encouragement of Ganim, Perez has brought together the different divisions into a unified anti-violence task force that has
already been responsible for some high-profile arrests and seizures of guns and drugs.
He said the task force brings
together veteran detectives along with younger officers such as Sgt Jason Amado, who has gotten very familiar with what’s going on in the streets. Perez is also giving the captains a greater role
and the four deputy chiefs have been given new tasks.
Perez also hopes to eventually hook up the city’s camera
surveillance system to those of stores and businesses.
“What we can now do with technology is amazing,”
Sense of community
But Perez said he would also like to bring back the feeling in the
department when he came on in the early 1980s.
“It was like a family,” he said. “And we were much
closer to the people in the community.”
Perez recalled that on his second day on the job, he was assigned to the
midnight shift in the P.T. Barnum housing project. He was riding with a veteran cop who ordered him to start ticketing cars parked illegally around one of
the project’s courtyards.
“It was freezing out and my pen wasn’t working, and as I was going along
I could hear people shouting ... out the windows at me,” Perez said.
When he got back into the car, the senior
officer told him to go back out and take the tickets off the cars.
“When I finally go back into the car I was
shivering, and this son of a gun asked me what I had learned. I told him I learned how to freeze ... accomplishing nothing
and he told me, ‘No, you learned how to make friends in the project.’
“The easiest thing to do as
a police officer is to arrest someone,” Perez continued. “Sometimes you have no choice, and no one is above the
law, but there are a lot of poor people in the community and a lot of kids who just need an opportunity to belong.”
So the department is going back to community policing, with plans to reassign officers to the housing projects on a
“I spent my first five years in P.T. and it’s a tough place,” Perez said. “But
to this day I can go there and walk around without any fear. The kids that I saw and talked to when I was first there are
now adults and they remember me and that’s want I want for my officers.”
While Ganim is his friend, Perez
was adamant that he is his own man.
“I run this department, no one else,” he said. “I’m going
to be fiscally responsible and I’m going to run the department.”
Staff Writer Alex N. Gecan contributed
to this report.
Perez appointed new police chief
8:42 am, Wednesday, March 2, 2016
BRIDGEPORT — On a day when 21 men and eight
women were sworn in as recruits, the Bridgeport Police Department also got a new boss.
Mayor Joe Ganim appointed Capt.
Armando "A.J." Perez as Bridgeport's new chief of police, replacing ex-Chief Joseph Gaudett, who has agreed to step down in exchange for a consulting job with the city.
Ganim announced Perez's new job Tuesday
"A.J. is deserving of this promotion; he has demonstrated time and time again that he is the best person
to lead the Police Department of the city of Bridgeport," Ganim said. "Since he was appointed to head the new anti-crime
task force, he has taken more illegal guns off the city streets, seized more contraband and made more serious arrests than
this city has seen in a long time."
The move had
been expected. But earlier Tuesday, when Ganim and Perez greeted what officials called the most diverse incoming class yet
at Bridgeport's Newfield Avenue police academy, the mayor said no change in command was imminent.
"We still have
a lot of paperwork to do before we can make an announcement about the next chief," Ganim said, adding that word might
come by the end of the week.
As it turned out, things happened much faster than that. Hours after visiting the recruits,
Ganim said Perez would be formally sworn in as chief on Thursday at 5 p.m., at City Hall.
"It's with this effective
leadership that we will make the citizens of this city safer," Ganim said.
Gaudett, who resigned as chief under
a deal that allows him to work in the city's emergency communication center, had not attended the afternoon police academy
Ganim and Perez were there to meet the new class, as was police union President Charles Paris, public safety
adviser Wilbur Chapman, academy commander Lt. Jeff Grice and state Rep. Charles Stallworth.
The recruits could be hitting
the city's streets by the second week of September.
"This is a class that is a reflection of the population of
the city of Bridgeport," Ganim told them.
And he said they should be ready for change.
is going to take over a new role, and I am glad to support him in that role," Ganim told the recruits.
take the helm of a department that has seen a decrease through retirements of about 100 officers in the past two years. Ganim
pledged to restore the police force to its full strength of about 400 officers.
"We have made this a top priority,"
he told the recruits. "If we can't have children safe when they go out and play in the city, then there really isn't
a reason to be here."
Perez offered encouragement to the recruits, too.
"I remember sitting in that
seat many years ago," he told them. "This is the best job you will ever have. The people you will see, the people
you will help, will stay with you for the rest of your lives."
New cop recruit class sworn in
4:27 pm, Tuesday, March 1, 2016
BRIDGEPORT — Hailed by officials as the most
diverse class in the city’s history, 21 men and eight women were sworn in Tuesday as Bridgeport’s newest police
Barring unforeseen circumstances, they could be hitting the city’s streets by the second week of September.
is a class that is a reflection of the population of the city of Bridgeport,” Mayor Joseph Ganim said, as he addressed the fresh-faced recruits in a classroom of the Newfield Avenue police academy.
In the past two
years, with a change in retirement benefits, the city has seen a decrease through retirements of about 100 officers, and Ganim
pledged to restore the Bridgeport Police Department to its full strength of about 400 officers.
“We have made this a top priority,” the mayor said. “If
we can’t have children safe when they go out and play in the city, then there really isn’t a reason to be here.”
said there are plans to start a second and third class quickly.
Ganim stood before the class with police union President
Charles Paris, public safety adviser Wilbur Chapman, Capt. Armando “A.J.” Perez, academy commander Lt. Jeff Grice and State Rep. Charles Stallworth. Visibly missing was ex-Police Chief Joseph Gaudett who has agreed to step down in exchange for a consulting job with the city.
“We are going through a transition,”
Ganim told the recruits. “We are going to have a change in chief. Chief Gaudett is going to take over a new role and
I am glad to support him in that role.”
But Ganim stopped short from announcing, as expected, that Perez, a close
adviser, would be filling the role of interim police chief.
“We still have a lot of paperwork to do before we
can make an announcement about the next chief,” Ganim said later. He said the decision could be made by the end of the
But clearly the day was reserved for the new recruits in their tan training uniforms.
sitting in that seat many years ago,” Perez told them. “This is the best job you will ever have. The people you
will see, the people you will help, will stay with you for the rest of your lives.”
Ganim sidelines cop chief, fires assistant
Updated 12:38 am,
Saturday, January 9, 2016
BRIDGEPORT — The mayor has reorganized some of the city’s top cops, eliminating
the controversial second in command, and further sidelining Police Chief Joseph Gaudett.
Assistant Police Chief James Nardozzi was the main casualty of Friday’s order from returned Mayor Joe Ganim: The mayor eliminated Nardozzi’s $123,420 position.
Hired three years ago by then-Mayor Bill Finch, Nardozzi’s initial mission was to rein in police overtime. He did a good job at first, but has been hampered by a
drastic loss in manpower.
Nardozzi garnered a no-nonsense
reputation that earned the ire of some in the department, including the union leadership, which endorsed Ganim’s comeback
despite the fact his prior administration ended with a corruption conviction in 2003.
“Those duties currently
performed by the assistant chief will revert back to the chief of police,” Ganim’s order said.
is unlikely to view that as a sign of Ganim’s faith in his abilities. The order further consolidates other police powers
in Ganim’s office, with police Capt. A.J. Perez, a Ganim ally, in a seeming effort to force Gaudett out.
Gaudett is a holdover from the Finch administration. The chief’s
contract was set to expire last month, a few weeks after Ganim was sworn in Dec. 1. While overall crime is down, Ganim leveraged
spikes in homicides and nonfatal shootings to help defeat Finch in September’s Democratic primary.
last days in office, Finch extended Gaudett’s contract for five more years. Ganim could try to buy him out, but the
mayor has been complaining about an inherited $20 million budget deficit.
So instead, Ganim has been sidelining Gaudett.
The mayor brought in his former police chief, Wilbur Chapman, as a paid public safety adviser.
And Ganim has given more responsibilities to Perez, a longtime friend who is in
charge of the detective bureau.
Ganim recently named Perez head of a crime reduction task force.
memo states, “The commanding officer of the crime reduction task force will have overall authority for strategic appointment
and overtime allocation.”
It begs the question, what is left for Gaudett to do?
At the time the memo was
going public, Perez and some other law enforcement officials — without Gaudett and Nardozzi — were at Bridgeport’s
emergency operations center showing off a newly purchased driving simulator.
Asked if Ganim’s memo essentially
put him in the driver’s seat of the police department, Perez said, “He’s (Gaudett) the chief of police.
If I was in his shoes, I’d expect to have the respect of the rank and file.”
Police Sgt. Chuck Paris, the union’s president, was also on hand.
Asked if Ganim’s memo made Perez the de facto chief, Paris said,
“I think it puts additional responsibilities on his plate he can handle, without a doubt. He’s going to help make
some major decisions in the department, which we endorse.”
Neither Gaudett nor Nardozzi could immediately be reached
for comment. Sources have said Gaudett has hired an attorney to protect his interests as the situation continues to evolve.
changes further show the influence the police union has on this new administration, given its strong support of Ganim during
The decision to ax Nardozzi was made just days after Chapman expressed confidence in the assistant chief
and said he had been returned to the overtime beat to help the administration reduce the $20 million deficit.
a very intelligent guy,” Chapman said of Nardozzi. “He’s energetic, focused and a tremendous asset for accomplishing
what city government wants.”
But Paris said Nardozzi, “came from a different department than Bridgeport.”
bulk of Nardozzi’s career, thus far, was spent in Waterbury.
“He came in under the Finch administration
with some strong messages, not taken very well,” Paris said.
Veteran cop advising Ganim
Updated 11:24 am, Monday, December 28, 2015
Chapman made a crack about having to squeeze into the vehicle’s trunk, and they were off. Former colleagues,
old pals, both just returned to the city payroll.
Contrast their relationship with that between Ganim and Police Chief
Joseph Gaudett. These days it seems the only place Ganim wants to drive Gaudett is out of town.
But Chapman insists he is only advising the mayor on improving public safety — in fact that is his title —
and is working with Gaudett, not taking back his old job.
“It’s not an attempt to usurp anybody,”
Chapman said during an interview Monday in the downtown government center. “That’s not my way. I don’t want
to do that.”
Chief to adviser
Chapman, 68, was appointed Bridgeport’s first black
police chief in 2000, the tail end of Ganim’s first 12 years in office.
Prior to that he was a New York City
cop, working his way up from walking a beat in 1968 to chief of patrol in 1995. Chapman then shifted over to run the Big Apple’s
After he left Bridgeport in 2005, Chapman returned to the NYPD as deputy commissioner of
When Ganim mounted a comeback this year, Chapman supported him and was initially part of the transition team
ahead of the Dec. 1 inauguration.
Then outgoing Mayor Bill Finch, in one of his final acts, renewed Gaudett’s contract for five more years.
The expectation had been that Ganim
— endorsed by the police union and critical of the drop in manpower, increases in homicides and non-fatal shootings
— would replace Gaudett.
Some days passed as Ganim’s advisers mulled over whether Gaudett could be fired
or bought-out. Then the returned mayor announced that Chapman would be hired as a senior public safety adviser, earning $64,000
for at least six months.
“I’m not going to be the police chief,” Chapman emphasized. “I have
40 years of experience and a great affinity for the men and women in the police department.”
“If what I
can do for the mayor can be done in 60 or 30 days, that’s one thing,” he said. “We’ve left it open-ended.”
The assumption has been that Chapman’s real purpose is to drive Gaudett out. The chief, for example, was not
invited to join Ganim and Chapman last week when they toured the Trumbull Gardens low-income housing complex following some
shooting incidents there.
“I wasn’t there as a police chief,” Chapman said. “I’m not here
to oversee the police or fire chief or anybody else.”
Chapman said he has been tasked with reviewing all emergency
services for strengths, needs and efficiencies, “Working closely with the department heads.”
hesitant to share his thoughts on Gaudett specifically, but said, “Joe worked very well for me as a lieutenant. Let’s
leave it at that. I have no issue working with him, the fire chief or (Director of Emergency Management) Scott Appleby.”
When it comes to the police department, Chapman notes — as did
Finch — that overall crime is down. But he echoes Ganim’s concerns that homicides are up 45 percent, not counting
the victim of Friday night’s attempted armed robbery of Grand Pizza.
“They’ve reduced overall crime
23 percent, but there are still 18 fewer people who get to celebrate Christmas with their families this year,” Chapman
Chapman’s policing-related priorities will include finding ways to reduce overtime while helping Ganim
deliver on a promise to speed up Finch’s efforts to graduate 100 new officers from the academy.
administration hired James Nardozzi in late 2012 as an assistant chief tasked with cracking down on overtime. It did not improve the ex-mayor’s standing
with the police union.
“He’s a very intelligent guy,” Chapman said of Nardozzi. “He’s
energetic, focused and a tremendous asset for accomplishing what city government wants.”
Asked if those 100 bodies
are the solution to Bridgeport’s woes, Chapman said a depleted police force results in burnout, injuries and fewer cops
walking beats and getting to know the people and neighborhoods.
“When I was a foot cop in East Harlem, the junkies
used to tell me who the burglars were,” Chapman said.
“But,” he continued, “You could have
200 more cops. If they’re not deployed appropriately that’s not going to solve everything.”
Chapman said when it comes to figuring out how to improve safety and address the shootings, the actual police chief —
Gaudett — is in charge of strategy.
Even so, during the interview Chapman was told that an officer was waiting
to talk to him about Friday’s homicide. But Chapman emphasized he is not personally involved in the investigation and
was only getting some information for a concerned mayor.
So is he the mayor’s liaison to the police department?
“I don’t think that of myself, no,” Chapman said.
45 minute drive
critics mocked him as an ambulance-chaser during the campaign because he frequently showed up at crime scenes, consoling victims,
setting up vigils and demanding action from Finch and City Hall.
Chapman said that was not just a gimmick to garner
votes, noting their recent visit to Trumbull Gardens.
“It shows something about him which is why I like him,”
Chapman said. “He’s concerned about the victims.”
Chapman said that is an important quality for a
chief to display as well. While a chief’s priority is “to supply the men and women who do the operation work with
the resources, guidance, training, supervision and discipline,” Chapman added: “Police work is done on the street.”
that’s where the leaders need to lead,” he said. “Lead by example.”
Gaudett, though he lives
in Newtown, rose through the ranks of Bridgeport’s Finest. Chapman, on the other hand, was criticized as an outsider
with a home in New York state, where he still resides, and renting a Bridgeport apartment while chief.
that, being an outsider, he had a particular responsibility to get to know the city.
But he defended his living arrangements,
arguing that while he was always on call, it is not necessary for a chief to live close by.
“I got here in my
own car in 45 minutes,” he said. “I’m not the one to kick down the door on a gun run.”
speaking generally, can a mayor and an inherited police chief learn to get along? “Theoretically possible,” Chapman
said. “It’s really important to have the kind of relationship where there’s a comfortable level and trust.”
“Can it be built up?” he said. “I don’t know.”
Finch ignores Ganim, renews police chief’s contract
Updated 7:10 pm,
Friday, November 27, 2015
BRIDGEPORT - In what some consider a final snub to Mayor-elect Joseph Ganim, outgoing mayor Bill Finch — with just days left in office — renewed Police Chief Joseph Gaudett’s contract for five years on Friday.
“It’s outrageous, it’s appalling,” said Police Union President Sgt. Charles Paris. The union endorsed Ganim with the hope that Gaudett would be shown the exit.
Ganim had urged Finch to refrain from
making any policy decisions ahead of the Dec. 1 inauguration.
earlier this week about rumors Finch was going to act on Gaudett’s contract, Ganim said it would be “a mistake
for him, Gaudett, the police department, the city.”
“I think that would be reckless and hope he wouldn’t
do it,” Ganim said.
But Finch in a statement Friday said his decision, which he believes does not require City
Council approval, was all about what is best for Bridgeport.
“Police Chief Gaudett has proven himself to be a
trustworthy leader as Bridgeport’s top law enforcement official,” said Finch. “I’m honored to reappoint
Police Chief Gaudett to a second five-year term.”
A 35-year veteran of the police force, Gaudett became acting
chief in October 2008, during Finch’s first year in office, following the resignation of Bryan Norwood.
In December 2010, Gaudett was appointed chief. While past chiefs have been required to live in the city, Gaudett’s
contract permitted him to continue living in Newtown.
Locking Perez out
of Gaudett could have more to do with the individual who Ganim was rumored to want instead -- Chief of Detectives Capt. Armando
“A.J.” Perez, a 33-year-veteran of the force.
Ganim, who served as mayor for 12 years until a 2003 corruption
conviction, mounted an aggressive comeback this year, beating Finch in September’s Democratic primary and winning November’s
general election in a landslide.
Perez was Ganim’s driver during his first administration and often at his side
during the recent campaign.
It was Perez who, though never charged with anything, stored cases of expensive wine at
his home that Ganim received as part of his past pay-to-play schemes.
“How does that make the city look?”
said one Finch ally who wished to remain anonymous but confirmed Perez’s possible promotion to chief was of concern.
"How do you help the city move forward if that’s the optic?“
Perez has since worked his way up through
the ranks and is admired by many of his peers as a hardworking supervisor. In an interview last year he told the Connecticut Post: “Joe Ganim is my friend. And I am very loyal to my friends. I never saw him do anything wrong, only good for the city
of Bridgeport and that's it.”
Whatever Finch’s motives, his announcement Friday appears to leave Ganim with
two choices: Work with Gaudett, or buy out the chief’s new contract.
The mood was very somber at the police headquarters
Friday, with many officers concerned that Gaudett’s reappointment may tear them apart.
Some contended that a new
chief would provide a fresh start in light of the two investigations of the department now going on -- the disappearance of
up to $38,000 from the safe in the department’s record room and a racist letter that was disseminated in the department.
The city’s Office of Internal Affairs concluded its investigation of the letter, but its report has been sitting on Gaudett’s desk for six weeks with no
Paris hinted the union may take some action in response, but declined to comment further.
Gaudett with making "tough decisions that have resulted in a stronger department.”
the trust of our community by serving as a strong voice for fair and honest law enforcement practices. He’s led-the-charge
in cracking down on crime in the state’s largest city, which has resulted in some of the lowest crime rates the city
has experienced in nearly a half-century,” Finch said.
During the campaign Finch frequently touted overall lower
crime statistics, while Ganim focused on the rise in homicides and non-fatal shootings, and criticized the administration
for not acting sooner to bolster a department depleted by retirements.
As of Wednesday, the mayor’s spokesman,
Brett Broesder, said he did not think Finch would renew Gaudett’s contract.
But both the mayor and the chief
skipped out that morning on a press conference they had been scheduled to attend to promote the enhanced use of video surveillance.
Bridgeport chef treats cops to Thanksgiving feast
Updated 6:20 pm, Thursday,
November 26, 2015
BRIDGEPORT — Michel Martinez is eternally grateful he is alive — thanks to a Westport cop who stopped him from driving drunk onto I-95 in 2008.
stopped me near the Sherwood Island connector,” Martinez said Thursday. “I couldn’t even stand up. If I
had ever gotten onto the turnpike, I would have killed myself, or worse, someone else. That police officer saved my life.”
And he did so by treating Martinez with “the utmost respect’
and convincing him to change. Martinez did that by going back to school.
In 2011, Martinez added a diploma from the
French Culinary Institute in New York to the one he received from Harding High School in 1993.
On Thursday, Martinez, who owns Festive Food Caterers on Stratford Avenue, gave up his Thanksgiving to serve
the people in blue as well as anyone else who stopped by the canopy set up outside police headquarters.
not alone on Thursday. Volunteers across the nation worked with organizations like United Congregational Church on Park Avenue to provide a hot meal to those in need, but spending the holiday to feed police officers was more of a unique
“When something bad happens who do you call?” Martinez said. “When tragedy strikes who
are the first people on the scene? The police. Our police across the country have been getting a bad rap lately.”
for the past five days, Martinez and his helper, Jorge Sepulveda, a 17-year-old Bassick High student, planned, purchased and prepared the feast.
They baked eight turkeys, peeled pounds
of potatoes for a salad, boiled bags of rice, candied yams and concocted a special sausage, carrot and celery stuffing. Sepulveda’s
dad even roasted a pork for the feast. And their creations, along with bakery-purchased pumpkin and coconut custard pies,
filled a rented van they used to cart the food to Congress Street.
There was enough for at least 150 meals. The leftovers
were going to be donated to shelters, Martinez said.
“This is awesome,” said Sgt. Chuck Paris, head of the police union who stopped by the feast. “It says to our officers that people care. We don’t ask for
pats on the back, but it’s nice to get one once in awhile.”
“For him to give up his own holiday to
serve us means a lot,” added Sgt. Stacy Lyons, who was on duty inside the headquarters. “I’d probably be eating Chinese food or a sandwich today.”
those who stopped by to thank Martinez was mayor-elect Joe Ganim.
“Whether its Chef Martinez, or the 300 meals Danny Roach’s organization handed out or what the soup kitchens are doing today — this is the true spirit of what Thanksgiving
is all about,“ Ganim said. “It’s the good that’s in Bridgeport.“
But for Officer Joseph Liskiewicz, this was a first.
”“I‘ve been a cop for 18 years and never saw anything like this before,"
“It’s nice to be appreciated, especially with all the negative things being said about cops,”
Police Officer Minerva Feliciano said.
But it wasn’t just the officers who got served. Martinez and Sepulveda made plates for anyone who walked
by the police station.
That included a young mother with her baby and Marisol Huertas, a Hancock Street resident who showed up to report a theft.
“That is so beautiful,“ Huertas said. “I’m
going to call him for any functions I have.”
Paris re-elected police union head
Updated 7:04 pm, Thursday, October
BRIDGEPORT — The Bridgeport Police union has re-elected Sgt. Charles “Chuck” Paris to serve a fourth term as president of the 361-member bargaining unit.
is an honor and a privilege to lead the Bridgeport Police union,” Paris said. “We have an extraordinarily dedicated
group of men and women whose priority is to make Bridgeport safe and livable. I appreciate the faith our membership has in
me, and I look forward to continuing the work we have started.”
Local 1159 members also elected Patrolman Ricardo Lopez as vice president and Sgt. Phil Sharp as treasurer. Officer Danny Gomez, Sgt. Greg Granello, Officer Jim Ivanko and Lt. Ron Mercado were elected as executive board members.
Paris said that union leadership will continue to seek improvements in staffing,
safety and morale.
“We work hard to keep our families and communities safe,” he said. “It’s
only by having a union and a voice at work that we can speak up to improve the quality of our jobs and our relationships with
the people of Bridgeport.”
Paris said one the union’s priorities will be to work with city officials to
improve access to quality, affordable health care by joining the state health care plan - an option made possible this year
by state law.
Four officers promoted to detective in Bridgeport
Published 9:18 am, Monday, September
BRIDGEPORT — Four city police officers will be promoted to the rank of detective in a ceremony Monday
Frank Delbouno, Michael Cantrell, Thomas Harper, and Jeffery Holtz will be sworn in as detectives in the Bridgeport Police Department at 4 p.m. in the Margaret E. Morton Government Center, 999 Broad Street.
Mayor Bill Finch, Chief Joseph Gaudett and Assistant Chief James Nardozzi will preside over the ceremony.
Bridgeport Police Chief Gaudett announces K-9 training for officers
Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. announced the beginning of K-9 training
for two Bridgeport police officers.
Police Officers Marie Cetti and John Pachera began their first day of
training at the Connecticut State Police Canine Unit in Meriden, Conn.
Each officer is paired with a dog,
trained as a team, and then will enter the field together.
Officer John Pachera with K-9 Caleb.
Officer Cetti is paired with K-9 Nemesis,
and Officer Pachera is paired with K-9 Caleb.
Click here for photos of Officer Cetti with K-9 Nemesis, and Officer Pachera with K-9 Caleb: http://bit.ly/1Km1xZm.
Police dogs perform an invaluable service by helping to detect drugs, locate suspects or missing persons,
and assist in arrests,” said Police Chief Gaudett. “I am excited for Officer Cetti and Officer Pachera to begin
this training and to eventually join the storied history of specialized units in the Bridgeport Police Department. Both officers
have demonstrated incredible professionalism, work ethic, and dedication to earn this appointment. These efforts go a long
way toward keeping kids and families safe in Bridgeport.”
Once the training is complete, Officer Cetti
will make history as the first female K-9 officer.
“We are particularly proud that the K-9 unit will
be getting the first female officer in its history,” said Chief Gaudett.
The training includes a fifteen
week course in handler protection, evidence recovery, building searches, obedience, and classroom education.
training is considered one of the most rigorous and intense trainings an officer can take.
Family appreciative of support for injured Bridgeport cop
Updated 10:39 am,
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BRIDGEPORT — The mother of a Bridgeport police officer critically injured in a motorcycle
crash last week said Wednesday that his family is heartened by the support of city residents and police officers.
Sheldon Mayne, 32, has been upgraded to stable condition at Hartford Hospital, his mother Elva Mayne said. The five-year veteran of the Bridgeport police department had been critical and in a coma following crash Friday night on Interstate 91 near Hartford.
“He is doing better,
and police officers are in touch with us every day,’’ Elva Mayne said. “Many of them have visited him in
the hospital. We are also thankful for the support people have shown us.’’
The family has set up a GoFundMe page that has raised $14,480 from 150 people in just two days.
Mayne was riding his motorcycle on I-91 at about 11 p.m.
on Friday when he was clipped by a car and thrown several hundred feet, said friend Carolyn Vermont.
Elva Mayne said her son “is a wonderful father, even though he is my son.’’
officer has no children of his own, he is the primary support for the family and a role model to his nephew, a family friend
said on the fundraising site.
Mayne came from Jamaica 14 years ago and settled in Bridgeport. He enjoys playing and
watching basketball and riding his motorcycle, family members said. Mayne normally works the 4 p.m. to midnight shift.
thoughts and prayers are with Officer Mayne and his family,” Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. said in a prepared statement. “He is a great officer, brother, son, and uncle. The entire Bridgeport Police Department
hopes he makes a full and speedy recovery.”
Bridgeport police have also set up an account to help Mayne at the
Bridgeport Police Credit Union. Details can be obtained at 203-374-6500.
“Becoming a police officer is a special calling, and when one of us
needs support, we come together like a family,” said Sgt. Chuck Paris, president of the Bridgeport Police Union. “Sheldon Mayne is that brother that needs assistance.”
you again so much for all of your support in each and every way! Please keep the prayers coming!” wrote Rachel Pelkisson Jarvis, a family friend, on the GoFundMe page she created for Mayne.
Many of the donors also promised to pray for Mayne and
his family. “Strength, hope, and prayers are sent to my brother in blue and his family,’’ wrote Tom Scanlon in a typical message with his $100 donation.
Police union criticizes mayor’s ‘diverse’ remarks
Updated 12:48 pm, Friday, July
BRIDGEPORT - The city’s police union has taken issue with Mayor Bill Finch’s
recent remarks about needing a more diverse police department.
“Every day, Bridgeport police officers put on a
uniform and place their lives at risk, solely to keep our community safe. We are proud not only of our work, but of the city
and its people. We, too, are part of the community, not an entity apart from it,” said Union President Sgt. Charles
Paris is a statement Friday.
“So while we agree with the Mayor that diversity in hiring is important, we find
it less than responsible for him to imply that Bridgeport is somehow less safe because its police force is not reflective
of the community. To even suggest that is preposterous,” he stated.
“Bridgeport police officers urge the
mayor to tackle the real problems facing our police force, from staffing levels to equipment problems. The fact that the Finch
administration has yet to address the outcome of an investigation into a racist letter is indicative of their inattentiveness
to our morale issues.
The Bridgeport police force strives every day to be a respected part of our community. We don’t
make hiring decisions or push papers. We focus on serving the community to the best of our ability. We don’t categorize
each other by race or gender or any other identification. That only color or label that matters is blue. It’s our uniforms
that bind us and symbolize our commitment to keeping Bridgeport safe and livable.”
The union has endorsed Joe
Ganim for mayor
Mayor announces new cop list
By Daniel Tepfer
Published 8:25 am, Monday, July 27, 2015
City officials Monday morning took the next step to hiring new police officers, announcing a new civil service list for police recruits.
worked hard to find not only the best people and also people who reflect the diversity of our great city,” said Mayor
Bill Finch. “I’m proud of the work by our recruiters. They were out in the community and worked with the community. That
another example of how Bridgeport is getting better every day.”
The city expects to hire, train and deploy
100 new police officers in the next 18 to 24 months.
The announcement comes amid criticism of the mayor and police
chief by the police union and other in the community for not being proactive in heading off numerous recent retirements of
The mayor is making a formal announcement of the new list at 11 this morning at the Margaret E. Morton Government Center, 999 Broad St.
Police union wants results of racist-letter probe
By Daniel Tepfer
Updated 5:03 pm, Thursday, July 16, 2015
— The city’s police union is demanding to know the outcome of an investigation into a racist letter that was circulated
around the Bridgeport Police Department in February.
“It has been five months since you jointly launched an investigation into the racist letter
that was typed on city letterhead and distributed throughout our department,” Union President Chuck Paris stated in a letter Thursday to Police Chief Joseph Gaudett and Dora Schriro, state commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. “Therefore, on behalf of the union that represents nearly 380 City of Bridgeport Police Officers,
I am writing to ask for a report on the outcome of the investigation and your findings.”
Schriro, who heads
the Connecticut State Police, and Gaudett did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday.
“Our officers are waiting to know what
the investigation has brought out, we need closure,” Paris said. “Our name and reputation has been spread across
the country by this letter but we were not included in the process.”
Police officer Clive Higgins, who was the target of the letter, recently resigned after being questioned by the city’s Office of Internal Affairs, sparking speculation but providing no hard facts as to the origin of the letter.
The racist letter was typed
on city letterhead and distributed through the Police Department and began and ended with "White Power," a term
coined by the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party in the late 1960s and ’70s. It asserted that Higgins didn’t belong in the Police Department.
went on to make negative comments about African-American officers.
The racist letter came on the heels of Higgins’
acquittal in January of felony civil rights violations in the May 2011 stomping of Orlando Lopez-Soto in Beardsley Park. A
video of that incident made by a passerby in the park went national.
Gaudett requested that the state police investigate
where the letter came from after the local chapter of the NAACP demanded a probe.
NAACP Chapter President George Mintz did not return calls and emails for comment Thursday.
“As you know, our union welcomed and cooperated with
the investigation into this terrible incident,” the letter to Gaudett and Schriro continues. “I said at the time
that department morale was at the lowest level I’ve seen in a long time. This is a very difficult time to be a police
officer and we all need to be mutually supportive of each other. The absence of any information regarding your investigation
continues to be a drag on our morale and an impediment to moving forward.
We signed on as police officers to make
a difference through our service to the public. We are proud of the work we do — often under dangerous conditions —
walking our beats, patrolling our communities, and working for the betterment of Bridgeport.
While we will never
waver in our commitment to duty, we will continue to voice our concerns about negative working conditions that impact our
lives and our reputations. We deserve better than to have “radio silence” regarding the outcome of your investigation.
We cannot heal wounds when we don’t know the nature of the injuries.”
New police contract could spur exodus
By Frank Juliano
Updated 12:27 am, Monday, July 13, 2015
— It can take more than a year for a newly hired police officer to begin patrolling the city streets alone.
takes about 10 minutes for a veteran officer to retire, and the Bridgeport Police contract that went into effect July 1 makes
that option more attractive, current and former officers say.
At a time when the city’s police manpower is the
lowest it has been in years, the prospect of a new class of recruits filling the gap is a mirage, current and former department
“Seven have retired this month, and I anticipate 10 more going next month,’’ said
Sgt. Chuck Paris, the union president. “Those are just the ones we know about. Anyone can file paperwork today and be retired tomorrow.
have 379 (certified officers) right now, which is the lowest I remember it being since I came on in 1993,’’ Paris
said. “Morale is low. This is the critical time; we’re always busier in summer.’’
think 20 or 30 more might go by the end of the year, and there is no way hiring can catch up to that,’’ said David Daniels, a retired Bridgeport police lieutenant who said he plans to run for mayor as an independent.
Chief James Nardozzi said the department plans to train, hire and deploy about 100 new officers over the next two years.
plan to seat back-to-back-to-back classes at our Bridgeport academy and are discussing sending additional recruits to other academies, if spots are available,’’ Nardozzi said. “In
the meantime, we continue to keep the same number of officers on the street.’’
But Paris said that hiring goal seems optimistic, given background checks and other lengthy preparations
still need to be done.
“I don’t anticipate an academy class beginning much before the end of the year,”
he said. “And that takes six months to complete.’’
After that, probationary officers work with
experienced cops for several months before they can patrol on their own.
Under the new contract, any new officers
hired will not have paid health benefits at retirement, and the department’s unlimited sick days have been eliminated.
Although the contract provides raises of 2.5 percent in each of its four years, three of those years are retroactive, meaning
a new round of negotiations will happen next year.
The starting pay of $52,061 for a Bridgeport police officer
is low for a city its size, Paris said. A newly hired Milford police officer, for example, earns $59,784, that city’s
2015-16 budget shows.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, however, said with the transition to the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement System, the Bridgeport Police Department has become one of the most attractive in the state.
“The city offers a very competitive retirement package,
continues to offer 100 percent tuition reimbursement for police officers and, as a larger department, provides an opportunity
to work on specialized units such as the Marine Unit, SWAT, the Mounted Unit, K-9 and traffic,’’ the mayor said
in an email sent by an aide.
The Bridgeport Police Department receives an average of 400 calls for service each
day, Paris said.
“There is no community policing going on, no informal contact with residents,” he said.
“We’re just chasing calls. So much needs to be done that isn’t being done.’’
and police officials stress that full coverage is being provided, despite the reduced number of officers. All two-person patrol
cars are going out with two officers, and all shifts and sectors are covered, they say.
Crime is also continuing
its downward trend overall, though homicides and non-fatal shootings in Bridgeport are both up from a year ago.
gaps with overtime
The shifts are being covered by overtime and extra duty, meaning the same number of cops
are doing more work. While they are generally pleased to have the extra duty and higher pay, Paris and Daniels say there is
a specter of a department being spread too thin.
Daniels and Paris say another contract provision—giving
the chief the authority to fire a department member without going to the Board of Police Commissioners — will have a chilling effect on morale.
“Most officers believe that the chief is a tool of the mayor
and that it will be the mayor doing the firing,” Daniels said.
Finch faces a tough battle to win a third
term. Democratic challengers Mary-Jane Foster and former mayor Joe Ganim have been sharply critical of the mayor’s oversight of police staffing.
Daniels, as the department’s
community relations officer, had been outspoken in his criticism of some decisions Finch and Gaudett have made.
wanted me gone, but I also wanted to leave,’’ the retired lieutenant said. “The Bridgeport Police Department
hasn’t had a formal community policing program in 10 years, and all of the positive things the department can do are
an offshoot of that.’’
Daniels and Paris said the retroactive raises, which will bump up pension calculations,
could lead more police officers to file for retirement.
“I was making $80,000 as a lieutenant when I retired
last April, which meant I could retire at $40,000,’’ Daniels said. “But when we switched to the state system,
which looks at the three best years, that bumped it up another $20,000. Would you stay?’’
Ganim gets police union’s official support
By Brian Lockhart
Updated 7:09 pm, Thursday, July 2, 2015
— It’s a new version of “cops and robbers,” with the mayor’s office at stake.
Thursday, the city’s police union, after interviewing most of the Democratic candidates for the job of Bridgeport’s
chief executive, including incumbent Bill Finch, chose the one who held it for 12 years until he was sentenced to prison for corruption.
endorsement of Joseph Ganim comes as Finch continues to try to convince voters that the city is safer under his leadership, despite some high-profile
homicides and a rise in non-fatal shootings.
“I’m honored to have the overwhelming support of the Bridgeport Police Department, and look forward to working in partnership to make the city safer,” Ganim said following the union’s afternoon
vote at the Port 5 Naval veterans club in the waterfront Black Rock neighborhood. “These are the individuals, more than
anybody, out there facing challenges in our neighborhoods.”
Ganim noted the endorsement, made by only around
70 of the union’s few hundred members, was particularly meaningful because of his criminal history and because Finch
and the department, after months of contentious negotiations and one failed vote, recently agreed to a four-year contract.
three of those years are retroactive, however, the union and the next mayor will be at the negotiating table in 2016.
has campaigned on bolstering the department’s thinned ranks.
On Thursday, he said he also supports equipping
officers with body cameras, something the Finch administration is pursuing in the face of some reservations by union leadership.
don’t think it’s the end-all answer, but it’s a piece,” Ganim said.
The union’s decision
to embrace Ganim was no surprise, considering some officers, including Sgt. Chuck Paris, the union president, have attended his fundraisers.
Still, as she exited her interview Thursday, businesswoman
Mary-Jane Foster, who enjoyed police support during her unsuccessful attempt to unseat Finch in 2011, was optimistic about her chances.
know I am a friend and supporter and have the utmost respect for our force,” said Foster, who hopes to appeal to voters
who do not want Finch for a third term but cannot stomach returning Ganim to office.
At least one officer, who
did not wish to be identified, said a warm goodbye to Foster in the club’s parking lot, and said she is the best of
the candidates expected to face off in September’s Democratic primary.
“She’s intelligent. She
doesn’t have the political ties that have corrupted this city for years and years and years,” said the cop, who
has moved out of town.
Many police union members cannot vote in Bridgeport. Still, Paris said, they have influence.
all have family, friends in Bridgeport,” he said. “We have contact with many people in the community.”
did not reveal the details of Thursday’s vote, other than to say it was “overwhelmingly” for Ganim and that
around 70 union members participated.
He said that group represented an array of the department’s divisions,
but Finch’s camp downplayed the endorsement as made by just a few cops.
“It’s ironic that in
a backroom-deal setting, a small group of select union members decided to support Joe Ganim — a criminal who as mayor
was convicted of 16 felony charges and spent seven years in jail for systematically steering city contracts to friends in
exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes,” said Finch campaign manager Maryli Secrest. “Mayor Finch remains focused on earning support from hardworking Bridgeporters across the city — and the hundreds
of Bridgeport police officers who are protecting our streets every single day, helping the city see some of its lowest crime
rates in nearly a half-century.”
City will interview 800 for 40 police openings
By Frank Juliano
- CT POST
Updated 4:46 pm, Tuesday, June 16, 2015
BRIDGEPORT — More than 800 candidates for 40 openings for Bridgeport police officers will be funneled through
the Webster Bank Arena for their oral interviews this week.
The candidates already have completed the written portion of the civil service
exam as well as the physical agility exam, said city spokesman Brett Broesder. Each one will now be interviewed by one of 14 three-person panels. Each panel will include one city official, one ranking
police officer and one community member, Broesder said.
Once the oral interviews are completed, the testing company
will calculate each candidate’s score. Bridgeport residents will receive an additional 15 percent of their score for residency.
goal is to seat up to 40 police recruits in an academy training program this fall, the city spokesman said Tuesday. They would
graduate in the spring.
There are 79 unfilled positions in the Bridgeport police department, said former mayor
Joseph Ganim, one of three Democrats opposing incumbent Mayor Bill Finch’s bid for a third term. Ganim and Finch organized competing prayer vigils last week, after nine people were shot and
one man killed at the Trumbull Gardens apartments.
The shooting remains unsolved; the Bridgeport police are being
assisted by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force in the investigation.
Finch has touted a sharp drop in crime during his administration. Violent crime
in Bridgeport has dropped 40 percent over the past 10 years and the homicide rate has been nearly halved from the 22 killed
Police Union President Charles Paris sees it differently. “It’s a sad day for the city of Bridgeport,” Paris said after the Trumbull Gardens
shootings on Thursday. “We need to step up patrols in the area. We are short and we need help.’’
Mary Jane Foster, a Democrat who is making her second mayoral run, was also critical of Finch for “sitting back while police staffing
levels have plummeted to their lowest level in decades.”
Carmen Colon, an executive director of the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA, and Carolyn Vermont, the director of urban initiatives for Connecticut Against Gun Violence, will be citizen representatives on the interview panels.
said she believes that it is the first time that residents have been invited to participate in the hiring process for new
“As community leaders, each day we are out there in the community,” Vermont said.
“We know what some of the needs are. We know that we need to strengthen the relationship between police officers and
Finch said residents are “stakeholders’’ in the city and deserve
to be part of the process. “Bridgeport is a very diverse and inclusive community so we want diverse and inclusive panels
to conduct the interviews.’’
Bridgeport cops cleared in deadly force case
Frank Juliano and Daniel Tepfer CT POST
11:07 pm, Wednesday, May 20, 2015
BRIDGEPORT -- It was an undercover operation to grab a gun dealer that quickly
devolved into pandemonium.
Within 28 seconds, four city police officers -- later claiming they thought they were
being fired upon -- riddled the gun dealer's car with more than 20 shots in a dark Boston Avenue parking lot.
killed the passenger, Carnell "Nay Nay" Williams, 23 and wounded the driver, 24-year-old Kiarra "Kiki" Davis, in the head.
On Wednesday, following a year and a half investigation, Litchfield State's Attorney David Shepack cleared the four -- detectives Chris Borona, James Borrico, Sean Ronan and Officer Everton Walker -- of any criminal wrongdoing in the incident.
"Officer Walker and Detectives Ronan, Borrico, and Borona
believed the use of deadly physical force was necessary to defend themselves and their fellow officers from the imminent use
of deadly physical force. It is further concluded that their belief was objectively reasonable," Shepack stated in his report.
Shepack said the officers were justified in their use of deadly physical force and that "such force was appropriate
under (state law). Accordingly, no further action will be taken by the Division of Criminal Justice."
"I think there was a lot of creative writing on his (Shepack) part," said Davis' lawyer, Robert Berke, who is preparing to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city's police department over the shooting. "This
is not as clear cut as he concludes."
Questioning the probe
Berke said it is clear that only police
officers fired any shots and he pointed out that the officers involved were not questioned by state investigators, but instead
were allowed to submit written reports that were not done under oath and were made a month later.
When state police
examined Davis' car after the shooting they found two unloaded guns with the bullets for both guns in a backpack. There is
no indication in the report when the guns were tested to see if they had recently been fired.
Williams was shot
five times with the fatal shot entering his mid back and exiting his chest, according to the report. The Chief State Medical
Examiner later determined the fatal shot was fired while Williams was in the car.
Berke also questioned the statement
of a civilian witness at the scene who corroborated the police officers' accounts. Although he said he has received a number
of reports on the incident from the Police Department, the report by the witness was not one of them.
was an extremely tough situation for everyone involved," said Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett. "It's a very difficult decision for any police officer to use force, but on rare occasions it's necessary in order
to keep our neighborhoods safe and secure. And, after a comprehensive investigation of this incident, the Litchfield County
State's Attorney's Office determined the officers in this case were justified in using force."
2013, the Gang Task Force, made up of Bridgeport, state police and state corrections officers, received information that Davis
had two guns to sell for $750. Officer Walker posed as potential buyer and arranged to meet Davis on the night of Nov. 25
in the Bayview Plaza parking lot to make the deal, according to police reports.
Twelve police officers were involved
in the operation. Borona, Borrico and Ronan were called in as backup.
Borona was still under investigation at the
time for fatally shooting a Bridgeport man, Bryan Stukes, outside a fish market on Pequonnock Street the previous April.
In that case, Borona had been visiting the owner
of a fish market on Pequonnock Street when he was told Stukes was outside the store pointing a rifle at another man. Borona
ordered Stukes to drop the gun and when Stukes refused, Borona shot him in the leg. As Stukes then fled with the gun, Borona
shot him in the upper back, the report states.
In July 2014, Stamford
State's Attorney David Cohen, who had been appointed to investigate the case, found that Detective Christopher Borona's use of deadly forced was justified by law.
"Gun! Gun! Gun!"
Officer Walker was talking
to Davis through the passenger window of her car when he said Williams picked up a large revolver from the floor in front
"He was holding the revolver by the handle ... from where I was standing I could see the rear of the
cylinder and I noticed that there were bullets inside the weapon," Walker said later in his written statement. "Based
on my observations I believed the gun was loaded."
Walker gave the signal that a gun was in play and everything
broke loose. Unmarked police cars pulled up to prevent Davis and Williams from fleeing while encircling the suspects' car.
officers were yelling: "Police! Police! Police!" and then "Gun! Gun! Gun!" according to authorities.
who was standing by the windshield of Davis' car, said he shined his flashlight into the car.
"I could see
a male passenger within the passenger compartment moving and looking around within the car with a large revolver in his hand,"
he stated in his report. He said he yelled for the man to drop the gun but the man didn't comply.
continued movement in the car and I heard a single gunshot. I could not tell who fired the shot, where it came from or whether
it had hit any officer. I discharged my service pistol into the front passenger door where I believed the armed suspect was
seated," his report states.
Davis' car drove forward before crashing into a high curb; the passenger door
opened and Williams fell face down on the pavement.
Borona stated that Williams was twisting on the ground with
his hands under him. He stated Williams refused orders to show his hands and Borona, fearing Williams still had the gun, fired
another shot at him.
Borrico stated he heard gunfire and fearing Williams was firing at him, he unloaded his gun
The report states Borona fired eight shots, Borrico, nine shots, Ronan, six shots and Walker two shots.
New cop contract may spur more retirements
Brian Lockhart CT POST
12:22 am, Monday, May 18, 2015
BRIDGEPORT -- Already short nearly six dozen officers heading into the busy summer
months, the city's Police Department could be grappling with an additional wave of retirements come July 1 because of a new contract.
estimating probably 30," Sgt. Chuck Paris, the union's president, said. "It could be more."
The department now has a roster of 380 sworn personnel,
down from the desired 447.
While Mayor Bill Finch's administration launched a recruitment drive to send as many as three consecutive, 32-member classes of cops to the city's
police academy, the first group of new officers will not hit the streets for on-the-job field training until next winter at
the earliest. And it will be this time in 2016 before they can patrol independently.
At that point, the city will
have already decided whether Finch, who has been touting reductions in crime, deserves a third term, or if one of his opponents,
many of whom have been criticizing the thinning ranks of Bridgeport's Finest, deserves a chance.
According to the
Police Department, as of May 10, serious felonies -- murders, robberies, rapes, assaults, burglaries and car thefts -- were
down 15.8 percent from this period last year.
"I'm proud to say that our city is safer and stronger today
than any other time that I can remember," Finch said recently.
But there have been seven homicides this year
as of Friday, compared with two during the first five months of 2014, and non-fatal shootings are also up from 16 in 2014
to 27 so far this year.
"There's a very small group of violent young people who are hell-bent on shooting
each other," Police Chief Joseph Gaudett recently told members of the City Council. "There's a proliferation of illegal weapons on the street. ... If these kids
have access to a weapon and a desire to use it, it's going to end up with tragic results."
Paris said the
homicides and shootings are a growing concern for his members, at least some of whom are supporting ex-Mayor and convicted
felon Joseph Ganim over Finch.
"It's getting down to a point where we need help," said Paris, "Summer's coming. We're
Yet the cause of the additional retirements would be a new police
contract that Paris wants the council to approve Monday.
Paris told the council's Contracts Committee this week that the new agreement will give "horrible" morale a needed boost.
After rejecting a three-year
deal last May, city and union negotiators worked out a four-year contract that union members passed in March, 260 to 79 votes.
of those four years are retroactive.
The council's Contracts Committee, following a meeting with Paris and Neil Austin of the city's labor relations office, unanimously forwarded the document on to the full 20-member legislative body.
contract contains some big changes expected to spark retirements.
Pay raises would help veteran officers boost
Also, Gaudett will have the ability to fire officers -- a decision now left to an appointed Police Commission -- and to assign officers based on criteria beyond seniority.
Unlimited sick time will be eliminated. The union
and the city will partner on creating a bank of sick days, which participating officers who have used up all of their time,
including vacation, can access depending on the circumstances.
"It's not going to be a runny nose," Paris
told the Contracts Committee.
Assistant Bridgeport Police Chief James Nardozzi said he understands Paris' reasoning that a new contract could result in retirements.
"(But) I don't have
a single set of retirement papers on my desk right now. Not one," Nardozzi said. "So any number from Chuck Paris
or anybody else is purely speculative at this point. I can't run the Police Department based on rumors. If the union has information
of specific names and numbers, I'd love them to share that with us."
the current 67 vacancies, Nardozzi said, "Are there still the same cops on the street? The answer's `yes.' It's just
they're being staffed on a time-and-a-half basis. There are still the same cops and cars out there on every shift."
few weeks ago, Gaudett told council members the vacancies affected a new 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. swing shift, specialized units like
the traffic division and officers with desk assignments.
"We're very lean when it comes to administrative
police officers," he said.
While the city's police academy can only handle a maximum of 32-student classes
at a time, Nardozzi said the plan is to try to get the second and third classes going halfway before the preceding class graduates.
typically run for six months, followed by 10 working weeks of field training.
"So every three months, you'd
graduate a group of 32," Nardozzi said. "And every three months, starting this time next year, they'd work independently.
That would be our best-case scenario."
While in the near term the new contract could further deplete the police
ranks, the hope is that the changes aid recruitment in the future and retain young officers.
Paris told the Contracts
Committee that "we're still one of the lowest paid departments in the state."
But the new salaries do
make Bridgeport more competitive.
And Nardozzi said the new flexibility when it comes to assignments will prove
a boon as well.
"How frustrating is it when you're a young officer who possesses a special skill set and you
know you'll never have an opportunity to serve in that position until you have 20 to 25 years on the job?" Nardozzi said.
"Think about for (military) veterans. Think for our Bridgeport citizens who may possess special skills. What a
great recruitment tool."
Bridgeport police approve new contract
Brian Lockhart (CT POST)
11:22 pm, Wednesday, March 25, 2015
BRIDGEPORT -- Some members held their noses doing it, but on Wednesday the
city's police union overwhelmingly approved a new four-year contract that includes raises, concessions and grants the chief
"It's the best we're gonna get," said one cop, as he walked out of City Hall in mid-afternoon
after casting his ballot.
The vote, tallied by 6 p.m., was 260-79, according to Sgt. Chuck Paris, the police union's president.
Last May, the union turned down a three-year deal, though the actual vote was not released.
needed to come together as a membership," Paris said. "I think it shows the union is willing to negotiate as long
as it's fair."
The agreement, while ending the current arbitration process, only provides a brief reprieve
to both sides. Three of the contract's four years are retroactive, so the sides are going to be back at the bargaining table
That will be just a few months into either Mayor Bill Finch's third term or the tenure of a victorious opponent, depending on the results of this year's election.
there are some mayoral options out there -- Finch's fellow Democrats, ex-mayor-turned-felon Joseph P. Ganim and businesswoman Mary-Jane Foster are both considering runs -- is hardly lost on the police department's rank and file.
As a reporter spoke with
two officers outside City Hall, a passing driver shouted, "Joe Ganim for mayor" out of his window.
Paris had been urging his men and women to reach a deal, rather than leave
the matter in the hands of an arbitration panel, and that message resonated.
"We honestly feel if it goes
to arbitration, we've got more to lose," said one officer.
In a statement released by his office, Finch welcomed
the contract approval.
"I couldn't be happier for the work that our police union, city and others put into
finding a resolution that works for everyone involved," he said. "Our police officers do a tremendous job protecting
kids and families across the city."
But Paris made it clear that Wednesday's "yes" vote should not
be interpreted as an endorsement of the Finch administration.
"This has been a long, three-year struggle"
to try and get a little more for his members, Paris said.
Paris said with the
ranks depleted by retirements -- 70 as of last year, with perhaps 65 officers eligible this year -- he remains very concerned
about officers' safety.
"We need support from the administration and whoever is in the office of the mayor,
and (the union) will be making a decision on whomever we may support in the near future," Paris said.
cop, who like other officers declined to be named in this story, said the deal is a good one, but added, "I'm on my way
out the door."
Still others feared the new contract would hurt Finch's efforts to bolster ranks and to convince
younger officers to make a career out of serving the city.
For example, the contract eliminates medical coverage
"Bridgeport's going to become a weigh station" for young officers to build a resume, then
leave for better-paying positions in the suburbs, said one union member.
The administration on Sunday ended a
recruitment drive, garnering over 1,000 candidates who had fulfilled all of the necessary requirements.
academy can only graduate classes of about 30 people at a time, so some of those potential recruits will likely move on over
time, while others will be weeded out for various reasons.
Under the new deal, police will receive a 2.5 percent
increase for each of the four years, but also lose five days of pay.
And Gaudett will have greater latitude to
establish or eliminate new units, divisions and assignments.
Most importantly, the chief said last year, he will
be able to fire officers. His authority to discipline now stops at 30-day suspensions; anything further is in the hands of
an appointed Police Commission.
"It's kind of unusual for the boss not to be able to fire somebody," Gaudett said in an interview during
last May's contract vote.
Not everyone satisfied
Asked to comment on officers' concerns about the disciplinary
changes, Paris said the majority of Bridgeport's officers are hard-working, good, honest people.
work, work to the best of your ability, keep your nose clean, you should have nothing to worry about," he said.
officers interviewed Wednesday expressed frustration that they had been offered what was considered a poor contract, even
as their jobs get harder and harder.
"We have local terrorists, world terrorists, regular crazy people,"
Meanwhile, the rise of technology and social media means that officers are constantly under scrutiny
in public, not just from the top brass, but people in the community who witness them in action.
two veteran officers were convicted on federal charges of beating a suspect in Beardsley Park. Footage of the incident was
caught on video and circulated online.
And minority leaders are keeping a close watch as the state investigates
a racist letter typed on city letterhead and distributed through the Bridgeport Police Department.
"It's a really bad time for law enforcement," the officer said.
Bridgeport receives 2,000 applications for police officer jobs
Published 6:49 pm, Sunday, March 22, 2015 (CT POST)
-- A recent police recruitment effort drew more than 2,000 applications from men and women who want to become officers, city
"I want to thank the Bridgeport Guardians and the Bridgeport Hispanic Society for their support," Mayor Bill Finch said Sunday.
"Together, we have worked to recruit the best candidates and a diverse group of future officers
who will reflect the community and our keep kids and families safe," Finch said.
The city and police department
worked with the community in an aggressive recruitment campaign to connect with a diverse group of potential recruits committed
to Bridgeport, officials said.
"With over 2,000 applications in, we're optimistic that we're on track to have
an applicant pool that is more representative of our community," Finch said.
Police Chief Joseph Gaudett said violent crime in the city is at the lowest level in 40 years.
"But there is more work to be done,"
"These new officers will be protecting our residents for the next 25 years. We want the best,"
he said. "Our kids deserve the best. The recruits will be the new faces of this department for generations, men and woman
who will be building relationships with neighbors and the community."
Vote on Bridgeport police contract comes at turbulent time
Brian Lockhart (CT POST)
1:42 pm, Saturday, March 21, 2015
BRIDGEPORT -- These are interesting days for the police department in Connecticut's
A recruitment blitz is ending and current officers are preparing to vote on a contract, all amid
some internal racial tensions and a simmering mayoral race.
Ten months after rejecting a three-year contract, Bridgeport
cops Wednesday will vote on a four-year deal with Mayor Bill Finch's administration.
"I'd rather have us make decisions than an arbitration panel," said union head Sgt.
Chuck Paris on Friday.
The contract dispute has been in arbitration since May's "no" vote.
allows the city and the police to try to work out an amicable agreement even as arbitration is ongoing.
proposal, the new contract offers 2.5 percent pay raises each year, seeks concessions and gives Police Chief Joseph Gaudett greater latitude to establish or eliminate new units, divisions and assignments.
"It would be in the union's
favor to get this approved," Paris said.
Police rejected the original offer in part because of management
reforms sought by Gaudett. The chief can now only suspend officers, with terminations ultimately decided by a mayor-appointed
The latest draft also provides termination power for Gaudett. That is a concern for Lt. Lonnie Blackwell, head of the Bridgeport Guardians, which represents black officers.
An email signed by Blackwell and circulated
in the community called the deal "the worst contract ever presented to our membership, or any other Connecticut police
department, in our history" and urged a "no" vote.
Blackwell, who did not return phone calls seeking
further comment, also questioned whether a section of the draft contract eliminates the ability to file a grievance over "unjust discrimination."
is a sensitive issue, given that State Police are investigating racist letters targeting black officers that were distributed within the department.
to Blackwell's email, Paris said, "Lonnie never reached out to me or anyone else in the union attempting to understand the content
of the tentative agreement. If he did, he would be more educated regarding each issue and what the impact would be for all members."
said avenues remain for contesting any alleged discrimination.
Asked what he is hearing in terms of support for
the draft contract ahead of Wednesday's vote, Paris said, "It's pretty much 50-50."
A disgruntled union could
cause headaches for Finch, who is facing potential challenges for a third term from businesswoman Mary-Jane Foster and ex-Mayor Joseph P. Ganim.
Meanwhile, Sunday marks the deadline of the city's recruitment effort to bolster a police force depleted by a surge
in retirements, leaving 70 vacancies. Gaudett earlier this year said optimal staffing is 447 people.
an emphasis on recruiting locally, with Bridgeport residents receiving extra points on their applications.
Tuesday, 1,013 candidates had met the qualifications. Of those, 139, or 14 percent are residents.
The number of
minority applicants disappointed some.
Of the 1,013, 560, or 55 percent are white; 233, or 23 percent Hispanic;
and 152, or 15 percent are black.
Finch a week ago held a news conference with black leaders to emphasize the need
for more diversity in the Police Department. While the city has been recognized as making gains in that area over time and
having the most diverse police department in the state, there remain concerns that Bridgeport's Finest still do not reflect the community.
George Mintz, new head of the city's reconstituted branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, expressed some disappointment with the recruitment numbers.
"I would have liked to have seen those numbers
reflect the community of Bridgeport," Mintz said Friday. "I think the numbers tell a story and we need to find out
what it is."
Asked if the racist letters, which made national news in mid-February, could be partly to blame,
Mintz said, "One would think, but I'm not a person to have opinions based on conjecture."
Lawsuit dismissed after former cop walks
Daniel Tepfer CTPOST
11:57 pm, Tuesday, January 20, 2015
MILFORD -- A lawsuit brought by a recently retired Bridgeport police lieutenant,
claiming he was defamed by the police union and a fellow officer over drug testing, came to an abrupt end when the plaintiff
grabbed his coat and left the courtroom.
Superior Court Judge Theodore Tyma then ruled he had no choice, but to dismiss the case brought by William R. Bailey.
"All I wanted was an apology, I didn't want their money," Bailey explained Tuesday. "I realized I wasn't
going to get that so I grabbed my coat and said, `I'm done with you,' and left."
Bailey, who retired from
the police department last November after 31 years on the force, had filed suit in October 2012 against the police union,
its president Charles Paris and officer Ivan Clayton.
Bailey is now director of public safety at Holyoke Community College.
"I'm happy the proceeding didn't go forward and we wish Lt. Bailey the best of luck," Paris said.
had been in charge of drug testing of officers in the department. In 2012, Clayton failed the drug test and was subsequently
suspended with pay. However, Clayton accused Bailey of tampering with the test, according to the lawsuit.
states that Paris asked Police Chief Joseph Gaudett to investigate whether Bailey had tampered with the test and as a result of that request Bailey was investigated by the city's
Office of Internal Affairs.
As a result of the actions of Clayton and Paris, Bailey "has been required to respond in writing to the aforesaid
false accusation, has been undermined in his professional relationships with his superiors and subordinates and has been caused
to suffer emotional distress and humiliation," the lawsuit states.
"In the hallway my attorney was shocked.
I told him how embarrassed I was to see police officers like those I left in that court," Bailey said. "They are
the reason people in America do not respect or trust us. I dropped the court case because I am nothing like them and wanted
nothing from them."
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Depleted Bridgeport PD emphasizes local hiring
Brian Lockhart - CT POST
10:41 pm, Tuesday, January 13, 2015
BRIDGEPORT -- The city wants to bolster a depleted police force with cops
who live in and know Bridgeport.
"Last time, we gave 10 (extra) points to residents" on their police
exam scores, Police Chief Joseph Gaudett, who is heading the recruitment effort, told members of the City Council on Monday. "This time, we're giving 15."
Tuesday, the city announced that applications are due March 22, with the written test scheduled for April 11.
if the starting patrolman salary of $47,164 is too low, Gaudett told council members the emphasis is on doing good and serving
"We really try to get people who really want to be here for reasons other than money,"
For months, the department has struggled with a surge in retirements, which occurred in part because
of a switch in pension plans that allows eligible officers to collect based on the average of their best three years' earnings,
including city overtime and overtime earned from contractors at job sites.
Hiring has not kept pace, and there
are 70 vacancies in a department that Gaudett wants staffed by 447 people.
Bridgeport, which has its own satellite
police academy, was able last year to graduate 17 new officers, culling their names from the remnants of a list of a few thousand
candidates that dated to 2011. But Gaudett said he had been authorized to hire 21 recruits.
"We ran out of
candidates" because of the age of the list, he said.
Officials have been building a new police recruitment
list since the fall, but until Tuesday a test date had not been scheduled. Gaudett said that made it hard to advertise.
1,500 have applied, he said.
The academy can only handle classes of 32 at a time. Given the length of the application
and training process, and funding availability, it could be two years before those 70 openings are filled.
pension plan has done exactly what we expected it to: give officers the ability to leave earlier and financially more secure,"
said Sgt. Chuck Paris, president of the Bridgeport police union. "So we did our part. The city's part is to recruit and establish the list
that new officers will come (from). I have a major concern this is not being done and they are far behind."
said that even as the city tries to fill those 70 slots, new vacancies will be created. He is also concerned about the starting
pay rate, which can be several thousand dollars below that of other cities and towns, he said.
"The men and
women in this department put their lives on the line every day," Paris said. "We need to do some things that are
going to draw some people in. ... Obviously, the salaries are a concern."
The union voted last May to turn
down a new three-year contract that would have given officers 2.5 percent raises each year in exchange for $650,000 in concessions
and major changes in sick time and shift schedules, while giving the chief the ability to fire personnel rather than going
through an appointed Police Commission.
Paris said while he appreciates the efforts to reach out to Bridgeport residents, "we need too many people,"
so the department should cast a wide net. He suggested focusing on military veterans.
Mayor Bill Finch, who is seeking a third term this year and facing possible challenges from fellow Democrats like businesswoman Mary-Jane Foster, retired Police Lt. David Daniels III and mayor-turned-felon Joseph P. Ganim, said Monday the city has made a lot of progress against crime.
"But we still have work to do," Finch
said. "That's why I'm asking those who are interested in protecting kids and families to join the Bridgeport Police Department. As a police officer, you can help make our city better every day."
In October, State Police reported that violent crime was down 10.8 percent statewide and 15 percent in Bridgeport in 2013. But Gaudett told the council's
Budget Committee that the lack of personnel has made it difficult to achieve some goals. For example, efforts to decrease motor-vehicle fatalities
were complicated by retirements in the traffic unit.
"So (we're) not doing as well as we'd hoped, but it's
something we keep on the front burner," Gaudett said.
Homicides in the city were down 8 percent, Gaudett said,
but non-fatal shootings were up, with 78 incidents in 2014 versus 66 in 2013.
Prior to the department exodus, Gaudett,
at the urging of the City Council, had been working to crack down on overtime. Halfway through the current fiscal year, overtime
is up $1.2 million, but that is offset by savings in benefits.
"It's about a wash right now," Gaudett
said. "(But) I'd really like to have a full complement of officers, and not a lot of overtime."
PD seeks to grow, diversify
Ken Dixon-CONNECTICUT POST
Updated 9:58 am, Tuesday, October 7, 2014
HARTFORD -- The Bridgeport Police Department is looking for a few good people.
of retirements and low morale battering the city's law enforcement agency, the department is looking to attract a diverse
group of women and men to become the next generation of police officers.
Assistant Chief James Nardozzi, filling in for Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. at a Monday news conference releasing crime statistics in the state Capitol, said the agency is looking to fill
17 vacancies and to hire more as imminent retirements of older officers occur.
"We would love to recruit more Bridgeport residents," Nardozzi said in an interview.
"We want to make the Police Department much more reflective of the community that we serve. Anything we can do to promote
diversity in the Police Department: gender diversity, ethnic diversity, racial diversity, religious diversity, we think that
is a recipe for improving police-community relations and forming a real partnership in the community."
The department has 376 officers, a decrease of 51 positions from last
year. Seventeen new officers graduated last week from theBridgeport Police Academy and the department expects to train another 32 officers a year. Starting salary is $47,164.
Nardozzi said the city's Civil Service Commission will soon schedule an examination for applicants.
"We anticipate hiring a class, followed by another class, followed by another class," he said.
Applications are available online in the Civil Service
section of the city's website, or people can get them at the Civil Service office at Bridgeport City Hall.
"If someone would like us to speak at a group, or a church, or in
front of whatever their organization is, we can certainly send someone out to help them recruit there as well," Nardozzi said.
Cromwell Chief Anthony Salvatore, a Capitol lobbyist for state police chiefs, said retirements are hitting departments all over Connecticut and chiefs are
developing ways to replace staff quickly.
salaries between certain departments is always competitive," Salvatore said, adding that the academy trains about 250
recruits a year in five classes.
Bridgeport police promote in challenging time
Daniel Tepfer (CT POST)
Published 8:39 pm,
Thursday, September 4, 2014
BRIDGEPORT -- Dozens of the city's men and women
in blue joined with hundreds of their family and friends Thursday night to salute two new police lieutenants and 14 new sergeants.
But there was a black cloud hanging over the ceremony, a cloud whipped up by theBridgeport
Police Department's poor morale, surging retirements and the prosecution of three of their own for the now infamous Beardsley Park stomping incident.
"The environment for being a cop in Bridgeport is not very good," said City Councilman Rick
Torres, R-130. "Morale in the department is really low right now and the city is in a state of shock as upwards of 100 cops
are gone or going."
As a result of retirements, there are now 376 officers
on the force, down from 427 last year.
Paris, the police union president, said the officers who are left are going to have to hold the line until more recruits can be
"There are going to be many more retirements as the years
go on," Paris said. "I can only hope the city has a plan in place."
Gaudett Jr. said there is a plan.
said there will be 17 new officers graduating from the police academy in October, and after that the department will begin
hiring 32 new officers each year.
"We want everyone here to put the word out
that we will be hiring police officers," Mayor Bill
Finch told the hundreds assembled for the promotions ceremony at the City Council chambers.
The mayor said he wants a police force as diverse as the city it serves.
"We want them to represent all our communities in enforcing the law," he said.
Finch contends that Bridgeport hasn't seen the friction between its community and cops that other areas of the country
are experiencing, such as the turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., because the police department's diversity.
"Bridgeport police represent the city in all ways," he said.
many Connecticut suburban communities are also advertising for police officers, and in many cases they are offering more money
and better benefits than Bridgeport. Entry level police officers earn $47,164 here.
are one of the lowest in salaries and one of the highest in medical costs to our officers," said Paris.
"I understand the competition with other communities over the money situation," said Gaudett.
"But I believe we are more attractive with our pension."
department recently switched to the state pension plan which allows eligible retires to average their three best earnings
years, including inside and outside overtime -- paid by companies to have officers at job sites -- in determining what their
pensions will be. In some cases, officers are can retire at 80 percent of their base pay.
"I expect we are going to hear from certified police officers from other communities who want to come here because
they want a real pension instead of a 401(k)," the chief added.
Dickerson and Jeffrey
Grice were each promoted to lieutenant.
The new sergeants are: Stacey
Lyons, Trevor Niestemski, Frank
Simpson, Scott Waehler, Paul Scillia, Ivan
Lazaro Jr., Eric Schneider, Bernard
Webb, Jonathan Duharte, Adam
Robinson and Gabor
Webb's wife, who is also a sergeant in the Bridgeport Police Department, pinned the
gold badge to her husband's chest with the assistance of their daughter.
want to thank you for having the strength to be a Bridgeport police supervisor and I pledge to give you whatever you need
to do your job," Gaudett told them all.
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Robert R. Craw, Bridgeport police captain, dies at age 57
Robert R. Craw Jr., age 57, died Saturday, August 16, in his home surrounded by his loving family. He enjoyed 30 years
of marriage to the love of his life, Sheila Byrnes Craw.
Robert R. Craw Jr.
He joined the Bridgeport
Police Department in 1978, devoting 36 years of service. He served as a patrolman and quickly rose through the ranks to captain,
where he last served as Captain of Central Command, Patrol Division. He was always proud to serve and protect the City of
Along with his wife, Robert is survived by his loving daughters, Meghan L. Craw and Erin S. Craw of Monroe.
in Bridgeport on November 26, 1956, he was the son of Robert R. Craw Sr. of Sebastian, Fla., and the late Leona Semonich Craw.
graduate of St. Joseph’s High School class of 1974, Bob went on to study at the University of New Haven where he earned
a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice.
Bob was also a member of the Msgr. James F. Murphy # 0140 Council Knights of
Columbus, serving St. Patrick’s Parish for 30 years. He was a past member of the Bridgeport Elks, Moose Club of Bridgeport
and the Germania Schwaben Club. In addition to his beautiful wife and children,
Bob is survived by his brother Daniel
Craw and his wife Michele of Stratford, Thomas Craw and his wife Karen of Milford, and his sister Aileen Craw Madar and her
husband John of Stratford. He is also survived by his aunt Ruth DeMott of Bridgeport and his aunt- in-law Sister Mary Agnes
O’Neil of Albany, NY, also several sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, several nieces and nephews and two grand nephews.
tomorrows with him are gone but the memories will live on forever.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, August 20,
2014 at 10:00am, from the Redgate – Hennessy Funeral Home, Main Street and Gorham Place, Trumbull, and at 11:00am, a
Mass of Christian Burial will take place at St. Patrick Church, 851 North Avenue, Bridgeport. Interment with Police honors
will follow in Resurrection Cemetery, Newtown. Friends may call Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at the Redgate-Hennessy Funeral Home,
from 3 to 8pm.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Neal Fischbach and all of his staff in the Fairfield office, along with
the nurses of Tower 7 and the level 9 MICU at Bridgeport Hospital. They would also like to thank VITAS Hospice care nurses
for the home care they gave him the last four days of his life.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial
contributions can be made to the Craw Children’s Education Fund c/o People’s United Bank of 888 White Plains Rd.,
Trumbull, CT. As well as Swim Across the Sound, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, 2800 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT 06606.
Suspended deputy police chief could be back on job
Updated 11:45 pm,
Thursday, May 2, 2013 (CT POST)
BRIDGEPORT -- A deputy police chief who spent the last two years on paid
administrative leave could be back to work next week.
James Honis, a 41-year veteran of the department who was suspended in May 2011, is expected to return to his $108,405-a-year job on
Monday, according to a report on www.onlyinbridgeport.com.
Elaine Ficarra, a spokesman for Mayor Bill Finch's office, could not confirm the report Thursday. Efforts to reach Honis and Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159 were not successful Thursday.
Honis' suspension in 2011 arose out of a complaint filed with the police department
by Lt. Thomas Lula, who accused Honis of participating with other officers in obstructing the investigation into the June 22, 1977, killing
of Anita Marie McIntosh. Police forwarded the complaint to the FBI.
A convicted prostitute and young mother, McIntosh was beaten, bound and
thrown out of a white van onto Stillman Avenue, where firefighters returning from a blaze later discovered her body.
March, city officials met with the police union to discuss Honis' reinstatement, Sgt. Chuck Paris, president of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159, said at the time.
It marked the first action taken on the matter
since March 2012, when Honis agreed to remain off duty in a private agreement reached with the city just minutes before
a scheduled arbitration hearing to address the grievance filed by the police union on Honis' behalf.
Police overtime to get the knife
Brian Lockhart (CT POST)
Published 12:31 am, Monday, April 22, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- Call it James Nardozzi's $3 million performance evaluation.
Mayor Bill Finch's administration hired the assistant police chief in November specifically to rein in the overtime racked up by Bridgeport's
The 427-person department is projecting it could be $2 million over the current $5.4 million overtime budget
when the fiscal year ends in late June.
Nardozzi plans to drive that deficit down. But even if he succeeds, Finch expects
more progress next year. The mayor wants to give police $1 million less -- $4.4 million -- in overtime in 2013-14.
Susan Brannelly, D-130, said after meeting last week with Nardozzi and his boss, Chief Joseph Gaudett, she is optimistic.
"(Nardozzi) seems to be the guy who is a dog with a bone -- thorough and thoughtful,"
As a budget committee co-chairman, she and her colleagues are combing through the mayor's proposed spending
plan looking for ways to avoid Finch's average, $400-per-household tax increase.
Overtime has historically only gone
up, no matter how much money is budgeted to force the police department to live within its means.
But Nardozzi and Gaudett
last week assured council members they are taking tough measures to control the expenses and discipline overtime abuse without
jeopardizing public safety.
"We believe the amount the mayor's recommended is an amount we can live in,"Gaudett
To begin with, as of late January the chief made it more difficult for his officers to rack up the hours.
has been canceled," Gaudett said. "There's no overtime unless it's preapproved by myself or the assistant chief,
with very few exceptions. The message to the department is there is no money left in the checkbook."
overtime daily, and any requests require more detailed explanations than were previously submitted. The department is also
working to implement new computer systems to better analyze overtime in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Budget Committee Chairman
Angel dePara Jr., D-136, asked Gaudett if the chief could provide some data sooner "so we're able to better put together
a realistic and responsible budget."
"The short answer is no," Gaudett said.
Some council members
questioned how realistic stricter overtime limits are for some units in the department, like the detectives who work long
hours closing cases. The budget committee wanted to know if Gaudett could discuss areas where the overtime limits might be
"Everybody (every unit) thinks they need a lot of overtime," Gaudett said. "It's our job
to manage that."
The chiefs have also targeted abuse of sick leave. Under the new policy, any officers who exceed
five sick days over the course of 12 months cannot receive overtime for 30 days.
Nardozzi said so far eight officers
have had their overtime privilege suspended, and 26 others have been warned. The department did not provide further details
on the alleged abuse.
"We don't have any extra officers, to be quite honest with you," he said. "We have
been extra vigilant on monitoring sick-time usage."
And the chiefs are also working with the city law department
to "forcibly retire" a handful of police who have taken extended sick leave. Again, no specific details on those
personnel matters were provided.
The police department does have 19 new officers who will also help relieve overtime
later this year. However, they remain on probation and must be accompanied by a colleague during field training.
Councilman Steven Stafstrom, D-130, whose waterfront Black Rock district would be hit the hardest by tax hikes, told Gaudett he does not understand why
overtime is required whenever an officer takes a sick day.
Stafstrom said the department could perhaps be more flexible
with use of manpower.
Gaudett agreed and said that is a major goal of the ongoing contract negotiations with the police
"We're stuck in the 1980s when it comes to how we do things. We're trying to get that addressed through
contract arbitration now," Gaudett said.
Councilman John Olson, D-132, told Gaudett the police have a public relations problem. "The public does not understand overtime at all,"
he said. "They think it's just fat. If we hired more police officers, would it be less expensive (or) increasing the
budget even more? All the years I've been in the city I keep hearing if we had more officers we'd have less overtime."
said the idea would be to have a steady department of 448 with "a reasonable amount" of overtime in the budget.
Bridgeport police union did not return a request for comment.
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Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Police-overtime-to-get-the-knife-4452120.php#ixzz2RDQgyuO1
Game to help first responders fighting cancer
Denis J. O'Malley (Connecticut POST)
Updated 10:50 pm, Sunday, March 31, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- Spotting Doug Bepko in
his Bridgeport Police hockey jersey at a Sound Tigers game in January, a firefighter from Westchester County, N.Y., slipped
the city police officer a business card and offered a challenge.
"We got a team," he told Bepko. "We'll
play you anytime."
By then, it had been about six years since Bepko had worn his jersey on the ice. The team of
about 20 Bridgeport police officers lasted only two years before calling it quits in 2007.
Not one to walk away from
a challenge, Bepko and the reunited Bridgeport Police team will play the Westchester Fire squad Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the
Finest vs. Bravest two-day hockey tournament at Webster Bank Arena.
Half of the gate from the $30 tickets, which cover admission to both days of the event and include a Sound Tigers
game on Sunday, will benefit four members of the Bridgeport Police Department diagnosed with cancer and their families, along with the family of a Valley EMS paramedic who recently succumbed to the illness.
is something that the team does," said Bridgeport Police Officer Brian Pisanelli, another member of the team. "We play to help out brother and sister officers and bring everybody out to have a good
The Bridgeport Police game against the Westchester Fire will be the third game on Friday's schedule. The
Milford Fire Department will play the Stamford Police Department at 3 p.m., followed by the Danbury and Westport fire departments squaring off at 4:15 p.m.
After the Bridgeport game,
the New Haven Police Department will play a team of police officers and firefighters from Watertown at 6:45 p.m. The day's winning teams will advance to
the semifinals starting at 8 p.m.
Once Bepko and the Westchester firefighter agreed to play, the Bridgeport cop and
his former teammates held a tryout and ended up with a 17-man roster.
"We were like, `Let's get the team back together,'
and it basically spiraled," Pisanelli said.
On Sunday, tournament ticket holders can attend the Sound Tigers game
against the Adirondack Phantoms at 5 p.m., followed by the Finest vs. Bravest championship game, said John Reis, group sales representative at the arena.
Patrons can expect all the amenities of a Sound Tigers game during the entire
tournament, Reis said, although only one concession stand and one bar will be open Friday. All stands will open Sunday.
officers' fundraising goal for the event is a simple one -- to raise as much money as they can to help the five police and
EMS families affected by cancer.
"It's 10,000 seats, so if we could pack the arena with 10,000, that would be excellent,"
Tickets for the tournament are available at the arena and Bridgeport police headquarters on Congress
Street, Pisanelli said.
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Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Game-to-help-first-responders-fighting-cancer-4398672.php#ixzz2PE2OwBMr
Will police and fire be on the chopping block?
Brian Lockhartand Keila Torres Ocasio (Connecticut POST)
Updated 10:25 pm, Saturday, March 30, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- Would the city award badges
to 19 new police officers, only to take them away weeks later?
Mayor Bill Finch is set to deliver his 2013-14 budget to the City Council at its Monday night meeting, and city residents and employees are
waiting to see what jobs or services might be on the chopping block.
Faced with a possible $10 million cut in state
aid in the governor's budget, the mayor has already presented two unpalatable responses to residents: Open their wallets or
weather cuts to public safety.
"You can't cut $10 million out of this budget without reducing the number of police
and fire, or increasing property taxes. It's just not possible," Finch said recently following a speech to the business
community. "I lead with those (departments) because they're the biggest."
There are 430 uniformed members
of Bridgeport's finest and 287 of the city's bravest.
It's a startling warning from a mayor who, between imposing a
youth curfew, initiating a gun buyback program and hiring more cops, has labored to make constituents feel more secure and
change Bridgeport's violent image.
Police Chief Joseph Gaudett says he is already running a tight operation and doing more with less.
That begs the question: Is Finch serious or
simply trying to make a tax hike more palatable to an already overburdened constituency?
"We would have to seriously
consider that because there's just not much beyond that," Finch said of the public safety cuts.
Sgt. Charles Paris, president of the Bridgeport police union, is not losing sleep.
"We feel pretty secure," Paris said.
Many union contracts
in Bridgeport have a "last in, first out" clause requiring the newest hires to be let go in case of layoffs. In
the case of the police, Paris said, that would be those 19 new officers sworn in at City Hall in mid-February.
The first three years' worth of salaries and benefits are paid for by the federal government. In
return the city must maintain staffing levels and retain the new officers a fourth year, Paris said.
"To lay police officers off, we believe the city would have to give money back to the federal government,"
During a forum with community leaders in the Black Rock neighborhood Wednesday night, Finch said
his hands are tied when it comes to cutting the newest hires, even though the new police and fire recruits work hard and earn
Paris said he believes the mayor is simply trying to convince residents to accept a tax increase.
a little disconcerting that they are using the Police Department, in a way, to scare the taxpayers and the governor,"
The police union endorsed Finch's rival, Mary Jane Foster, in the 2011 Democratic primary. But the mayor received the support of the city's fire union.
Twenty-one new firefighters
joined that department over the winter.
David Dobbs, a fire union vice president, said he understands the challenges the Finch administration faces crafting a budget before
the governor and Legislature pass a fiscal plan.
"I think the difficulty is trying to prepare a budget in the blind,"
He said he is adopting a wait-and-see attitude about Finch's threatened cuts.
doesn't come to that," he said.
Another option for the Finch administration would be to target overtime. Both Police
and Fire departments have caused their share of overtime headaches. In fact, Finch and Gaudett hired Assistant Chief of Police
James Nardozzi in November to tackle the problem.
As of that month, the Police Department was already $3.5 million over
its budget because of hurricane response. The most recent data was unavailable from the city, but is expected to be higher
because of the February blizzard.
Gaudett argues that a case can be made that overtime is a symptom of already strained
"If we had a larger department, ergo, we'd have less overtime," he said.
Councilwoman Susan Brannelly, D-130, new co-chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, agrees the city faces a dire budget situation.
But Brannelly is not prepared to talk about balancing the budget on
the backs of police and fire personnel.
"I just think that's an emotional start of the discussion ... because who
wants to give up police and fire coverage?" Brannelly said.
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Excessive Force Lawsuit Against Two Bridgeport
Police Officers Dismissed
— A lawsuit alleging excessive force by two city police officers was dismissed on Tuesday by a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
case, brought by Junior Huertas against officers James Ivanko and Omar Jimenez, lacked the evidence to continue to trial,
according to the judge's decision.
documents say that in June 2009, Huertas was at a party on Park Avenue to watch the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. The party
continued into the night after the parade and spilled out on to the street where people were dancing — approximately
2,500 to 3,000 people in all — according to Ivanko's statements in court documents.
At around 8:45 p.m., officers,
including the defendants, were trying to clear the road and sidewalk, court documents state.
Huertas was on the porch
of 358 Park Ave., and alleged that officers entered the yard and started arresting people without reason, the documents state.
to officers' statements, Jimenez walked to the porch and began talking with a person later identified as Wilmer Garcia, who
began to yell at him and incite the crowd. When Jimenez ordered Garcia to step down from the porch, Huertas stepped between
him and Garcia with an alcoholic beverage in his hand and stated, "You ain't touching him."
was, by his own estimation, standing only eight to ten inches from the officer arresting Garcia and he refused to move when
the officer asked him to do so twice," judge Vanessa L. Bryant said in her decision.
According to the court documents,
Huertas also admitted to consuming "like ten beers" before the officers arrived, but denied that he was intoxicated.
moved to separate Huertas from Jimenez but Huertas resisted and fell over the porch railing, according police statements.
An officer grabbed his legs to prevent him from falling, but let go when a woman attacked him from behind, police said.
alleged that he then stood and officers attempted to force him to the ground, according to court documents. He also alleged
that Ivanko leaped from the porch and struck him in the face. Ivanko, according to court documents, said Huertas stood and
first put him in a headlock, while repeatedly attempting to remove his service weapon. Ivanko also said that while they grappled,
other people from the party were grabbing at him as well.
Other officers assisted and Huertas was taken into custody,
the documents state.
Huertas suffered an eye injury, a fracture of the right orbital floor, according to a doctor's
statement. Huertas further alleged that he suffered pinched nerves in his neck, an astigmatism in his right eye, facial and
body contusions, a sprained shoulder and emotional repercussions.
Bryant granted the city's motion for a summary judgment
in the case — ruling in favor of the defendants on all complaints.
"Huertas' conduct created a clear and
present danger to the safety of police and to the members of the public present in the vicinity," Bryant said.
was charged with second-degree breach of peace, inciting a riot, interfering with an officer and assault on public safety
personnel, court documents state.
"The court finds that probable cause for Huertas' arrest existed for at least
one — if not more — of these violations based on the facts known to the officers at the time of Huertas' arrest,"
According court documents, the state decided not to prosecute Huertas on these charges after he completed
an accelerated rehabilitation program and two years of probation, performed 200 hours of community service and made a $250
donation to charity.
Union: Suspended deputy police chief might return
Keila Torres Ocasio (CT POST)
Published 6:57 pm, Tuesday, March 19, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- Nearly two years after placing
Deputy Police Chief James Honis on paid administrative leave, city officials have approached the police union about reinstating him to his $108,405-a-year
job, a union official said.
Honis, a 41-year veteran of the department, was suspended in May 2011 after Lt. Thomas Lula filed a complaint with the police department accusing Honis of participating with other officers in obstructing the investigation
into the June 22, 1977, killing of Anita Marie McIntosh. Police forwarded the complaint to the FBI.
McIntosh, a convicted prostitute and young mother, was found beaten and
bound, her body thrown out of a white van onto Silliman Avenue. Her body was later discovered by a fire engine returning from
Last week, city officials requested a meeting with the police union to discuss Honis' reinstatement, said Sgt.
Chuck Paris, president of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159.
"We did meet with the city last week," he said. "They approached us about returning Deputy Chief
Honis to work."
Paris said it's unclear whether the city has conditions for the reinstatement.
a closure issue, obviously," he said. "He's never been charged with anything."
In fact, no action has
been taken on the matter since March 2012, when Honis agreed to remain off duty in a private agreement reached with the city
just minutes before a scheduled arbitration hearing to address the grievance filed by the police union on Honis' behalf.
asked about the possibility of Honis returning to work, mayoral spokeswoman Elaine Ficarra consulted with the City Attorney's Office.
"There is a pending personnel matter regarding Deputy Chief Honis
and there will be no further comment at this time," she said.
Ficarra would not answer questions about whether
Honis, who rarely took a day off and was among the highest paid city employees for years, has received any raises per union
contract during his suspension, whether the time would count toward his pension, or if he would be allowed to retire with
At the time Police Chief Joseph Gaudett turned Lt. Lula's report over to the FBI in 2011, the federal agency had an ongoing investigation into alleged illegalities
involving city of Bridgeport towing contracts, as well as the way confiscated drugs were handled by police at the 2009 Gathering
of the Vibes concert at Seaside Park.
Honis' name surfaced in both instances because he oversaw police towing work,
as well as security at the Vibes concert.
In 1988, Honis also was accused -- and cleared -- of any connection with the
murders of other young women in the city.
Former police Officer George Lawson, then on trial for selling drugs while on duty, claimed he was actually working undercover to investigate a connection between
Honis and the murders of other women in the city, including Estella Brantley, a young prostitute.
That case was closed last summer, when the Police Department's Cold Case Unit matched 53-year-old
Leonard Jackson, who had been known to hang around young female prostitutes in the city, to DNA evidence that had been preserved from Brantley's
Voicemails left for Honis were not returned. His attorney, John Gulash, said he has not been contacted by city officials about any possible agreement or re-instatement. He said Honis had indicated
no intention of resigning his position.
Police: Guys in kilts fight on McLevy Green
Daniel Tepfer (CT POST)
Published 5:40 pm, Monday, March 18, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- City Councilman Bob Curwen on Monday called blarney claims his kilt-wearing son threatened officers following his arrest last Friday at an after St.
Patrick's Day parade brouhaha on McLevy Green.
"I am familiar with the situation and my son didn't say anything like that," Curwen said. He continued,
that although he wasn't at the scene, it isn't in his son's personality to threaten officers.
But in her report, Officer
Christine Burns claims Robert Curwen Jr. became combative and, using his father's name, threatened to get officers involved fired.
"You're an (expletive)
officer. My father is Bob Curwen, I'm calling the mayor and you're going to be gone," the report quotes the young Curwen.
36-year-old Curwen has been mentioned as a candidate for the council seat of his father who recently declared his intention
Shortly after 7 p.m., Friday, police said they responded to the green on a report of two men in kilts fighting.
When officers got there they said they found 35-year-old Raymond Collette bleeding from his left ear and Curwen with blood on his left hand and left side of his face.
Police said Curwen claimed
he suffered the injuries when he tried to catch Collette who had taken a fall in front of a bar on State Street.
that point police said Curwen told officers he is politically connected. As a crowd began to form Curwen then began shouting
at officers and yelling for someone to record the incident on video.
Police said Curwen's wife, Kasia, arrived on the
scene but instead of taking her husband's side, she began yelling at her husband, "Shut up, you (expletive) you do this
Once officers had calmed her she added: "They are (expletives) who get drunk and fight every
year ¦ well, maybe every other year."
Curwen, who continued to shout for people in the crowd to video record
the incident, was taken to the police department where he was charged with breach of peace and interfering with police.
police report speaks for itself," said Police Spokesman William Kaempffer. "If Mr. Curwen has an issue with how he was quoted he can file a complaint."
Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Police-Guys-in-kilts-fight-on-McLevy-Green-4364451.php#ixzz2NwxzbqxG
City detective injured in two-car crash
Denis J. O'Malley (CT POST)
Published 8:09 pm, Monday, March 18, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- A city police detective suffered
neck and back injuries Saturday after a car blew threw a red light and crashed into his unmarked Dodge Charger.
police spokesman William Kaempffer said Detective Daniel Domkowski was driving his car north on Washington Avenue when a Ford Focus driven by Juan Montes, of Bridgeport, crashed into it at James Street.
A witness told police that Montes passed a stopped car on the right
and then drove through a red light before hitting the detective's car, Kaempffer said.
Domkowski was hospitalized for
neck and back injuries, he said.
Montes was cited for failure to obey a traffic signal and passing on the right.
Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/City-detective-injured-in-two-car-crash-4364773.php#ixzz2NwxboLvh
28 New Police Recruits Graduating
On Friday the Bridgeport Police Academy will graduate 19
new city officers who will begin field training, as well as nine officers from area departments who will complete training
and join their respective forces, according to Bridgeport police spokesman Bill Kaempffer. Graduation will take place 6 p.m.
in City Council Chambers, 45 Lyon Terrace. Mayor Bill Finch and Police Chief Joe Gaudett will be in attendance.
their six months in the academy, recruits completed a state-mandated curriculum established by the Connecticut Police Officer
Standards and Training Council as well as community oriented projects such as reading to classes of fourth graders, serving
food to the homeless and unemployed and, most recently, assisting the Point in Time Count, conducted annually to count the
number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people and families nationally.
Members from the graduating class:
Police: Juan C. Esquilin, Daniel J. Orlich III, Marcus A. Teixeira, Luis M. Moura, Anthony J. Caiazzo, Michael P. Neumahr,
Eric J. Holder, Michael A. Novia, Michael A. Mazzacco, Joshua Ortiz, Keith W. Hanson, Carlos Pabon Jr., Donald D. Matejek
Jr, Ian T. Schumaker, Codey Remy, Anthony Gianpoalo, Stavros Mirtsopoulos, John Topolski and Matthew Goncalves
Police: Kyle D. Magnan
Stratford Police: Matthew K. Ackerman, Marc H. Halper, John J. Facto II, Kyle C. Lavin
Police: Kelly M. Hollister
Naugatuck Police: Taylor H. Field, Anthony Mistretta
North Branford Police: Corey R.
300 kids surprised with new bikes for Christmas
Published 11:43 pm, Sunday, December 23, 2012
BRIDGEPORT -- In a time of precious little
good news in the region, nearly 300 inner-city kids at the Central High School gym got new bicycles Sunday for Christmas.
What began in October as an effort by police officers to brighten the lives
of about a dozen children mushroomed into the largest bike giveaway event in the city's history, and perhaps the state's,
"There has never been, in the city of Bridgeport, so many bicycles in one place," said a beaming
Mayor Bill Finch as he gestured toward the shiny new bikes aligned in rows on the gym floor.
Assisting the 20 or so police officers
on the project, the school system maintenance department transported bikes and the city's public works department assembled
Money for the project came from area businesses, private citizens and more than a few cops. Bikes came from a
number of area retailers. Helmets were donated by Bethel Cycle Sport.
School social workers and guidance counselors
helped police identify needy children, many of them in housing projects and homeless shelters. Most were between 6 and 9 years
"We went to every school in the city -- public, private and charter -- to make sure the whole city was covered,"
said police Sgt. Paul Grech of the School Resource Officer unit.
About noon Sunday, parents and children filed in and waited, with assorted relatives,
on the gym's pull-out bleachers. The crowd numbered about 1,500.
First to get a bike was Katelin Gordon, who on April 30 was caught in a crossfire between two rival gangs. The girl still has a bullet lodged in her bottom, but
her parents said it will be removed when she's a little older.
Katelin was happy to get the bike, but her dad, Marlon Gordon, said his daughter has emotional scars.
"It's been a little rough," he said. "She's terrified of the
area, and we're taking it one day at a time."
Katelin's cousins, Hailey and Gabriella James, who were with her at the time of the shooting, were the next ones to get bicycles. A beaming Hailey, now 7, said she couldn't
wait to pedal around her neighborhood, not far from the Mountain Grove Cemetery.
The Newtown massacre was marked by
a moment of silence before the children's names were announced. Then, one by one, the kids collected their two-wheeled treasures
and posed on Santa's lap for a picture.
More than a few, with grins on their faces, tried out their rides on the gym
"I just can't wait to take off the training wheels," said Cody Northrop, 6.
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Police help mother and child home for Christmas
Keila Torres Ocasio-Connecticut POST
Updated 12:06 am, Monday, December 24, 2012
-- A criminal-justice major and aspiring police officer, Amanda Arnold believes cops are the good guys.
Still, when her car broke down on exit 25 off Interstate 95, the most she expected
was a jump start and some kind words. The Bridgeport Police Department did better than that.
Within hours of the mishap, Arnold, 25; her 19-month-old son, Kason; and their cats, Piper and Tyler, had a place to stay, a free car repair and extra cash for the holidays.
is really like a miracle," Arnold said Sunday, sitting on the couch of Bridgeport Police Sgt. Melody Pribesh's Derby home. Pribesh said she decided to offer as soon as she saw Arnold and her fair-haired toddler.
ask myself what would Jesus do and last night she was my manger story," Pribesh said. "Her eyes were just so sweet."
was the tears," Arnold joked.
The Florida native was driving home for good Saturday night from New Hampshire, where
she had lived for the past five months. Just before 7 p.m., the engine alert lit up.
Arnold pulled off at exit 25, and
her 1991 Buick Park Avenue shut down completely.
"I was stuck at an intersection," she said.
She called 911, and as
she waited one man tried unsuccessfully to jump start the Buick, and a woman parked across the street to make sure nothing
bad happened. Arnold was crying in frustration when Sgt. Brad Seeley came upon the car.
With police on the scene, the situation brightened.
Officers Ivan Delgado and Mark Martocchio were able to get it towed to a McDonald's parking lot for free by Cityline Towing and Recovery, and they
offered to repair the Buick. Seeley asked fellow officers for donations to buy a new alternator and belt.
10 minutes we had over $260," said Delgado. He kept money to buy discounted parts from the Auto Zone on North Avenue
and gave Arnold the leftover $110.
It was past midnight when Pribesh called her sister for a cage, blankets and food
for the cats, who stayed overnight in the police department garage.
By 2 p.m. the next day, Delgado and Martocchio had
repaired the Buick as Arnold looked on and Pribesh watched Kason.
"I'm going to be sorry to see him go," she
Then Delgado handed Arnold an envelope with $180 from additional donations. The young mom almost cried. Money
had been tight this year.
"Now I'll have money to buy Kason a Christmas present," she said.
said he doesn't feel like he's done anything special.
"It's not just going after bad guys," he said. "We
have to help people."
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Nardozzi named assistant police chief
27 November 2012 14:25 (Bridgeport News)
Police Chief Joseph Gaudett announced the appointment of James
F. Nardozzi as the assistant chief of police.
Nardozzi, who most recently served as the dean of Post College and director
of its master of public administration degree program, retired in 2007 as deputy chief of the Waterbury Police Department,
where he served since 1989. He will serve as second-in-command to the chief coordinating daily business, operations and administration
of the department.
“Dr. Nardozzi will be an excellent addition to the force, working with the chief to rein in
overtime and reduce expenses while ensuring the officers are deployed in the most efficient manner,” Mayor Bill Finch
said. “His extensive police management experience as well as his work as a consultant to many Connecticut police departments
makes him especially suited to assist Chief Gaudett in the day-to-day management of the department.”
look forward to working with Dr. Nardozzi on moving the Department forward in a positive manner, keeping an eye on overtime
and assisting me with the day-to-day operations and administration,” Gaudett said. “He has a stellar track record
in organizational effectiveness and policy development, which will be of great assistance here.”
as Waterbury’s deputy chief, Nardozzi reduced departmental overtime by $2 million annually, implemented new fiscal controls
and monitored systems and procedures to increase efficiency and effectiveness of various department programs and operations.
was chosen from among the top three finalists presented to the Finch after a nationwide search conducted by Randi Frank Associates.
The assistant chief position was approved and budgeted by the City Council in Fiscal Year 2012-13.
appointment is provisional pending his recertification by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council. He will be paid
Nardozzi earned his doctorate in public administration from Nova Southeastern University. He has a certificate
in criminal justice education from the University of Virginia and graduated from the University of New Haven with a master’s
degree in public administration and a senior professional certificate in forensic science. He also holds a bachelor’s
degree in criminal justice. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the FBI LEEDS program and the Connecticut Municipal
Police Academy, and is a certified police Instructor in Connecticut.
Jury clears Bridgeport, cop in fatal shooting
Daniel Tepfer(Connecticut POST)
Updated 2:27 p.m., Tuesday, October 23, 2012
BRIDGEPORT -- A Superior Court jury Tuesday cleared both the city and one of its police officers of any civil wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a South
Carolina man following a chase four years ago.
Members of the dead man's family sat shaking their heads in the Main
Street courtroom as the clerk, Tanisha Williams, read each verdict finding that Lt. Brian Fitzgerald had used reasonable force when he shot the unarmed Frederick McAllister in the back in the Success Village housing complex on Jan. 31, 2008.
"This is not agreeable," said McAllister's
mother, Martha McAllister, who broke into tears after the verdict. "My son was killed unjustly. That cop slaughtered
him and this verdict is not right."
Following the verdict, Judge Dale Radcliffe told the sobbing McAllister family that while he understood the result was not what they expected he still hoped they got
The city's lawyer, Betsy Edwards, later called the verdict a "complete vindication not just for officer Fitzgerald but for all the officers who put their
lives at risk every day to try and keep us safe."
Fitzgerald declined comment as he left the courthouse with Edwards.
jury of three men and three women deliberated over four days before announcing their verdict shortly before noon.
deliberations were long and very difficult and we felt we came to the right decision," a woman juror, who would not give
her name, said later.
Fitzgerald fatally shot the 33-year-old unarmed McAllister following a chase in which police mistook
McAllister for his cousin, Justin Dewitt Ellerbe, who was wanted by South Carolina police on outstanding felony charges.
During the three-week trial Fitzgerald testified
he was working an overtime assignment when he heard a radio report that Ellerbe was heading in his direction in a sports utility
vehicle. He said he pursued the SUV to the housing complex where it crashed through a fence and drove across a field before
hitting a tree. He claimed the driver of the SUV, who he believed was Ellerbe, began advancing toward him, pointing an object
he believed was a weapon. He then fired six shots at the man.
Fitzgerald said he then chased the man into a narrow alley
and fired at him when he said the man made a motion towards his waistband.
It was later determined that the object
in his hand had been his Blackberry.
Edwards contended that the fatal shot occurred in the field after McAllister had
advanced toward Fitzgerald.
"If a police officer has a reasonable belief that deadly force is necessary to protect
himself or to apprehend a dangerous felon he can use deadly force," she told the jury. "No one got on the witness
stand and said Brian did anything wrong."
Among her witnesses during the four-week trial was former Bridgeport
State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict who had cleared Fitzgerald of any criminal wrongdoing following an investigation by State Police.
However, the McAllister family's lawyers, Antonio Ponvert III and Preston Tisdale, argued that evidence showed Fitzgerald shot McAllister in the back as McAllister was running away from him in the narrow
"If a police officer shoots an unarmed, misidentified man in the back the officer must tell the truth
about what happened and take responsibility for his actions," Ponvert told the jurors. "You do not have to find
that Brian Fitzgerald is a bad man, an evil man, that he hates black people. You just need to find he made a mistake and was
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Fundraiser set for Bridgeport officer
reports (CT POST)
11:47 p.m., Tuesday, September 4, 2012
BRIDGEPORT -- Hearing a "10-32, officer needs assistance" broadcast
on the radio immediately prompts officers to spring into action to aid a fellow officer in need.
But the urge to keep
each other safe goes beyond the field.
Bridgeport police officers will demonstrate that on Sept. 28, when they join
with family, friends and strangers to raise money to help an officer in need, Sgt. Jessica Tillson, who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
A benefit dinner will be held that day at the Vasco De Gama Club in Bridgeport. Tickets are $30.
Tillson was cancer-free for five years, but doctors said the disease has returned and
has been found in her lungs, abdomen and lymph nodes, and she is undergoing chemotherapy.
Fellow officers organizing
the event say she would like to spend her time traveling with her 10-year-old daughter to places they haven't been before.
organizers of the benefit are seeking donations in the form of raffle prizes, silent auction items, gift certificates, food
trays, beverages and anything else to help the cause.
Anyone who wishes to help can email or call one of the following:
Tricia Lougal ,; Scott Lougal, , ; Brad Seely, ,; Tami Speer.
T-shirts are also being sold for $20 that have a Bridgeport police badge on the front and "Finish
Strong," on the back. Anyone interested in buying a T-shirt can contact Bridgeport Police Capt. Douglas Stolze. Those interested in attending the benefit dinner should also contact Stolze.
Cop union tepid to new Bridgeport curfew
Brian Lockhart (Connecticut POST)
Updated 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, August 1, 2012
BRIDGEPORT -- When he signed a new youth
curfew into law this week, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch emphasized that the restrictions, criticized by some as an infringement on basic freedoms, are what the community demanded.
so the rank-and-file police officers, however. According to union officials, they were never consulted.
"I do have
concerns about how it's going to be implemented as far as the impact on the officers' routine work," Police Sgt. Chuck Paris, president of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159, said. "They are chasing calls quite a bit right now, and to add this to what they need to do during the shift,
I think, is going to be a lot of work."
Paris added, "And I don't know if we're prepared to go forward with
this as of yet."
Finch and the police have had a rocky relationship. The union during last year's Democratic mayoral
primary endorsed Finch's opponent, Mary-Jane Foster.
Asked to respond to the claim that the union was not consulted, Finch's office issued a terse statement from Police
Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. that the curfew is in place and the department will enforce it.
"Every one of our police officers takes an
oath to uphold and perform the duties and responsibilities of a police officer in the city of Bridgeport," Gaudett said.
"We expect that all our officers will abide by that oath."
Passed last week by the City Council after about
seven months of deliberation, the curfew at first glance appears simple enough: Residents under 18 are not allowed in public
between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between midnight and 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday without a parent or
But there are plenty of exemptions for work, religion, extracurricular activities and unspecified expressions
of "First Amendment rights of free speech (and) freedom of assembly."
Also, youths can break the curfew if
carrying a note from a parent or guardian explaining they are on an "errand."
During Finch's signing ceremony
Monday, Police Capt. Robert Gearing said the curfew was another tool officers will use to get out of their cruisers and interact with the community.
he and Finch also acknowledged it will take at least a month to implement the regulations and police officers will require
While enforcement will mainly involve issuing warnings and fines, under certain circumstances officers may
not be able to leave a youth at home and have to transport them to the police department or another safe spot until a parent
or guardian or social services agency can be contacted.
Paris said, "In the event you have to take these youth
into the police department, where are you going to bring them? How long (is it) going to take for the state Department of Children and Families or a parent to come and release them?"
Reactions among rank-and-file officers to the curfew's passage ranged from
the humorous to real concerns about the practicalities of carrying out the law.
One cop who walks a beat joked he is
going to be carrying around a height bar with him.
Others expressed concern they may be asked to concentrate curfew
enforcement in specific neighborhoods that have experienced violence, like the East Side, leading to claims of racism.
Paris said he would have appreciated if city officials reached out to the union while the curfew was debated, he acknowledged
that the union did not approach the city.
The curfew was proposed in January following the slaying of 14-year-old Justin Thompson.
"It was never an assurance this was going to happen," Paris said.
Staff Writer Daniel Tepfer contributed to this report.
Bridgeport detective urges different approach
Tim Loh (Connecticut Post)
Published 11:46 p.m., Friday, June 1, 2012
-- The officers arrived just before class, settling into seats at the police academy -- 24 men and women representing departments
across the region.
Most were clad in jeans and T-shirts. Others, still on duty, had guns and handcuffs strapped to
They had come for an always popular subject.
The lecturer arrived last, in suit jacket and tie. He
hooked up his laptop computer, clicked open a PowerPoint presentation and began with a quick history of American gangs. Detective Harold Dimbo, 50, breezed through the Irish mob of the 19th century, cruised past the Italian Mafia of the 20th and made quick work of
the gangs of the '80s and '90s that he had helped dismantle.
Working the same city streets he was raised on, often undercover,
Dimbo worked to bring down the Latin Kings and other gangs, beating back the tide of violence that caused up to 60 homicides here a year.
Looking out at the class,
Dimbo said they thought they had solved the problem.
"But we didn't," he said. "We created another one."
BACK TO HIS ROOTS
In Dimbo's mind, two events launched his path from a child of Bridgeport's East End to dean
of organized crime on this city's police force -- and, lately, to the belief that new tactics are needed to address the trouble.
a boy, playing in water streaming out of a Stratford Avenue fire hydrant, he saw an officer approach, flipping a baton. While
most kids scattered, Dimbo and his friend, too small to open the hydrant themselves, stuck around. His friend told the officer
that someone else had opened it. The officer walloped his hand.
Years later, one of Dimbo's friends was killed by a
It was Dimbo's father who challenged him to make something positive out of these bad memories, and so he
applied to become a cop.
"I wanted to show the community what a police officer can be," he recalls. "And
I wanted to show the police department how you can (more fairly) police the community."
A few years in, Dimbo joined
a State Police anti-gang task force, the first in a series of posts with the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Each step brought more training and experience infiltrating gangs like the Latin Kings and a Jamaican gang here in Bridgeport.
traveled to cities with deeply entrenched gang cultures, like Chicago and Los Angeles, and he learned to build cases against
lower ranking members to get to the top of the rings.
He saw how gangs had bylaws, chains of command and visions for
their ethnic communities, even if they heavily trafficked in illegal activities. You often had to be a high school graduate
to join; they frequently wanted members to become attorneys, judges or something else respectable.
It wasn't long after
Dimbo returned full time to Bridgeport and became a detective that he was asked to share his knowledge.
most seasoned gang instructor in the state," says Lt. Lonnie Blackwell, the training academy and recruitment commander in Bridgeport. "I challenged him to bring it to the classroom."
As his class wore on, Dimbo moved from the gangs of old to the ones that torment Bridgeport, and sometimes neighboring
First came the Stack Boyz in the Marina Village Public Housing complex, who emerged as drug dealers out
of a failed hip-hop group, he said. When they started making loads of money, they began a second outfit about a mile north.
Before long, the Elmwood Avenue Stack Boyz were selling superior drugs and making more money, which led to shootouts.
a group formed on the East End called the Bloods, unaffiliated with the notorious gang of the same name from Los Angeles.
fastest growing gang today, Dimbo said, is the East Side Bloods, which accept almost anyone who wants to hang out along East
Main Street, regardless of where their home is. They like flashing "2xx," he said, which stands for "two times
Today's groups lack bylaws and hierarchy and social agendas, Dimbo said. They recruit kids as young
as 12, sometimes foisting their guns upon the kids so that, if the police strike, a court will rule more leniently.
members often come from broken homes, Dimbo said. And unlike with previous generations, these kids have grown up playing endless
hours of violent video games like Grand Theft Auto -- where stealing cars, shooting officers and raping prostitutes is part
of the game.
Yet the actual ring leaders in the groups are few. If there are 75 to 90 members of the East Side Bloods,
Dimbo said, there are maybe 10 real troublemakers that the police are aware of.
The rest want to fit in, to hang out
with the gun-wielders to avoid getting robbed or shot at themselves.
"I don't see them as gangs," Dimbo said.
"I see a person who wants to do criminal activity and he don't want to go by himself.
"Like most bullies."
Dimbo cued a video that shows a teenager who has smuggled a dozen firearms into school under his baggy clothes. It's
a blessing, he said, that regional school districts haven't experienced shootings. But he asked the officers to consider a
What if someone sneaked in multiple guns and dispersed them to friends. Instead of chasing a single armed
target, you enter a hellish scene where untold weapons are inside the school -- maybe a shootout between rivals.
Picture yourself walking around a corner, finding an armed 9 year old.
"We're not trained to shoot
a little kid," he said. "But to that kid, you're a video game."
What drives Dimbo
today, he says, is figuring out how to keep residents out of handcuffs in the first place.
With his class, he wants
to update officers on the latest realities, make them aware of concepts that could keep them safe. But he also wants them
to consider drug dealers and other trouble makers on a more personal level. He wants them to be able to win trust from the
community, so that they can better prevent crime rather than chase it.
"To protect and to serve," he says,
"doesn't necessarily mean you need to make an arrest."
Three years ago, he took over the Bridgeport Young Adult Police Commissioners, a group of 15 or so teenagers that meets in the North End.
Each spring, they perform a play that deals with issues
plaguing the city's youth. This year, Dimbo wrote the script from his experiences as an officer. The play debuts Saturday
at 1 p.m. at the Golden Hill Methodist Church on Elm Street
It's about teenage bullying, a gun in school and a funeral.
The teenage commissioners have helped
Dimbo brainstorm ways to combat youth violence without arresting people.
Once, they took in a girl from a housing complex
who'd repeatedly been in trouble for assaulting people.
A large girl, she soon had a collection of followers who hung
nearby for protection. When Dimbo and a partner visited her home, they found a bug-infested sofa, cockroaches crawling across
the floor and a box spring acting as the girl's bed that was covered by a sheet.
Instead of arresting her, they secured
her family an apartment in a neighboring town.
"We changed her whole life," Dimbo told the officers in his
gang class. "Everyone was saying, you can't do nothing for her, she's a lost cause...But they're kids we're dealing with
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Bridgeport cops getting more firepower
Daniel Tepfer (Connecticut Post)
Updated 07:00 a.m., Thursday, May 3, 2012
BRIDGEPORT -- With the proliferation of
more and better quality guns in the hands of criminals, local police are finding they have to step up their weaponry to keep
The Bridgeport Police Department recently signed with Smith & Wesson to equip its patrol officers and detectives with the .45-caliber military and police semi-automatic pistol.
replaces the .40-caliber Sig Sauer semi-automatic pistols that police officers have carried since 2004.
gun of choice on the streets is a 9mm, according to Police spokesman Det. Keith Bryant. He said the 9mm, popularized in many crime movies and television shows, has been used in many recent shootings. However,
police would not say what caliber bullets were found at the scene Monday at Maplewood Avenue and Poplar Street, where a 3-year-old
girl was shot.
Lt. John Cueto said the .45-caliber bullets that will be used by police officers in the new guns will be larger and have more stopping power
than the 9mm, which was similar to the .40-caliber currently used by officers.
Cueto said the best part is that they
are getting the new guns at no cost.
"The Smith & Wesson people approached us about switching over to their
guns," he said.
Cueto said the Massachusetts State Police recently tested all handguns available for police use,
and the Smith & Wesson .45-caliber came out on top.
Under the agreement, he said Smith & Wesson will make a
swap, trading the department's roughly 450 Sig Sauers for their guns. Patrol officers will carry a full-sized gun, while detectives
will have a more compact model. Each gun has a capacity of 11 bullets in a magazine. The gun retails for $600.
all semi-automatic pistols fire each time the trigger is pulled, Cueto said that the current Sig Sauers are double action/single
action, which means that the first time the trigger is pulled it also cocks the gun, causing the first pull to be harder than
subsequent pulls. This can result, he said, in the first shot not being as accurate. With the Smith & Wesson, each trigger
pull is the same.
"That results in better accuracy and more ease of operation," he said.
Honis, city reach agreement, stays on payroll
Keila Torres Ocasio-Connecticut POST
Updated 10:19 p.m., Friday, March 23, 2012
BRIDGEPORT -- Deputy Police Chief James Honis, who is under investigation for allegedly obstructing an investigation of a killing, remains on the city payroll after the
city reached an agreement with him and a grievance hearing Friday was indefinitely delayed.
Police Chief Joseph Gaudett placed Honis, a 41-year veteran of the department, on leave last May after Police Lt. Thomas Lula filed a report accusing Honis of participating with other officers in obstructing the investigation into the June 22, 1977,
killing of Anita Marie McIntosh.
McIntosh, a convicted prostitute, was found beaten, bruised and bound, her body thrown out of a white van onto Silliman
Avenue and nearly run over by a fire engine returning from a blaze.
Gaudett turned Lula's report over to the FBI, which
had an ongoing investigation into alleged illegalities involving city towing contracts as well as the way confiscated drugs
were handled by police at the 2009 Gathering of the Vibes concert in Seaside Park. Honis' name surfaced in both instances
because he oversaw police towing work, as well as security at the Vibes concert.
Honis, who makes $108,405 a year, has
never been charged with any criminal offense and has said the allegations are false.
Months ago, Police Sgt. Chuck Paris, president of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159, said the union was requesting an expedited appeal and Honis' attorney, John Robert Gulash, said his client was looking forward to being reinstated to his position.
But, minutes before the scheduled hearing
before arbitrator J. Larry Foy in City Hall on Friday, Honis, wearing a dark suit and his long, white hair in a sleek low ponytail, met privately in an
upstairs room with union officials and John P. Bohannon Jr., the outside counsel representing the city.
Half an hour later, all but Honis returned to the first-floor conference
room, where Foy waited, after having reached an agreement, which they discussed privately for a few minutes.
declined to comment on the agreement. Bohannon declined to discuss specifics.
"We entered into an agreement, which
enters the matter into abeyance and maintains the status quo," Bohannon said. "What that means is Deputy Chief Honis
shall remain off duty and on administrative leave with pay at this time."
Bohannon called the delay a simple administrative
procedure. "It is not intended to cast aspersions upon the deputy chief," he said, "but merely to maintain
the integrity of any pending investigation."
No other arbitration date has been set.
The city's contract
with the police department allows the chief to place a member of his department on leave "if a condition exists which
might compromise, limit or prohibit the employee from effectively performing his or her duties or exposes the city to liability."
the two-paragraph letter, Gaudett told Honis that he was on leave pending "the outcome of an investigation of a very
Honis was required to turn in his gun and badge and prohibited from returning to the department
without first receiving Gaudett's permission.
Suspended deputy chief to get hearing
Michael P. Mayko (Connecticut Post)
Updated 08:31 p.m., Monday, February 20, 2012
BRIDGEPORT -- As an FBI investigation
continues, Deputy Chief James Honis, accused by a fellow officer of helping obstruct the investigation of a 1977 murder, is set to appear before an arbitrator
next month to make his case to be allowed to return to work.
Honis has been on paid leave from his $108,405-a-year job
since May 24, when he was suspended by Police Chief Joseph Gaudett. The chief took action after Police Lt. Thomas Lula filed a report accusing Honis of participating with other officers in obstructing the investigation into the June 22, 1977,
killing of Anita Marie McIntosh.
Honis has said the allegations are false. No charges have been filed against the 41-year veteran of the department.
a convicted prostitute, was found beaten, bruised and bound, her body thrown out of a white van onto Silliman Avenue and nearly
run over by a fire engine returning from a blaze.
Lula's report names a 73-year-old man who was friendly with some of
the involved officers as the killer.
However, the individual has not been charged.
No arrests were ever made
in McIntosh's slaying. Only Honis and a retired officer linked by Lula to the matter are still alive.
Lula's report over to the FBI, which had an ongoing investigation into alleged illegalities involving city of Bridgeport towing
contracts as well as the way confiscated drugs were handled by police at the 2009 Gathering of the Vibes concert in Seaside
Park. Honis' name surfaced in both instances because he oversaw police towing work, as well as security at the Vibes concert.
the summer and early fall, FBI agents interviewed several past and current officers in connection with the Vibes and towing
investigations. Honis has never been charged with any criminal offense.
"Deputy Chief Honis has not been charged
with any wrongdoing either internally or externally by any agency," said John Robert Gulash, one of Honis' lawyers. "We are not specifically aware of any investigation or the details of any report that has been
filed. Neither my client nor myself have been provided with any complaint of any kind."
Honis will get a chance
to argue for his return during a March 23 hearing at City Hall before Joseph Celetano, a private mediator and arbitrator.
"We sought an expedited appeal," said Chuck Paris, president of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159. "He is being represented by our lawyers, and he's eager to go forward."
Gulash said Honis is "very
anxious to put this behind him and be restored to his position in the department."
The city will be represented
by John P. Bohannon Jr., an outside counsel.
Celetano will determine whether the action taken against Honis by Gaudett was appropriate,
whether the administrative leave should continue and, if so, the length of time for which it should be continued. If Celetano
continues the leave, he will retain jurisdiction in the matter.
The city's contract with the police department allows
the chief to place a member of his department on leave "if a condition exists which might compromise, limit or prohibit
the employee from effectively performing his or her duties or exposes the city to liability."
In the two-paragraph
letter, Gaudett told Honis that he was on leave pending "the outcome of an investigation of a very serious nature."
Honis was required to turn in his gun and badge and prohibited from returning to the department without first receiving
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City swears in 24 new police officers
Tepfer, Staff Writer (Connecticut POST)
Updated 12:47 a.m., Saturday, October 29, 2011
BRIDGEPORT -- Several hundred people filled the city's Common Council chambers Friday night to greet the newest city police officers.
There were calls for `Fabio' and `Ashley' along with
the flash of camera strobes as each of the 24 members of the 34th policy academy training class walked down the aisle of the
chambers to be congratulated first by Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. and then Mayor Bill Finch.
They were led by the Police Department's Honor Guard and retired police detective Peter Stevens playing the U.S. Marine Hymn on the bagpipe.
The last cadet, John Ballard Jr., was warmly greeted by his new boss Milford Police Chief Keith Mello.
"I stand in awe at the commitment and sacrifice you are making for us," U.S. Rep Jim Himes told the graduates. "The job you are pursuing is one where you will put your life and limb at risk for us."
thanked Himes for helping to push legislation through the Congress to find not only this class of police recruits but a new
class of 20 after the first of the new year.
"The reason you are here is to help people and give back to the community,"
Gaudett continued to the graduates. "I am asking you to always treat people like a member of your family because all
these people are part of the community you serve."
Those graduating the academy were: Phillip Norris Jr., Michael R. Carter, Eliud Henry II, David W. Rivera, John Carrano Jr, Jonathan Duharte, Eric R. Schneider, Timothy Leonard, Jamie Jarrett, Daniel Paz, Fabio W. Pereira, Michael Stanitis, Christopher Zaleta, Marie Cetti, Ean Smith, Clinton Jarvis Jr., Thomas Harper, Ashley Taylor, Marco Brito, Jeffrey Franco, Albert Palatiello III, Sheldon Mayne, Adam Rozum, Paul Cari and Ballard.
Mayne gave the class address. He drew laughs from the audience as he described the ordeal the
cadets had to undergo in the academy including being pepper sprayed and hit with a Taser.
The graduates received the
oath from the mayor and then family members approached the stage area to pin the shiny silver badges on their new graduates.
Jury clears 6 Bridgeport cops of excessive force
Daniel Tepfer, Staff writer
Updated 08:05 a.m., Thursday, October 13, 2011
HARTFORD -- A federal court jury Wednesday cleared
six Bridgeport police officers of claims they violated the civil rights of a Bridgeport business owner when they arrested
him following a scuffle outside his business.
The jury deliberated about four hours before finding in favor of Lt. Joseph Santillo, Sgts. Robert Gasparri and Kevin Gilleran and officers Manuel Santos, Kenneth McKenna and David Uliano.
"We are very pleased the jury vindicated our officers' rights and obligations to protect the public and themselves,"
said Associate City Attorney Betsy Edwards, who represented the officers and the city during the six-day trial before U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson. "The jury did the right thing."
The officers had been accused of excessive force, false arrest and malicious
prosecution under the federal Civil Rights Act in connection with the July 21, 2005, arrest of Trevor Smith, of Kossuth Street.
Smith's lawyer, Alexander Schwartz, did not return calls for comment.
The incident began when Gasparri attempted to get Smith to move his truck from in
front of Smith's steel-framing business on Kossuth Street because the officer said it was sticking out into the intersection.
said Smith became belligerent with the officer and Gasparri called for backup. When the other officers arrived, police said
Smith fought with them.
Both Gasparri and Smith ended up going to the hospital. The officer for back, shoulder and knee
injuries and Smith for shoulder injuries and the effects of being pepper sprayed.
Smith, who was charged with two counts
of assault on a police officer, three counts of interfering with police and one count each of third-degree assault and breach
of peace, was later found not guilty of the charges by a Superior Court jury.
During the trial, he testified he had come out of his business to move his truck, which was parked across the
opening to the garage of his shop when Gasparri pulled him down from the truck without warning. He claimed Gasparri and the
other officers then began pummeling him.
Smith then sued the officers and the city in federal court.
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Two cops recovering from Bridgeport crash
Michael P. Mayko, Staff
Updated 11:14 p.m., Thursday, October 6, 2011
BRIDGEPORT -- A city police officer suffered a broken right leg and broken hip, and two women were seriously injured in
a two-car crash Wednesday night at the intersection of Barnum and Hallett streets.
Police Officer Carlos Vasquez is recuperating at Bridgeport Hospital following surgeries to mend his broken bones. His partner, Jorge Larregui, also was treated and later released from the hospital.
Neither the names of the two women who occupied the second
car or their conditions were available Thursday. The crash is being investigated by the major accident reconstruction team.
Both cars were heavily damaged. A witness described the police car's front end as being crunched.
Chief Joseph Gaudett said he visited Vasquez on Thursday and spoke to Larregui.
"Jorge told me he is very sore," the chief said.
In the department, Larregui is considered "a walking miracle," the chief said. While cleaning his backup
9 mm gun at home, where he was recuperating from a broken right leg in 2008, Larregui accidently shot himself in the left
thigh and nearly bled to death. He was flown to Hartford Hospital, where he was resuscitated three times and given last rites. He also underwent numerous blood transfusions while having 25
surgeries on the leg.
Larregui has been known to wear a gold necklace bearing the words "St. Michael Protect Us."
St. Michael is the patron saint of police officers.
During Wednesday's crash, Gaudett said air bags deployed in the
police cruiser, saving the officers from further injury.
Around 9:30 p.m., the officers were on patrol on Barnum Avenue
when they received a call that another officer was in need of assistance. Gaudett said the two officers responded by turning
on their lights and sirens, which a witness confirmed.
As they approached the two-way stop sign, a green sedan being
driven by one of the women stopped at the sign, inched up a bit before proceeding into the intersection, according to a witness.
That's where a collision, which Gaudett described as a "T-bone," occurred.
A witness said the police car
bounced off the vehicle and came to a rest near a fence.
The chief said he expects the investigation to be completed
In March, Larregui and Vasquez responded to a domestic violence call in Marina Village, only to uncover a
marijuana sales operation in the apartment.
Six years ago, Larregui and Sean Lynch were nearly run over by the driver of a stolen car when they tried to stop it. Both officers fired at the occupants, wounding
DELMONTE, Warren G. DelMonte, age 56 of Shelton, entered into eternal rest on September 5, 2011 at St. Vincent's Hospital.
He was the beloved husband of Rebecca DelMonte, and the loving father of Nick and Michael DelMonte. Warren was born in Manhattan
on July 1, 1955 son of the late Roy and Evelyn (Del Gaudio) DelMonte. In 1990 he began his career as a Police Officer
for the City of Bridgeport and later became a detective in 1995. During Warren's time on the force he was a member of both
the Fugitive Task Force and Narcotics & Vice. Detective DelMonte was a gun enthusiast who loved playing golf and most
importantly spending time with his family. He is the adoring brother of Dorienne DelMonte. Friends and family may call at
the Riverview Funeral Home on Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Riverview Funeral Home, 390 River Road, Shelton. His funeral
procession will leave the funeral home on Friday at 9:45 a.m. for a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m. in St. Joseph Church,
Shelton. Burial will follow at Riverside Cemetery, Shelton. Memorial contributions may be made to The Lustgarden Foundation,
1111 Stewart Avenue, Bethpage, New York 11714. Condolences may be left to Warren's family at www.riverviewfh.com
Bridgeport set to hire 20 police officers
10:12 p.m., Wednesday, September 28, 2011 (Connecticut POST)
BRIDGEPORT -- One year after recruiting efforts began,
Bridgeport is set to hire 20 police officers with the help of a $5 million federal stimulus grant. The grant is administered
under the COPS, or Community-Oriented Policing Services program, and will pay for the salaries and benefits of the 20 officers
over three years.
"The addition of 20 new officers to the Bridgeport Police Department, thanks to this federal program, will enhance the department's community policing and overall crime prevention efforts,"
said Police Chief Joseph Gaudett.
The officers will serve as part of the city's Strategic Enforcement Team, which focuses on preventing and reducing
teen, gang and drug-related crimes.
"This grant means 20 new cops on the street, 20 new jobs and a safer Bridgeport,"
said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes. "As tough economic times squeeze local police budgets and make it more difficult to keep crime rates low, this grant
will help the Bridgeport Police Department protect our neighborhoods, families and businesses."
"We are very
thankful to Congressman Himes' efforts in securing these funds, which will help improve public safety in our city," said
Mayor Bill Finch. "We look forward to bringing in 20 new officers to protect and serve the residents of Bridgeport."
city has seen a long-term decline in violent crime in recent years, but after dipping in 2009 the homicide total increased
to 22 in 2010. On Tuesday, the city recorded its 15th homicide for the year when a woman was found dead in her Madison Avenue
Police Union Endorses Foster
From the Foster campaign:
President Charles Paris, Vice President
Bernard Webb, and the executive board of Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159 have voted unanimously to endorse Democratic candidate
for mayor of Bridgeport Mary-Jane Foster. Local 1159 represents over 400 police officers in Connecticut’s largest city.
Bridgeport has the largest police force in Connecticut.
“Mary-Jane brings a great deal of energy
and new ideas to our city,” explained Paris. “In this economy, Bridgeport needs a leader who understands the important
role that public safety plays in securing needed growth and development. We look forward to working with Mary-Jane to help
Bridgeport and its residents move forward.”
“It is clear that my message about public safety and its connection
to economic development and quality of life hit home with the union and that we’re on the same page,” stated Foster.
“To stabilize taxes, Bridgeport needs to jumpstart development and that cannot happen unless people feel safe and secure.
Public safety is a basic building block to any successful municipality.
These brave men and women put their lives on
the line each and every day to protect and serve the residents and visitors to our city. They deserve our utmost respect and
that hasn’t happened under the Finch administration.”
City police union files grievance over deputy chief's leave
Michael P. Mayko, Staff
Writer (Connecticut POST)
Updated 11:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 13, 2011
-- The city's police union has filed a grievance charging that Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. and the city violated the union contract in imposing an administrative leave on Deputy Chief James Honis.
Honis, a 41-year veteran of the department, was placed on paid administrative leave by the chief on May 24 while under
investigation for a "serious criminal" matter, the chief said in a news release. Sources said Honis was placed on
paid leave after a veteran police lieutenant filed a complaint that Honis and other unnamed police officers had obstructed
the investigation of a prostitute's murder 34 years ago, sources said.
Chuck Paris, president of Local 1159, said he
is seeking an expedited hearing before the state Labor Department's Board of Mediation and Arbitration.
"We believe this has been totally mishandled by the city and Chief Gaudett," Paris said. "We are seeking
a quick resolution."
Honis was required to turn in his badge and gun and clean out his desk.
Paris said the
nearly two-month long administrative leave "constitutes a long time." He said the conditions of the leave and how
it is being handled are different from other administrative leaves imposed.
He said he has not yet heard from the chief
or the Office of the City Attorney.
Nor has John Robert Gulash, Honis' lawyer.
"We've received no notification of the nature of the allegation which resulted in the administrative
leave," Gulash said.
He declined to comment on the police union's action.
The outside agency investigating
the allegation is the FBI, which for the past two years has been investigating allegations from Bridgeport police officers
that confiscated drugs, particularly nitrous oxide, seized at the 2009 Gathering of the Vibes music festival in Seaside Park
were mishandled. Honis supervised police activity at the event that year.
Additionally, they have been questioning towing
operators about Honis' relationship with towing firms.
Shortly before Honis was placed on administrative leave, Gaudett
received a report compiled by Police Lt. Thomas Lula alleging that Honis, along with at least two other former cops, was involved in obstructing the investigation into the June
22, 1977, murder of Anita McIntosh. No arrest was made in that murder.
Honis has denied any wrongdoing and not been charged with any crime.
the contract with the police union, grievances first go to the chief and the city's Labor Relations Department. If a resolution
is not reached, the grievance is forwarded to the state Labor Department by the union's legal team.
The Board of Police Commissioners becomes involved if the chief imposes a suspension of more than 30 days on an officer. Administrative leave carries a separate
set of rules.
Neither Gaudett nor the Office of the City Attorney responded to requests for comment Wednesday.
Michael P. Mayko at 203-330-6286 or by email at MMayko@ctpost.com. You can follow him on twitter at MMayko2011.
Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/City-police-union-files-grievance-over-deputy-1464635.php#ixzz1S3FpRHlc
Photos from Police Memorial Ground Breaking-click here
Written by The Bridgeport News It began in April of 2010
with an Open House announcing the City of Bridgeport was starting the process for a new class of police officers. Initially
the city received more than 2,100 applications. Today, the 25 finalists began their formal training.
Monday, 25 April 2011 17:39
The first Bridgeport police class since 2008 opened with some physical training and then lots of paperwork at the Bridgeport
Police Training Academy, located in the former Newfield School building.
The highlight of the day for the khaki-clad
candidates came mid-afternoon when they were sworn in by Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. The ,mayor and Police Chief Joseph L.
Gaudett Jr. addressed the 26 cadets.
Of the group, 25 will become Bridgeport patrol officers, and one is a member of
the Milford Police Department.
The cadets snapped to attention as Mayor Finch welcomed them.
is an exciting day for you, it is even more exciting for us,” Finch said.
They all raised their right hands as
the Mayor swore them in. At the conclusion of the swearing-in those who came to the ceremonies, including some members of
the city council, police commission and police department, all gave the candidates a round of applause.
the class silently stood at attention, the mayor took over and told them, “I order you to give yourselves a round of
applause”, which they did.
Then the mayor went on to remind the cadets to, “give a round of applause to
President Obama and Congress as well for helping us pay your salaries.”
The city received more than $4.8 million
in federal funding under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) hiring program, which will pay the salaries of 20
of the 25 new Bridgeport officers for the next three years.
Gaudett told the 23 men and three women that they should
feel proud of themselves for getting this far. “It’s been a long road for all of us, and I look forward to working
with you. Give it your all, listen and learn,” he said.
Captain Robert Sapiro is in charge of the Training Division
and said today is the first day of 26 weeks of grueling physical, mental and emotional instruction. “It’s never
easy to train to do something new, particularly in the public safety field,” he said.
This class comes from diverse
backgrounds. Two are attorneys, one is a former border patrol officer, and they come from several states, one as far away
Gaudett said he expects they will be out driving their own patrol cars in the first quarter of 2012. Presently
there are just under 400 officers in the Bridgeport Police Department.
After three decades, city regains full control of police force
Loh, Staff Writer (Connecticut POST)
Published: 10:50 p.m., Monday, December 20, 2010
BRIDGEPORT -- Moments after the official swearing-in of the city's new police chief Monday afternoon, Mayor Bill Finch grabbed Joseph Gaudett Jr. by the shoulder.
"He's coming in at just the right time," Finch said, "because it's a normal
Gaudett, a 28-year department veteran, was nodding his head. He knew he would soon inherit
more power over the police force than any chief he's served under in his career.
That became evident hours earlier,
when U.S. District Judge Janet Arterton declared that the federal government's 27-year oversight of Bridgeport's police department has come to an end. Her announcement
capped a 17-month transition period, and Arterton said she will submit a written decision on the matter before the new year.
ruling returns to the police chief the power to administer, assign and discipline his officers -- powers which were revoked
after a federal judge ruled in 1983 that the department was discriminating against its minority officers.
time, the late U.S. District Judge T.F. Gilroy Daly had just learned during a weeklong trial that all but one of Bridgeport's 33 black officers were assigned to patrol the city's
most dangerous neighborhoods, with the remaining officer working in the record room. None had a supervisory position.
Daly transferred oversight of the department's handling of its minority officers to a special master, and selected New Haven
attorney William Clendenen for the job. One of Clendenen's chief duties was to hear all complaints of racial discrimination from within the department.
The city was forced to pay Clendenen for his services.
Clendenen served in that role for nearly three decades.
He did not return a phone call Monday seeking comment.
While under federal oversight, the department experienced
a boom in minority participation -- both in numbers and in those officers' ascendancy to higher ranks -- Gaudett said Monday
that it has hurt his ability to transform the way officers conduct business.
"At one point every nine months,
every officer would have to rotate through a particular beat," he said, referring to the officers' neighborhood assignments.
"That didn't lend itself to community policing, because you have so little time to get to know your area. But now we'll
have the ability to make assignments and to leave an officer in a beat."
The police chief will now also handle
any officers' complaints of racial discrimination which, he and Finch were quick to point out, have dropped considerably in
Things were different in 1970, when the handful of black officers on the force formed the Bridgeport
Guardians, which spearheaded the legal action against the department. The Guardians filed its first suit against the department
in 1972, according to Ted Meekins, a retired black officer who was on hand Monday afternoon.
"When we started, there were 10 black officers
and no Hispanic or woman officers," the 69-year-old said. "And there were no promotions for us. No blacks above
the rank of patrolman."
A decade later, the Guardians, having retained the services of the Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder law firm, won the landmark trial that ushered in the federal oversight.
Asked to reflect on the Guardians' four
decades of effort, Meekins said: "We went from not being able to patrol in white communities, from being limited to housing
projects, to where we are today. We've had two black police chiefs and one Hispanic chief, and I'm looking forward to better
Then he draped his arm around the Guardians' current president, Lt. Lonnie Blackwell, and added, "I see victory."
Blackwell joined the police force 10 years ago, he said, and was promoted
to his current rank about three years ago.
"For me, this is a fresh start," Blackwell said. "We
like to see the department reflect the demographics of the city."
He said he thinks the current department
succeeds in that area, estimating that it has nearly 60 black officers in a department of about 400 officers. That equates
to about 15 percent, while the 2000 U.S. Census reported that nearly one-third of Bridgeport's residents are black. Blackwell said there are now about 140 Hispanic officers.
addition to racial balance in the department, Meekins has another reason for thinking positive. Eyeing Gaudett across the
mayor's office Monday, he recalled a time in the early 1980s. "I was Joe's training officer," he said with a smile.
Gaudett named Bridgeport police chief
Daniel Tepfer, Staff
Writer (Connecticut Post)
Published: 11:08 p.m., Friday, December 17, 2010
BRIDGEPORT -- Joe Gaudett Jr. is not acting anymore.
The 28-year veteran of the city's police force, who has been acting chief since October
2008, was appointed its new chief Friday, besting two other finalists, one from Texas and the other from Delaware.
Bill Finch, who made the selection after a search that began earlier this year, said while all three candidates were eminently qualified
to fill the $123,551 five-year position, Gaudett's familiarity with the workings of the department and his participation in
the city's Take Back The Night anti-crime crusade put him over the top.
"I was really impressed with Joe's
interaction with the public during those walks," Finch said. "I sleep well at night knowing this is now Joe's department."
the 50-year-old Gaudett quickly pointed out that it has basically been his department for the past two years. He was appointed
acting police chief Oct. 15, 2008, following the resignation of Bryan Norwood.
"I'm honored to have been chosen to lead a great organization and I'm looking forward to working with the mayor
to make Bridgeport the safest big city in Connecticut," he said.
But Gaudett also acknowledged that there
have been some mighty big bumps in the road during his tenure as top cop. These "bumps" include the recent firing
of a senior officer and the suspension of four others for covering up the drunken driving crash of one of the officers, the
suspension of another senior officer for making a racial slur over the police radio, the arrest of the department's arson
investigator for allegedly hiring someone to torch her car, out-of-control police overtime and a rise in the city's murder rate.
have a chief who is going to be asking for stricter discipline in the police department and he will have my full backing to
be as strict as he needs to be in routing out bad apples in the Police Department," Finch said.
certainly makes it easier," added Gaudett. "Discipline should be swift and fair and I've tried to make every effort
to try and stay on top of it."
Gaudett, who was chosen from among 39 candidates, said the problem with overtime
is being addressed and he expects this year's numbers to be well below the overtime costs of previous years.
city is also in the process of coming out from under a decades-old federal anti-discrimination mandate that had a federal
judge place a special master over the police department. Gaudett said the department has made huge strides in correcting the
problems of the past.
"It's important for people to feel they are being treated fairly, and that's been an
important hallmark for me and I will continue to do that," he said.
Gaudett, who gained a reputation in the
department as its "tech cop," said improvement to the department's technology will be a major part of his long-term
strategy for the department. He has already overseen the overhaul of the department's communication center, although who will
actually be running it -- civilians or police officers -- is still being negotiated. He said his next mission will be to set
up surveillance cameras in public areas around the city. He said he favors putting cameras on buildings where they can capture
crimes in process, rather than in police cars. The cameras will be partially funded by a federal grant.
cities, such as Chicago, have done it with great success," he said.
Gaudett said he also wants to get away
from having police officers chase calls to instead having them solve problems.
"If we take officers away from
having to go from one call to another, we will have them available to put more problems to bed," he said.
confident that acting chief Gaudett will be able to make a successful transition from his acting role to that of permanent
chief," said the Rev. Simon Castillo, the police chief search committee's chairman. "We were pleased with all the candidates we presented to the mayor and
believe we made the best choice."
Gaudett was born in Bridgeport and attended St. Augustine's School through
eighth grade. He graduated from Fairfield College Preparatory School, then attended Fairfield University and the University of Bridgeport.
He joined the Bridgeport police force as a patrolman in 1983.
Gaudett, who has been married 25 years and
has two daughters aged 21 and 12, comes from a family of police officers. His father, Joseph L. Gaudett Sr., was a Bridgeport police officer who retired in 1980, and his grandfather served for nearly 40 years as a railroad police
officer. His older sister is retired from the Bridgeport force and another sister is married to a retired sergeant.
city charter demands that would-be chiefs have at least 10 years of experience in urban law-enforcement and five years in
a command position. The candidates must come from communities with at least 80,000 people and a minority population of at
least 25 percent.
Police sergeant honored for his work in helping solve city's worst crimes
Michael P. Mayko, Staff Writer
Published: 04:18 p.m., Sunday, December
BRIDGEPORT -- Frankie Estrada, Jr., Adrian and Russell Peeler, Aaron Harris, Quinne Powell, Edwin Sanchez, Luke Jones -- the names read like a who's who of the city's biggest and baddest drug dealers.
But they all have one thing
in common. All are behind bars partly because of the efforts of Police Sgt. Juan J. Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, a 23-year member of the department and a 14-year veteran of FBI Task Forces, was honored recently by U.S.
Attorney David Fein with a lifetime achievement award for exceptional contributions to law enforcement during a ceremony in New Haven.
only given once a year and it's the highest award the U.S. Attorney's office bestows on law enforcement," said James Glasser, a former federal prosecutor who supervised the U.S. Attorney's Bridgeport office during many of the cases Gonzalez worked.
"I can think of no more deserving officer than J.J."
While Gonzalez, 49, admitted its " a great honor"
to receive the award, he quickly added that "it's a testament to the work of a whole lot of other people -- detectives,
federal agents, prosecutors. There should be 1,000 other names on this award -- all people I was fortunate enough to work
with on these cases."
Several federal agents who have since been reassigned out of Connecticut drove back
to attend the ceremony.
"I think its great -- great for J.J., but also great for the department," added
Police Capt. James Viadero. "He's an outstanding sergeant and he's been at the forefront of many of our biggest cases. But just as important is
the way he's helped develop an outstanding working relationship between our department and federal agencies. Everyone saw
how effectively that paid off in the investigation and arrest of Faisal Shahzad. J.J. was one of our guys out there."
Shahzad, who lived on Sheridan Street, was arrested just two days after
he loaded a sports utility vehicle with a three-stage bomb in the hopes of killing and maiming dozens in a Saturday dinner
time crowd on New York's Time Square last year. The bomb failed to explode. However, evidence left behind enabled law enforcement to trace the car to Bridgeport
and then to Shahzad, who had been trained by the Pakistani Taliban. Shahzad pleaded guilty to numerous federal charges and
is serving a life sentence without parole.
Gonzalez, a tall, burly man, who looks like he'd fit in easily as a
member of the New York Giants' linebacking crew, grew up in the former Father Panik Village, the city's roughest, deadliest housing project. He graduated from Waltersville School and Harding High School before joining the Bridgeport Police Department in January 1985.
His early days were spent patrolling the city's highest crime rate areas. After five years, he
found himself being rotated into the Tactical Narcotics Team.
"About 90 percent of my job was surveillances," Gonzalez said.
Within three years he was promoted
to detective. In 1996, he found himself assigned to the FBI's Fugitive Task Force.
"One thing that strikes
you about J.J. is he's big and he's quiet," said Alex Hernandez, another former federal prosecutor who supervised the U.S. Attorney's Bridgeport office. "He's very low-key but maybe
that's the key to his success. He converses just as easily with street criminals as he does with agents, prosecutors and judges.
I often thought of him as a duck -- calm on the surface but underneath the feet are always moving."
feet moved very quickly on Jan. 7, 1999.
That's day police were called to a heart-breaking scene in an Earl Street
duplex. There, they found a mother and her 8-year-old son murdered, execution-style. Fingers quickly pointed to Russell Peeler,
the son of a deceased Bridgeport police officer. Peeler was awaiting trial for murdering the mother's boyfriend in a barbershop
drug dispute. The boy was the state's key witness. The key was uncovering evidence that linked Peeler to the crime.
joint Bridgeport police and FBI task force was assembled with Gonzalez as a member. "Whatever we needed done, J.J. was
there, ready to do it," said Glasser, who headed the federal drug investigation of Peeler while now-retired Fairfield
State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict supervised the murder investigation.
Glasser recalls how they received a tip the day before Thanksgiving 1999
that the gun used to kill the pair was tossed into Long Island Sound just beyond the Seaside Park archway.
a day when most people would be preparing for the holiday," Glasser recalled, "J.J. was out there rounding up a
search team, getting search lights and looking for metal detectors. He had the team working until 2 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.
That's the kind of dedication he has. Neither time nor his own life was an issue to him. He wanted to find the gun that killed
the little boy."
Unfortunately, it wasn't found that day. But the task force's work in flipping gang members
laid the killings at the feet of Adrian Peeler, the trigger man, who was prodded by his brother to commit the murders. Both were convicted. Russell was given the death
penalty, while Adrian is serving 20 years.
It also led to Gonzalez's permanent assignment to the FBI's Safe Streets
Task Force in Bridgeport, which specializes in investigating violent crimes.
"He's the glue that holds the
task force together," Hernandez said. "The task force model does not produce big results immediately and requires
a lot of overtime as investigators work towards the big payoff. He's been responsible in many cases for keeping other agencies involved."
the local level, Viadero said Gonzalez supervises Bridgeport officers assigned to the FBI's Safe Streets, U.S. Drug Enforcement
and State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Forces.
One of those is Det. Rick Donaldson.
"J.J. is not the type of guy who sits behind a desk," said Donaldson. "He's out there knocking on doors,
making arrests, participating in car chases. He's a working sergeant."
But just as important, according to
Fein, Glasser and Hernandez, is Gonzalez's historical knowledge of the criminals who work the city's streets and projects.
"Sgt. Gonzalez's unparalleled historical knowledge of every Bridgeport murderer, gang member and drug dealer --
including the cars they drove, who they dated, where they lived and where they worked has proven -- and continues to prove--
indispensable to each and every task force case," the U.S. Attorney said.
Fein related a story told him by
FBI Special Agent Jon Hosney, who worked Bridgeport gang cases before being chosen to head the FBI's Terrorism Task Force
in Connecticut. Apparently Hosney expressed frustration to Gonzalez about the dead ends he was hitting while investigating
Estrada, who headed the Terminators, a deadly organization of heroin traffickers. "Sgt. Gonzalez calmly looked Hosney
in the eyes and said we will make a case against Frank Estrada," Fein said.
Within a year, Estrada and 20 of his highest-ranking associates were indicted on racketeering,
drug trafficking and murder charges. Estrada later became one of the federal government key cooperators in developing dozens
of other cases against violent drug gangs and distributors.
"He's able to build relationships with the people
he investigates," said Donaldson. "Many of them continue to stay in contact with him when they are in prison or
move out of state."
That's because, Glasser said, "J.J. is a man of his word. He'll never cross anyone."
40 city cop candidates progress
Published: 11:37 p.m., Sunday, November 28, 2010 (Connecticut Post)
DGEPORT -- Three hundred
and sixty-four men and woman have passed the first step to become police officers here -- unfortunately the city can only
hire about two dozen of them.
So the top 40 candidates have been chosen to move on to the final steps in the process,
fingerprint and background checks.
"One of my concerns when we began this process was that we include as many
Bridgeport residents as possible, and in the end, field a recruit class that is reflective of the community they will serve.
We have achieved our goal, and I am proud of the extensive and exhaustive process we have undertaken," said Mayor Bill Finch. "I look forward to greeting the recruits on their first day at the academy and observing their progress." The
40 semi-finalists include 21 city residents and 19 non-residents; 30 percent are Hispanic, 20 percent are African-American,
50 percent are caucasian and nine are women.
The recruitment process began nearly a year ago. Last March, applicants
were encouraged to apply in person or online, and 2,200 potential recruits responded. Physical agility tests were held in
May and after that 1,200 were invited to the written examination held in July at Central High School. Of that number 670 took the written exam, and of those 454 passed.
Those who passed the written examination were
invited to an oral examination held in late October, which was designed by I/O Solutions. The oral exam panels included ranking
Bridgeport police officers as well as human resource professionals from the state and city. This was the first time the city
hosted an entry-level oral exam as part of the testing process. Nearly 400 oral examinations were given, and 364 candidates
passed the oral examination.
Eventually, a class of 20-25 recruits will be selected to attend the Bridgeport Police Training Academy by early February. The training academy program will last for approximately six months.
"We want to thank
President Obama and Congressman Jim Himes for bringing $4.8 million to the city to fund the salaries for 20 of these officers for three years," said Finch. "This
class will help bolster our force and assist the chief in putting more officers on the streets."
City narrows search for police chief to three candidates
Loh, Staff Writer (Connecticut Post)
Published: 12:16 a.m., Friday, October 22, 2010
BRIDGEPORT -- After six months of searching, the city has narrowed its list of potential new police chiefs to three,
one of whom is acting Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. The two other finalists are working in Texas and Delaware.
A 27-year veteran here, Gaudett was named acting
police chief in October 2008, when the former chief, Byron Norwood, resigned and took a similar job in Norfolk, Va. Gaudett said he was "thrilled and honored" to be named a finalist
on Thursday, and to have the chance to steer the department for the next five years.
His competition for the spot
will come from Joel Fitzgerald, 39, police chief of Missouri City, Texas; and Rick Gregory, 48, former police chief and of New Castle County, Del.
Mayor Bill Finch will interview the finalists in coming weeks and select the chief.
Reached by phone on Thursday, both Gregory
and Fitzgerald said one of their top priorities would be to strengthen this city's community policing efforts.
also stressed their experience at taking over a department they're unfamiliar with.
Fitzgerald took the Texas job
in spring 2009, after 17 years with the Philadelphia Police Department. He spent many of his Philadelphia years in the narcotics division, he said, working in cooperation with federal and state
If named Bridgeport's chief, he said, he would try to expand the city's ties to the
federal and state agencies.
Asked why he applied for the Bridgeport job after just less than two years in Texas,
he said Bridgeport is more similar to Philadelphia in terms of crime trends, and that its size and East Coast location was appealing.
would be coming from a department of 125 employees to a place where you're upwards of 500," he said. "It's definitely
a positive career move. If I did not believe in myself, did not believe I've developed the talents to run an organization,
I would never have left Philadelphia."
Meanwhile, Gregory was police chief of New Castle County from 2006
to 2009. He was promoted last September to chief administrative officer for the county executive, Chris Coons. Gregory also serves as the county's acting public safety director. His boss, Coons, is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware. Coons registered an 11-point lead in a recent Rasmussen poll. Gregory said he plans to return to police work.
spent my entire career in law enforcement, save for the last year," he said. "It's a passion and a love and I've
got fond memories of being police chief here."
Gregory started his career as an officer in Florida. He served
22 years with the state's Highway Patrol before assuming the post as police chief in New Castle County. He said this department's
most pressing issue is the budget.
"I'm absolutely familiar with how to manage a tight budget," he said,
"and how to build a tight budget, and also try to deliver the same level or enhance your level of service delivery with
a limited budget."
Asked if he would try to "shake up" the Bridgeport department, he said no: "It's more about tweaking the department's vision a little bit and getting people on board, which sounds
easier than it is."
In April, the city hired two consulting firms to conduct a nationwide search. The consultants
received 39 applications, which they narrowed down to six semifinalists. Then, a 10-member panel of city officials, local
business owners and community group members selected the three finalists.
The city charter demands that would-be
chiefs have at least 10 years of experience in urban law-enforcement and five years in a command position. The candidates
must come from communities with at least 80,000 people and a minority population of at least 25 percent.
City told to reassign police to dispatch center
P. Mayko, Staff Writer (Connecticut Post)
Published: 11:00 p.m., Tuesday, August 24,
BRIDGEPORT -- The city must train and return police officials to supervise its Emergency Communications Operations Center now staffed by civilians, according to a ruling by the state Board of Labor Relations.
The board found that the city violated its 2008-12 collective bargaining agreement with Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159 by transferring five sergeants and a captain in April from dispatch duties when it combined the police, fire and medical
services dispatch operations into one communication center at 581 North Washington Ave.
The center, which opened
April 29, is staffed by civilian employees under the direction of Doree Price, another civilian.
The board's ruling,
if it stands, would return the five sergeants and place the center under the supervision of a police lieutenant or captain.
also awards back pay, overtime to the affected officers as well as requires the city to pay the union's legal fees and court
costs. That amount is expected to exceed $20,000.
Lawrence Osborne, the city's director of labor relations, said the
city plans to "vigorously appeal" the board's ruling in Superior Court.
"While we have managed to make substantial savings in overtime by efficient use of personnel," Osborne said,
"the city still believes that we have appropriately staffed the emergency communications center. We will, of course,
comply with the ultimate decision and, as always, we will continue our efforts to provide the best services at the lowest
cost to the taxpayers of Bridgeport."
The city claimed during hearings before the board that one of the reasons
for combining the centers into one facility and staffing it with civilians is because of its $654 million debt.
immensely proud of our Emergency Operations Center," said Mayor Bill Finch. "We think it's run efficiently and protects our public safety."
The mayor said he is disappointed by
the ruling "because we believe that it will dramatically increase the cost to the taxpayers."
terms of the 18-page ruling, the city must immediately begin training the sergeants formerly assigned to dispatch duties and
then once training is completed reassign them to the center. It must also assign a lieutenant or captain to be the officer
in charge of the center.
The city argued that the collective bargaining agreement allows it to replace or relieve
the sergeants and the officer in charge with civilian supervisors in the case of extreme emergency -- the emergency being
its $654 million debt.
"Section 9 unequivocally only permits the city to replace police officers in the case
of extreme emergency, not sergeants nor the office in charge," the board ruled. "Further, we are not persuaded that
the city's fiscal problems constitute an extreme emergency as contemplated by the collective bargaining agreement. Logic dictates
that the extreme emergency contemplated by the parties in the collective bargaining agreement is one that requires immediate
and swift action. The city has been considering replacing the separate fire and police dispatch centers as early as 2003."
been trying to negotiate with the city from the beginning," said Sgt. Charles "Chuck" Paris, president of the
police union. "Now the Board of Labor Relations found the city was wrong and issued a cease-and-desist order for failing
to abide by the 2008-12 collective bargain agreement."
The ruling also requires the city to bargain with the
union regarding its hiring of civilian employees, rather than police officers, to run the center.
The city has
30 days to advise the board of steps it has taken to comply with this order.
Sick leave policy revisions for Bridgeport police on hold
Frampton, Staff Writer (Connecticut POST)
Published: 10:50 p.m., Tuesday, July 20, 2010
-- A new sick and injury leave policy for the city's police department will wait another month, after more questions came
up during a discussion Tuesday night at a meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners.
Lt. William Ron Bailey wants to put in writing the department's ability to request, at any time, an independent medical evaluation to confirm the
doctor's note that officers must provide if they're out sick more than two consecutive days.
He says there are
several officers taking advantage of the system -- sometimes taking paid sick time for five or six months at a time or calling
out extensively month after month.
Bailey said in June the department had an unwritten practice of waiting six
months to verify an officer's claim. But since Bailey received legal advice in June that he could go ahead and request IMEs,
he has done so in two cases so far and plans to do it more often.
"It's nothing that I'm not doing already,"
he told the board on Tuesday. "I'd just like it in writing."
"That's our preference as well,"
said board Chairwoman Theresa Brown, who has expressed support for the concept.
Bailey presented the board with a revised version of the policy he
showed them last month, when he first made the case for unrestricted ability to request independent evaluations.
removed a 20-day period he'd originally included as the point at which an IME could be sought, saying that he doesn't want
to wait that long in certain cases, and "simplified" the proposal.
But others felt it wasn't simple enough,
leaving too much room for subjective interpretation.
"How far does it go?" Commissioner Edwin Farrow asked. "One day, I have the sniffles and you want to send me for an IME?"
Sgt. Charles Paris, union president, agreed.
"It's going to be too subjective," he said. "We are contesting who and
when and why people are being sent."
Paris added that there is an appeals process in place for officers deemed
by administration to be among the "excessive" or "chronic" sick or injured that isn't included in the proposal.
told the board he would consider history and patterns of apparent abuse before ordering an IME, but didn't specify a time
period, saying instead he planned to handle each matter on a "case-by-case basis."
City Attorney Mark Anastasi said he'd like to see wording added that will also designate the evaluations as appropriate for determining whether officers
are permanently disabled from their duties.
"It would appear to me that (the policy) is leading to the chief's
efforts to retire individuals," he said.
Anastasi added that an IME is not a sanction against officers, but
simply a way to get information, and shouldn't be an unreasonable imposition.
Anastasi said Brown suggested that
Bailey and Paris work on the proposal together and try to reach consensus.
"I know you want to get this resolved,"
she said, "but I think we're making a lot of headway."
"Yes, let's take the time to do it right,"
said Bailey, adding that he will revisit and rewrite the proposal a second time and return with it to the board's next meeting.
K-9 team adds newest member, but unit is in flux
Staff Writer (Connecticut Post)
Published: 03:06 p.m., Saturday, July 3, 2010
-- When city police Officer William Simpson first brought home his new partner, Balu, all hell broke lose.
The 18-month-old, 102-pound German shepherd made
a beeline for the cat; the family's pet Rottweiler attacked Balu and Simpson's wife screamed.
thing was introducing him to the household. That was a nightmare." Simpson said. "That really tested my commitment."
was Simpson's second K-9 partner in his bid to become a full-fledged K-9 handler. His first, carefully introduced to the family
in a neutral spot, didn't cut it in training because he was scared of shiny floors. That necessitated a sudden shift to a
new dog, without the benefit of a neutral meeting.
"When I got him, he was just insane," Simpson said.
"It was hard, but he's really squared away."
After 14 weeks of training, Simpson and Balu hit the streets
last month as the newest members of the Bridgeport Police K-9 Unit, which boasts five officers, a sergeant supervisor and
their canine partners.
They help patrol officers with building searches, criminal and missing person tracks, narcotics
searches and more. Dogs' extra-sensitive smell, hearing and instincts come in handy, and their teeth help to nab fleeing suspects
or encourage those considering flight not to bother.
Typically, there's one K-9 officer per shift with some overlap.
And, rather than working a specific section of town, they respond city-wide.
But the members of that unit aren't the
only policemen with dogs in the city. A lieutenant and sergeant have them, too -- but in a Twilight Zone kind of way.
joined the K-9 unit as it is mired in confusion over who is eligible for membership and why, with no clear-cut structure in
place regarding what should happen to K-9 officers who get promoted.
Sgt. Kevin Gilleran, who became head of the unit in January 2008, lost his position as supervisor of the unit when he was named lieutenant last
November. Pasquale Feola lost his place in the unit when he was promoted to sergeant in January. But both still have their dogs.
Sgt. Joseph Morales, the new unit supervisor, was promoted that same night as Feola and also booted to patrol, temporarily. Then, however, the
more senior sergeant slated to take over as supervisor dropped out of training after the first week and Morales, who has seniority
over Feola, got his spot.
Now, Gilleran and Feola are both patrol supervisors first and foremost, and use their
dogs when they can and when a full-time K-9 officer isn't available.
The police union has filed a grievance over
Sgt. Charles Paris, union president, said in June that all eight "great handlers" should be in the unit.
makes training and ... the handling of the dogs more difficult for the officers who are not in the unit," he said. "Their
skills are not being utilized properly. It's harming not only the handlers, it's harming the dogs because there are times
the dogs are sitting idle. We do not want the handlers losing the dogs, but we do need to sit down and negotiate a fair agreement."
exams come around periodically, based on retirements and openings. Typically, officers who wish to rise in the ranks jump
at any chance to take an exam, because it's anybody's guess when the next one will happen, and often the actual promotions
don't happen for many months.
Gilleran, Paris said, wasn't told he was being promoted until four hours before his
promotion ceremony, and therefore had little chance to mull what may happen with his dog.
"The city is not
very organized as far as this is concerned," Paris said. "There's no policy and there's no agreement. In my 17 years,
(Gilleran's case) is the first time I've seen this where an existing K-9 was able to get promoted and keep the dog. The way
the promotions were done at the time, the city never gave the officers an ultimatum: `You get promoted and you could lose
Lt. John Cueto, a former K-9 handler who now supervises the elite Emergency Services Unit that includes three of current handlers, including Simpson, said it doesn't make sense to retire young police dogs or take
them away from their handlers after the time and exp ense invested.
Police K-9 training, operated by the State Police at no charge to municipal departments, is no joke. It's an intense, physically and mentally grueling boot camp -- and some
Because of the deep bond built between dog and handler, switching a dog to a new handler could, theoretically,
happen early in the dog's career but is not often done, he said.
Now, people bid for the unit and are chosen based
on seniority, which Cueto said "really isn't the right way to put a round peg in a round hole" because K-9 handling
"isn't for everyone." The union is not willing to negotiate on seniority, Paris said, which means that, if K-9 officers
were allowed to be promoted and keep their dogs -- the average working life of a police dog is about eight years -- while
others with seniority could bid for the position, the unit could grow too large. "We agree that that could be a concern,"
Paris said. "That's the gamble the city would have to consider."
Officers care for their dogs outside
of work and have to train eight hours a month and get recertified every six months, so they work seven-hour shifts on the
street instead of eight.
"It's gotten complicated," Cueto said. "We're not sending these dogs home
and making them pets; it just doesn't make sense. Ultimately, it's going to become a matter of negotiation with the union."
dogs are typically European-bred, Alpha males chosen for their intelligence, fearlessness, athleticism and "ball drive"
-- K-9 lingo for work ethic. They're raised to be aggressive working dogs, not pets, and many have never bonded with a human
before their police handlers. Balu bit Simpson a few times during training and that's not unusual.
Each dog costs
about $6,000. Plus, there's the cost of equipment and four months of pay for the officer while he's training and not working
on the street, said Cueto.
"Everyone realizes how important the dogs are," Simpson said. "We have
some of the best K-9 handlers in the state, by far. You see these guys and coming and they save the day -- I always wanted
to do it. The best thing about (Balu) is that no one can pick him up and use him against me."
A major in the
U.S. Army Reserves who's seen his share of tough challenges deployed overseas and during 10 years on the police force, Simpson
said handling and training a police dog "is probably the hardest thing I ever did."
But he stuck it out,
losing 20 pounds in the process, and Balu came out the other end of 14 weeks of training in May fairly mellow unless his handler
goes on the alert. During his first seven days of work, moreover, he performed six or seven building searches, checked the
scene of a burglar alarm, performed two tracks, and apprehended a robbery suspect and a man who sic'ed his Pit Bull on officers
responding to a report of domestic violence at his home.
Balu is not finished with his training -- his first year
of work will be most crucial, his handler said.
"I was very happy with how he performed yesterday, though,"
Simpson said last month, referring to the domestic violence suspect apprehension.
And it's a bonus that, despite
that chaotic first day, Balu is now buddies with the Rottweiler and doesn't bat an eye when one of Simpson's small daughters
pulls his ears.
Bridgeport poised to ax workers after concessions fall short
Keila Torres, Staff Writer (Connecticut POST)
Published: 11:24 p.m., Friday,
July 2, 2010
BRIDGEPORT -- Two days into the new fiscal year, the city is finalizing a list of workers to be laid off
and will begin distributing the notices next week.
"We absolutely have a game plan," acting Chief of
Staff Ruben Felipe said Friday. "It got pushed back a little bit due to the storm" on June 24.
City officials in April
gave each labor union a specific target number they expected to receive in concessions or givebacks to help close a projected
$8 million gap in the $469 million budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which began Thursday.
Felipe said only "some"
of the city's 13 labor unions have agreed to concessions, but declined to identify those unions. He also would not give details
on what concessions have been agreed on so far, or whether the givebacks are enough to prevent layoffs in any particular union.
also said because the concessions and layoffs were not in effect before the beginning of the budget year, the city's projected
$8 million budget gap will need to be "adjusted" higher because the layoffs for members of two unions will not be
effective until 30 days after those employees are notified.
"It's not a huge impact," Felipe insisted.
union President Robert Whitbread said Friday he couldn't believe the city would move forward with layoffs after refusing to negotiate with the city's firefighters.
not happy with that," Whitbread said. "We made every effort to meet with them. The last meeting we had with the
city they canceled and they have not contacted us. We never really got to sit down with them and go over the figures. We've
come up with ideas that they don't seem to want to look at."
Whitbread said the city is asking firefighters
for $1.5 million in concessions, or the equivalent of eliminating 21 positions.
Valerie Sorrentino, business manager
for the Laborers International Union of North America, Local 200, said the union is being asked for $381,000 in concessions, which would amount to 19.8 furlough days for each
of the union's 103 members.
LIUNA members expect the last employees hired by the city to receive layoff notices
because members of the union employed before June 2009 were promised no layoffs before Dec. 31, 2010, in contract negotiations
last year. According to Sorrentino, about eight people have been hired in LIUNA positions since then.
Bridgeport unions agreed to $4.5 million in concessions through furloughs and wage freezes to help close a $20 million deficit
in the 2009-10 budget year. Only the National Association of Government Employees refused givebacks and, as a consequence, 53 of the employees that union represented were issued layoff notices.
The Bridgeport police union has voted 166 to 20 tonight in favor of a “no confidence”
motion against Acting Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr., according to a police source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
symbolic action was prompted by the city’s threat of 48 layoffs in the 410-strong department, said the union president,
Sgt. Charles Paris, earlier this month.
Paris could not be reached for comment tonight.
Earlier this month, he said
union leadership was “upset” by the chief failing to address line-up on the layoffs matter within a
week of being asked, and cited difficulty in resolving other issues with him as well.
Asked to respond earlier
this month, Gaudett said he stood by his record as chief and added that he didn’t want to see layoffs, either.
Police, fire layoffs threatened in Bridgeport
Frampton, Staff Writer
Published: 09:07 p.m., Tuesday, June 15, 2010
-- The police union is balking at demands for concessions from the cash-strapped city, saying threatened layoffs of 48 officers
would risk safety and wouldn't allow the much-anticipated hiring of 20 new ones with a federal grant.
not budging," said union president Sgt. Charles Paris, as negotiations continue between the city and its unions. "(The threat of layoffs) is a smokescreen. We wouldn't be
able to protect the city if they let go 48 officers."
Still, the membership of the police union is so concerned
over the possibility of mass layoffs that 80 to 90 officers showed up to a union meeting on Monday evening -- about 50 more
than usual -- and agreed to vote on a related "no confidence" motion regarding acting Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. sometime within a week, Paris said.
Layoffs could throw a wrench in the city's plans to hire 20 new police
officers by fall with a $4.8 million federal grant. The grant must be used for new officers, and the union contract stipulates
that the newest members of the department, with 410 sworn officers, must be the first to go.
Recruitment for the
new officers ramped up in March, and now the city's website states Bridgeport has scheduled a written exam for job hopefuls
"How would they recruit ... when there's a possibility of layoffs?" Paris wondered. "The
other officers would have to be rehired first."
Other city unions are in similar situations. The fire department,
for example, may face 21 layoffs.
Labor Relations Director Lawrence Osborne wouldn't confirm the numbers of proposed layoffs, saying the release of such details at this point "would constitute
a `bad faith' bargaining effort on behalf of the city, which would be a violation of federal labor laws."
Osborne said negotiations with city unions have been ongoing since Mayor Bill Finch met with union leadership on April 5, before he publicly released his budget, to explain the amount of concessions the city
would need to close the budget gap.
"Negotiations ... will continue as long as necessary in order to either
garner concessions, or make decisions about when and if to lay off personnel if the concessions are not realized," Osborne
said. "The city has been very clear in its meetings with each union about the need for concessions in order to avert layoffs."
union president Robert Whitbread said he hopes to maintain talks with the city and is promoting ideas for savings that don't include layoffs.
the police department, however, the fire department doesn't have a contract. Whitbread said negotiations are still ongoing
for a new contract to replace the one that expired about a year ago.
The police union asked Gaudett during a June
8 meeting to discuss his position on the layoff threat, and the city's position, with rank-and-file officers, but he had not
done so by a week later, Paris said.
Paris also said the union has had difficulty since November, when he took
over as president, meeting with Gaudett to resolve smaller issues and this latest was the last straw.
very upset about it," he said. "Basically, what we got back from him was that it was between the city and the union.
We just can't resolve issues with this guy so we're definitely not going to be backing him for chief down the road. He's not
willing to back his officers up."
In response, Gaudett said he understands the union's frustration "in
these difficult times," but stands by his record as chief managing the department and its roughly $77 million budget.
have continued to move the department forward by filling promotional ranks, pursuing the `sunset' of the federal Remedy Order
and maintaining public safety in a fiscally responsible manner," he said.
"No one wants layoffs, including
me. The city and the union have worked together during past fiscal challenges and I am confident that they can do so again."
the union votes "no confidence" in the chief's leadership, it won't be the first time. The union made that symbolic
statement in 2008 against both former Chief Bryan Norwood and Finch.
Due to budgetary belt-tightening in 2008, the union agreed to two years without raises before a 3 percent
raise due in July. "We're tired of giving," Paris said.
for Bridgeport police chief, probably for a while
Noelle Frampton, Staff Writer
Published: 11:31 p.m., Monday, May 31, 2010
BRIDGEPORT -- It's been
nearly two years since the city has had a contracted police chief, and members of the police department are wondering how
much longer it will take.
The answer to that question is, "realistically ... probably through the summer,"
said city Personnel Director David Dunn. "I would be happy with September."
Joseph Gaudett Jr. has been acting chief since October 15, 2008,
six days after Bryan T. Norwood, a Bridgeport native who was chief a little more than two years, resigned to take a similar job in Richmond, Va.
is earning $119,000, according to Dunn. Norwood's annual salary was $102,793.
Prior to Norwood's appointment, Deputy
Chief Anthony Armeno served 16 months as acting chief. And at least a year elapsed before the hiring of the two chiefs before that, Dunn estimated.
never been a quick, quick process," he said. "It's a really important job -- maybe the second-most important job
in the city, some people would argue. So the city hasn't rushed into those decisions."
The City Charter requires
a national search for a new chief and does not specify a time limit that an interim chief can serve, officials said.
The charter specifies that successful candidates must have at least five years of command-level experience in a city
80,000 or larger, with a population that is at least 25 percent minorities, Dunn said. It also requires city residency within
one year of appointment.
Gaudett, a 28-year veteran of the city's police force, plans to compete for the job. His
late father served 23 years as a police officer before retiring as a sergeant in 1980. If not chosen for the permanent post,
he could return to his position as a deputy chief.
Dunn said notices inviting applications have been sent to several
professional police associations, particularly the International Association of Chiefs of Police and certain minority chiefs groups, where the job description was posted May 14.
The deadline for applications
is June 11. About 20 people have applied so far, Dunn said. The city is offering a salary ranging from $109,000 to $119,000,
with at least a bachelor's degree preferred, according to the IACP notice.
The chief is appointed by the mayor
for five years, and his or her contract can be renewed.
Police union officials and others have protested the length
of the process. In October, Officer Frank Cuccaro, the former union president, said a search for a new chief was long overdue.
"The acting chief has been very
slow in making a decision in the department because obviously, he would like to get the job when it is permanent," Cuccaro
Messages left Thursday for the current union president, Sgt. Charles Paris, were not returned.
City Councilman Andre F. Baker Jr., a member of the Public Safety Committee, agreed with Cuccaro.
He said that Gaudett has done an "excellent" job and has been remarkably accessible
to the public, attending community meetings and listening to locals' input, but might hesitate to make any major changes in
an interim position.
"We really need to get somebody in there," he said. "It's kind of awkward when
you have some guy `acting.' You want the police department to move forward."
In the neighboring suburban towns
of Fairfield, Trumbull and Stratford, the police chief selection process is traditionally much faster. Those communities don't
require an outside search, however.
In Fairfield, the Police Commission has already finished its interviews of in-house candidates and may pick a new chief to replace David Peck, who retired May 21, as soon as its June 9 meeting.
Trumbull Police Chief Thomas Kiely was chosen from within, too, after being groomed by former Chief James Berry, who left that department in March 2004 after about two years.
Dunn said the Civil Service Department hired a consulting firm experienced in municipal police chief recruitment, Georgia-based Slavin Management Consultants, to handle Bridgeport's process.
The firm will vet the applicants and present the top three to Mayor Bill Finch for a decision, as laid out in the charter.
Finch, asked last October about the status of the search for a new
chief, said he was in no hurry because Gaudett was doing a good job, reining in overtime spending and building morale in the department.
Other concerns took precedence, including the ongoing recruitment of 20 new entry-level police officers to be paid
for three years with $4.8 million in federal stimulus money.
Court Ruling Ends Police Supervisors' Union Drive
(Hartford Courant 06/01/10)
Connecticut's Supreme Court has thrown out a lower court's decision that would have allowed state
police lieutenants and captains to form a union.
The high court's 4-2 decision, released Tuesday, says those officers
meet the criteria to be considered management. That bars them from collective bargaining under state law.
high court's 4-2 decision, released Tuesday, says those officers meet the criteria to be considered management. That bars
them from collective bargaining under state law.
The ruling comes after a four-year dispute between the state Department
of Public Safety — which oversees the state police — and approximately 50 lieutenants and captains. The officers
had voted to unionize after raising concerns about morale, pay and work conditions.
A state labor board certified the
union in 2007 but state officials fought the effort, saying the supervisors should be exempt from collective bargaining.
Dispatch center gets more static, and some praise
Published: 05:44 p.m., Monday, May 10, 2010
BRIDGEPORT -- Discontent
is festering in the city's police and fire departments as each tries to adapt to a new dispatch system that some say is working
well and others call a mess.
Some rank-and-file members and union presidents in both departments are complaining
of mistakes, confusion and dangerously long delays, while administrators counter that the new system has shown only the minor
"glitches" to be expected with new software and staff.
"Some people are resistant to change,"
said Deputy Police Chief Brian McCarthy, head of administrative support services. "Calls are being dispatched the way they should be and there's no service
interruption to the public. It's just a matter of teaching old dogs new tricks."
When the staff of both dispatch
operations were converted to civilian employees and combined into one center with new equipment and software on April 29,
both unions raised an outcry at the reassignment of the police sergeants and fire lieutenants who'd previously supervised
their respective centers. Union leaders said the new civilian overseers wouldn't have the same expertise and the efficiency
of the operations would decline.
City officials said the partially grant-funded Emergency Communications Operations Center would save money and increase efficiency in responding to the 100,000 emergency calls received by fire and police dispatchers
Deputy Fire Chief Robert Petrucelli said he and other top administrators have been in regular contact with Doree Price, director of the center at 581 North Washington Ave., since fire communications were transferred there April 27.
administrators have created a special form for dispatch-related complaints, and Petrucelli said Monday afternoon that he'd
seen six or eight of them.
"There's a couple of minor issues that we've been addressing as they occur,"
he said. "But nothing catastrophic. We're just trying to work the bugs out. As soon as any kind of a glitch comes to
our attention ... right away we schedule a meeting with Doree. Everybody's working together really well."
snafu last weekend that sent firefighters to a stove fire on the wrong street -- Glenwood Avenue instead of Linwood -- was
an "isolated incident" that could have happened before the changeover, he said, adding that the mistake delayed
firefighter response by a "couple minutes" with little harm done.
Price said things are "going well,"
and she's worked with both departments and center staff to resolve issues.
"I think it's the normal growing
pains of change," she said. "This was a big change for everyone involved."
The center boasts new
computer and radio systems, replacing "antiquated" systems that hadn't been updated in 15 years at least, Price said.
Whitbread, fire union president, said dozens of forms listing complaints about dispatch were sent in from various firehouses
to administrators on Monday alone and more are being written.
"They thought enough of it to create a new document
just to talk about the incidents," Whitbread said. "I think there's more complaints than they're letting on."
officers have also complained, saying dispatchers have lost track of officers' locations and delayed dispatching calls for
"There are some major concerns," said Sgt. Charles Paris, police union president. "We're keeping track of everything."
Paris, who has filed a grievance over
the removal of five former dispatch sergeants, said the assertion that everything is working fine is "not true,"
but declined to discuss details at this point.
McCarthy said he wasn't aware of any major delays and added that,
although the new system doesn't assign an incident number to every call like the old system did, it does number and track
New Bridgeport 911 center up and running, with some static
Frampton, STAFF WRITER
Published: 12:49 p.m., Saturday, May 1, 2010
BRIDGEPORT -- A week ago, when Bridgeporters called 911 from a landline, they reached State Police and, unless they were reporting an incident on state roadways, got transferred to the city's Fire Department dispatch on Congress Street.
If need be, they were transferred again to police dispatch in the basement of City Hall.
The city has combined its emergency dispatch centers under one roof at 581 North Washington Ave. and switched
to a full civilian staff with help from a federal grant, hoping to increase efficiency, save money and update an antiquated system.
fire and police unions, however, are hopping mad that civilians have taken charge of their radio dispatches.
dispatch operations were moved to the new center on Tuesday, and police on Thursday -- not without glitches, but successfully overall.
is the culmination of an effort that began more than five years ago and was enabled by a $6 million federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant to the city in 2005, according to Doree Price, director of the new Emergency Communications Operations Center.
The consolidation -- including new equipment, technology and radios -- cost $8 million, plus $7.4 million in capital
and state grant funds for the new building and another across the street for public facilities, in a city that fields about
100,000 emergency calls a year, Price said.
The police union president, Sgt. Charles Paris, said removing the sergeants who oversaw police dispatch 24/7 risks officers' safety and may result in more misunderstandings
between officers and dispatchers.
Paris was preparing to file a grievance against the city Thursday morning when
the changeover took place. It came after many weeks of negotiations and a two-hour meeting Wednesday between union and city representatives.
pretty upset," he said. "We feel the city purposefully violated our contract. We're not going to budge when it comes
to protecting our officers and our civilians and our community."
Lawrence Osborne, the city's director of
labor relations, responded by saying, "We're involved in off-the-record negotiations with the police union regarding
this matter. To comment would be an example of bad-faith bargaining."
The center is staffed by 31 people,
nine of them supervisors with "extensive backgrounds in public safety," Price said, adding that staffing levels
remained about the same as they were before, simply combined.
At any one time, there are two supervisors overseeing
two dispatchers for fire, two for police, and five to seven call takers in the center. Eventually, all will be cross-trained
to handle both police and fire calls, which will result in more scheduling flexibility and therefore, reduced overtime costs,
The fire union tried a similar approach to the police, fighting years ago to keep five fire lieutenants
working in communications, but lost in arbitration, said fire union president, Robert Whitbread.
"We went through the same thing; we just did it sooner," he said. "We were not happy with it, we thought
our people could do the job. They've got years of experience, they know the fire service, they know the town and they know
Judging by the hiring of retired police and fire personnel, Whitbread said, "They obviously
thought that kind of experience was important, but not important enough to bring our people over."
said supervisors will, at their top step, earn the same as a fire lieutenant's base salary: $62,000.
Price said the
supervisors start at $55,000.
Most Bridgeport sergeants earn between $60,000 and $80,000 per year and, depending on
the overtime they put in, some earn more. There was plenty of overtime to be had in the old police communications center.
Longtime dispatch Sgt. Robert Bigelow, for example, routinely ranked for years among the city's top 10 wage earners with annual income well above $100,000
Paris said the five police sergeants -- until recently, there were six -- were reassigned to positions in patrol and one
to permits, but didn't know their new jobs until Wednesday evening.
Overseeing communications and dispatch was,
to put it mildly, not one of the police department's most desired jobs. Although some sergeants, like Bigelow, preferred working
there, most would rather to be out on the streets.
The dispatch center is responsible for prioritizing calls for
service, assigning officers to incidents and informing them of the nature and place they're headed. Dispatchers assess the
severity of each situation, monitor the radio to keep track of officers' locations and actions, and call for backup if needed.
planned switch to a clearer, encrypted digital signal heard only by emergency personnel has been postponed because some of
the department's cars are too old to support it, Paris said.
Although not typical, tensions have been known to
arise between police and dispatchers, and some have questioned whether patrol officers will more frequently question or challenge
the directions of dispatcher when a sergeant isn't there to give a final word.
The new civilian supervisors won't
have the authority to order sworn officers, Paris said.
"Obviously, the officers will do what is necessary
... but there will be times, I would think, where they'll be a concern that the civilian dispatcher will be giving officers
information that is not proper," he said. "Things happen so quickly. When a sergeant's there, I think even the dispatchers
are more comfortable"
Price countered that all of the new supervisors are well-trained and at least five of
them are retired police officers -- three of them from Bridgeport.
She, Police Chief Joseph Gaudett and some members of the police department don't share the union's concerns.
"On the contrary, we believe
that we are enhancing officer safety, as well as public safety, by combining our separate dispatch centers into one,"
Gaudett said in a Friday e-mail. "This results in more police sergeants in the field, where they belong, supervising
Price said across the country and state, many other municipalities -- including Fairfield,
Norwalk and Hartford and West Haven, among others -- have opted for similar systems to help stretch tight budgets in the long
term and allow "better" training
White cops get say in decades-old discrimination case
P. Mayko, STAFF WRITER
Published: 06:50 p.m., Tuesday, April 27, 2010
A federal appeals court Tuesday allowed a group of white Bridgeport police officers to be heard on a proposed order to
settle a 32-year-old racial discrimination case brought by black officers against the department.
It also gives
the officers the ability to challenge any court action in the order that impacts their future by allowing Bridgeport to adjust
promotion exams that are believed to be discriminate against blacks.
But the Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New York City -- consisting of Circuit Judges Jose A. Cabranes, a former chief District judge in Connecticut and Barrington D. Parker, who sits on several Yale University boards and U.S. District Judge Carol Amon of Brooklyn, N.Y.-- didn't stop there.
The panel questioned why the 32-year-old Guardians case, which resulted
in the federal court overseeing operations of the Bridgeport Police Department's dealings with black officers, is still active.
Parker, in a strongly worded final paragraph, writes: "this
case was filed in 1978...the world has turned over many times since then. Except in highly unusual circumstances, it is the
business of cities, not federal courts or special masters, to run police departments. At some point in time, this litigation
has to be ended."
The panel then expressed confidence that U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton, who is presiding over the case, "will look hard for that point."
"This is a poster case for so-called
reform litigation run amok," said Karen Lee Torre, a New Haven lawyer who obtained intervention for Bridgeport Police Officers Todd Hoben, Jorge Cintron, David Garcia, Mark Belinkie, Mark Graham, Martin Henue, William Reilly and James Borrico, and for Kurt Hoben, who is applying for a police officer position.
"This ruling is another positive step toward ending a racket
that has gone on for decades and siphoned off millions of taxpayer dollars, all squandered on lawyers and 20 years of payments
to the judge's appointed special master, an arrangement the legality of which I look forward to challenging."
This ruling comes on the heels of last summer's U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a federal judge's decision allowing
New Haven to re-test fire department lieutenant and captain candidates because no blacks scored high enough to be promoted.
There are some similarities. Arterton is the presiding judge in the Guardians' case and the New Haven firefighters
case while Torre represented the successful white candidates in both.
The Supreme Court decision also led to Bridgeport
settling a reverse discrimination suit brought by 12 white firefighters, who challenged the rescoring of a 2007 fire lieutenant's
exam, which knocked several out of possible promotions.
The Bridgeport Guardians, a group of black police officers,
sued the city and its police department in 1978 claiming racial discrimination of black officers. Following a trial, Chief
U.S. District Judge T. F. Gilroy Daly, now deceased, found widespread discrimination in terms of the assignment, promotion
and discipline of black officers. He appointed William Clendenen, a New Haven lawyer, as a special master to oversee the treatment of black officers within the department.
the decades, Clendenen conducted numerous hearings and wrote several rulings critical of the department and its management.
Damages, as well as Clendenen's fees, were paid by Bridgeport. A $900,000 fine was imposed against city for violating court
orders, but never paid.
"Throughout this period, the only constant has been that the police department...has
been run under the supervision of a federal court and its special master," Parker wrote.
But times have changed.
The ruling points out that 15 percent of the supervisors today are black and 32 percent are minorities as compared to 1983
when all supervisors were white. Additionally, two blacks served as police chief in the past decade.
"The substance of the Second Circuit's ruling is an encouraging sign of an end to this protracted litigation,"
said Betsy Edwards, an associate city attorney. "The presence of the intervening officers in the remaining stages of this case will assist
the Department in moving forward with a shared sense of unity. The City shares the Second Circuit's belief that `the business
of running Police Departments is not properly left to federal courts and special masters,' and is confident that the progress
that the Department has made over the past year will continue and will justify the long overdue conclusion of this federal oversight."
Ponvert, the Guardians' lawyer could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Following a four-hour hearing on Aug.
6, 2008, Arterton accepted a proposed order to end the case, which includes returning authority to the chief in assigning
officers to geographical areas, filling 50 percent of the vacancies in specialized units and hearing complaints of racial discrimination.
Arterton retained oversight of the order's implementation.
Bridgeport cops host open houses for applicants
Mayko, STAFF WRITER
Published: 10:51 p.m., Thursday, April 22, 2010
-- People interested in applying for 20 available entry-level police officer positions can get a closer view of what the job
entails at one of three open houses planned at the Police Training Academy, 405 Newfield Ave.
Sgt. Brian Dickerson said the open houses will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, 1 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Several police supervisors,
including Assistant Chief Lynn Kerwin, Capt. Robert Shapiro and Lt. Lonnie Blackwell, will address attendees.
"We are anticipating that because of the difficult economy, people, who otherwise
might not be consider a career in law enforcement, are now interested," Dickerson said. "We scheduled the open houses
to give them an idea of what to expect. In many cases, this may be a perfect choice for them."
now has 407 active police officers, and has budgeted for 427 next year.
Applications for the job of patrol officer,
which pays $42,315, will be available at the open house. There is no age restriction on applicants.
will be required to take a physical agility test, currently scheduled May 15-16 and May 22-23 at Central High School.
A male candidate between 20 and 29 years old will be required to run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes and 25 seconds, bench
press 99 percent of his body weight and complete 38 situps in a minute. A female candidate between 20 and 29 years old must
run the 1.5 miles in 14 minutes and 49 seconds; bench press 59 percent of her body weight and complete 32 situps in a minute.
who successfully complete that physical test must then take the written examination planned for June 12.Bridgeport has
been recruiting police candidates at job fairs, colleges and through announcements placed in municipal buildings throughout
Haitian police officer braves risk to help his homeland
Noelle Frampton, STAFF WRITER
Published: 11:06 p.m., Sunday, February 7, 2010BRIDGEPORT
-- He's a cop because he wants to protect and serve, not because he wants to be a tough guy.
But after eight years
in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, and 12 in the Bridgeport Police Department, Officer Jean Gaie is tough enough to face one of the most difficult experiences of his life in the service of others.On Saturday, Gaie was
scheduled to return to his homeland of Haiti to continue his personal mission of giving humanitarian relief in that earthquake-ravaged
nation, work he started last month on a paid leave of absence from the Police Department.
A Haitian native who moved
to the U.S. in 1983 when he was 22, Gaie returned on Jan. 31 after spending 13 days in Haiti, where he found his father and
other relatives alive, as well as handing out medicine and water to people suffering from extreme pain, dehydration and lung
problems exacerbated by heat and dust.
He addressed the City Council last Monday night.
"There is no word
to describe what I've seen down there," he told the council, members of which have donated a total of $3,575 from their
tax-funded stipends to Save the Children's work in Haiti. The council is also considering a resolution to "adopt"
a Haitian city.
"What you guys have seen on TV is nothing," he said. "Without a quick response from
the U.S., we probably would have had two million people dead."
As it is, some 212,000 Haitians have been reported
dead following a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked the island Jan. 12, and that number may grow as more bodies are recovered
from the debris.
Later, Gaie said those 13 days he spent in Haiti were the worst of his life. He, like everyone else
there, slept outside with the mosquitoes because few surviving structures are safe -- he said people avoid even sidewalks
for fear of toppling walls. And yet, he's going back for what he expects will likely be another two-week visit with support
from city and police leaders.
"My work is not done," he told the Connecticut Post. "I feel like I belong there now -- my heart is there. I cannot watch these people dying like dogs down there and not
help. I put my heart in it and God will cover me."
Gaie will act as a detective of sorts: the eyes and ears of
the Haiti Relief Resources Office that has been set up in City Hall Annex. He'll seek out areas devastated by the quake where help hasn't yet reached.
important, very important to give us an eye -- a view of what's going on," said Pierre d'Haiti, director of the office,
which connects relief agencies and resources with needs in both Haiti and the local Haitian population. "We really thank
Officer Jean Gaie for being able to step up. There are still places that are under rubble. The more we wait to help, the worse
Gaie will help to direct relief efforts and connect them with people on the ground there, and if
the agencies can't do what he says is necessary, the office -- which has worked to unify Haitian organizations and churches
in the area -- will raise money to do it, d'Haiti said.
"It's risky down there, it's not a joke," he said.
"The jail is empty -- all of the criminals are on the street ... raping women and children. You don't know who is who,
so therefore you have to be on your best guard. Whenever I face a dangerous situation, I keep repeating what I learned from
training: `I will survive.' Am I scared? No, because I'm a cop. The job can turn ugly. You might go to a call and not come
back. All you can do is hope for the best, expect the worst."
Gaie spent most of his time in his family's hometown,
Leogane, handing out over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol and Motrin to help people manage pain, headaches and related,
widespread depression, as well as 200 masks donated by nurse friends in the U.S.
While there, he awoke as his outdoor
cot skidded across the ground and people screamed to Jesus for help. It was a 6.1-magnitude aftershock. "I felt like
I was going inside the ground," he said. "It was scary."
The father of five said he watched a woman give
birth by C-section with no anesthesia and saw too many bleeding children with leg amputations.
"Doctors and nurses
down there, God bless them, I don't know how they manage," Gaie said. "You cannot spend more than two weeks down
there; you'll be burned out. You see too much in one day. Nothing is beautiful. The only picture down there is ugliness. Children
suffering -- I hate it. Sometimes you feel like crying. You feel angry, you feel upset ... I will do as much as I can."
all, he said, he carries with him the pledge to "protect and serve" his community, placing himself at risk in both
Bridgeport and Haiti.
"Being a cop is not about arresting people," he said. "They look up to you as a
leader. They hold you to a higher standard. They expect solutions from you."
Elite Bridgeport police unit trains to be top-notch
Noelle Frampton, STAFF WRITER
Published: 06:13 p.m., Friday, February 5, 2010BRIDGEPORT
-- The prospect of relaxing at home can be attractive, but the members of an elite unit of city police officers know they
have to hit the gym -- a lot.
Or, in the case of one K-9 officer in his 40s, newly-promotedSgt. Joseph Morales, run seven miles every other day.
Physical fitness is one of the ramped-up requirements for membership in the Emergency Services Unit, Bridgeport's relatively new version of a SWAT team. Any officer with a few years' experience under his or her belt can aspire
to join the unit, based on physical agility, marksmanship and an interview without regard for rank or age"You become
a cop and that's like the best thing in the world, and then you realize you can take another step," Norton said. "For
me, it's actually more humbling because you realize how much people look up to you. You're the last line ¦ when a police
officer needs help.
Gale, with about 10 years on the department, and Figueroa said the unit offers them a chance to
do something different and be recognized for their abilities. Both patrol officers said that when they made the unit, they
mix with others of that rank, as well as lieutenants and sergeants who come from various shifts in the department and are
all on the same level in the unit.
"We saw a chance to be on a top unit without it being seniority-based,"
Gale said. "(We) have the qualities they're looking for -- not just time on the job. We don't worry about who has which
stripes or bars. We're in it together; we're covering each other's backs."
Konoval said he likes the unit's camaraderie:
"You're here as a team. Not separate from the department, you're part of the department."Until about a year ago,
the city had to rely on State Police to help out in crisis times -- when there have been hostage situations, people barricaded in homes with weapons, high-risk
warrants to be served, entries to be forced, and so on.
But that just wasn't right for the state's largest city, said
members of the unit.
"We want to be able to rely on ourselves," said newly promoted Sgt. John Gale, one of the newest team members.
Capt. James Viadero, unit commander, said all of the state's larger cities have their own teams, including Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, Norwalk,
Danbury and others, all of which have smaller populations than Bridgeport. About 2Â½ years ago, Bridgeport decided
it was time it had one, too.
"It's been a strong commitment by the city," Viadero said. "A city this
size needs a unit like this. You hope you never have to use it ... but it's there. It's good to know. It is a good insurance
It took more than a year for the first members to complete their training. Eventually, department leaders
saw that 15 members wasn't enough, he said. Now, even in the midst of a budget crunch, eight new officers are being trained
to expand the unit to 23.
Viadero said the ESU is funded through the Police Department's budget, but much of its top-notch,
cutting-edge equipment -- like an armored vehicle and military-style assault rifles -- was purchased with grants and asset
The new members include Detectives James Borrico and Dennis Martinez, and Officers Richard Cretella, Al Figueroa, Abe Konoval, Edward Martocchio, Manuel Santo and Gale.
"It was a lot more intense than I thought it was going to be,"
said Figueroa, who's been on the department for 17 years and was attracted to the unit's high-risk missions. "You know
what? I really like this -- the sense of excitement, the pride."
Members of the ESU devote extra effort, undergoing
more than 2,000 hours of training in tactics, weapons, use of force, deployment of gas, hostage rescue techniques and similar
activities, Viadero said.
"It's very specialized training," he said. "You have to be at the top of your
game physically, mentally -- and proficient in the use of the weapons."
Without an extra stipend, members are also
on call 24/7 on top of their regular police duties, and must participate in monthly training.
Unit members said a home-grown
team means quicker response times, and the added advantage of its members' familiarity with the city.
the common television image of heavily armed SWAT officers bursting into buildings while spewing gunfire, Gale stressed the
importance of slow and methodical actions whenever possible in high-risk situations.
"You have to think about what
you're doing rather than just rushing it," he said. "When you rush then you skip things and that's how cops get
killed. It's a higher level of training."
In 2008, an unarmed Norwalk man was killed when the Southwest Regional
Emergency Response Team, a force of 21 officers from six towns in south-central Fairfield County -- Bridgeport is not a member
of that team -- tossed a flash grenade and burst into an Easton home. The man was fatally shot by an officer who believed
that man was rushing him in an attempt to take away his gun.
The officers involved were later cleared of wrongdoing
by then-State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict.
Viadero declined to comment on the Easton incident, which is the subject of ongoing litigation, except to say that
the concept of regional emergency response teams is not new to the area. Another group of towns between Bridgeport and New
Haven, including Milford, Derby and Orange, have organized a similar team, too, he said.
Under Viadero, Lt. John Cueto runs the ESU. Cueto also works with the department's equestrian unit.
Once Bridgeport officers make the unit, which
boasts two K-9 officers and four specialized snipers, they have to maintain a higher level of fitness and are tested every
six months to ensure they do.
And making it is hard enough.
To join, the latest group of officers tried out over
last summer, undergoing rigorous physical agility and marksmanship tests in which the standards were ramped up a notch from
what's required departmentwide.
Forty-five signed up, 22 showed and 15 passed the physical agility test, said members
of the unit. Also, in order to make the team, they needed to miss no more than two out of 60 shots with a firearm.
the past 18 months since it has been operational, the unit has been called out at least six times, and each mission has been
resolved successfully, Viadero said. It has also worked with several federal agencies, including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. Unit members helped with the federal "Operation Young Gunz" which led to nine Bridgeport arrests on firearms and
drug charges in April. Last December, they helped apprehend three armed robbery suspects.
One of the more dramatic incidents
involving the unit took place in July 2008 when an armed man held his wife and children hostage, barricading himself in his
Hudson Street home for a nearly eight-hour standoff that kept neighbors from their homes while police -- the newly operational
ESU was working with State Police at that point -- surrounded the house.
The situation was resolved peacefully. The
man released his hostages; then police sneaked into the home and nabbed him after a brief struggle.
Sgt. Erick Norton, a former Marine and team executive officer, said being part of the unit is about being the best, but it isn't about being
a big shot.
Bridgeport sergeant promotions a family affair
Noelle Frampton, STAFF WRITER
Published: 11:15 p.m., Thursday, February 4, 2010BRIDGEPORT
-- When they were kids, Louis and Susan Cortello spent a lot of time together, playing baseball and sharing other interests. In short, the siblings had a bit of a rivalry,
but also enjoyed a lot of loving support.
That hasn't changed much in adulthood.Nearly 17 years ago, the Cortello brother-and-sister
team joined the Bridgeport Police Department on the same day. They each became the parent to a son 10 months apart. Then, they took the sergeant's promotional test together.
Susan Cortello ranked sixth on the exam; her brother was seventh. When the test was re-scored after an appeal, he was sixth
and she ranked seventh.
And last month, the siblings were promoted to sergeant on the same day, too.
with their families Wednesday night after a ceremony honoring them and 18 other newly promoted sergeants in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.
"It's very exciting to do things together, to make our achievements together," said Susan Cortello.
"We're a very supportive family, so it's nice."
The other new police sergeants include: Jason Amato, Michael Burdo, Angelo Collazo, Mathew Cosgrove, Pasquale Feola, John Gale, James Geremia, Jeffrey Grice, Edward Golding, John Klesyk, Joseph Morales, Ronald Mercado, James Myers, Nancy O'Donnell, Edward Rivera, Bradford Seeley, Philip Sharp and Luigi Tucciarone.
Each has a personal story.
Mercado was No. 1 in the department on the promotional exam. Myers is known for his
work as a paranormal investigator. Feola and Morales are K-9 officers still awaiting word on whether they'll be allowed to
keep their police dogs in their new assignment.
"We expect great things from you," said acting Police Chief
Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. "Understand that with that gold shield comes the responsibility and accountability of having people under your command.
You guys are where the rubber meets the road ... where policy becomes practice. You're the caretakers of the past, the implementers
of change and the trailblazers of the future. So I wish you all the best."
The new sergeants have all been assigned
to three shifts in patrol, as well as the midnight and evening shifts in the communications and dispatch center.
13 years as a detective, Louis Cortello was assigned to the Strategic Enforcement Team.
Policing runs in his family. The family patriarch, Sam Cortello, is
a retired Bridgeport detective with 31 years under his belt in the department.
He beamed with pride on Wednesday.
very excited," he said. "After spending 31 years on the job, they outrank me. Now, I have to salute them.
went on together and now they made sergeant together: It's truly amazing. To have one is an honor; I have two for my money."
moment was sweeter for Sam Cortello by the fact that he, diagnosed with cancer two years ago, survived to stand beside his
children that proud evening, in a room packed with the friends and relatives of the 20 promotees.
"I never thought
I would see this day," he said.
"He's a fighter -- that's what we are," said his son, adding that he
and his sisters were raised in the city's North End and grew up with ideals of community involvement and public service from
their parents. "We're very competitive. We always strive for excellence."
The pair's mother, Dee Cortello,
said her children followed in their father's footsteps.
Newly promoted Sgt. Collazo, with nearly 10 years on the job,
credited the sergeants who had supervised him as a patrol officer with inspiring him to reach for his stripes and teaching
him much of what he knows now.
"My sergeants were my mentors, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps and be
like them," he said. "It's a great accomplishment. It took hard work to get here and I look forward to going out
and serving the city."
Many of those promoted, like Collazo, pored over books, laws, policies and procedures for
many hours to study for the exam. While just the top 20 on the list earned their stripes, others may be promoted later.
onnell, a lifelong city resident, was promoted after only about two years on the job, although she spent many years before
that as a civilian in the dispatch center, and assigned to her old stomping grounds in the center that manages calls for service.
quite an honor to be given this appointment for being on as a sworn officer for such a short time," she said. "I'm
going to serve to the best of my ability."
New SET sergeant is a survivor -- and a servant
Noelle Frampton, STAFF WRITER
Published: 10:17 p.m., Friday, January 29, 2010BRIDGEPORT
-- "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
In Sgt. Charles Johnson's case, the old adage is true.Johnson survived a head-on collision with a desperate, fleeing criminal slightly more than a
year ago, and the lessons he learned in the aftermath are informing how he approaches his new job as one of the supervisors
of the Police Department's Strategic Enforcement Team.
A Bridgeport native and 17-year veteran of the department, Johnson
was named to the team Jan. 18 as part of department-wide re-assignments, along with newly promoted Sgt. Louis Cortello and the new commander, Lt. Thomas Lula.
The 16 SET officers focus on quality-of-life issues in the city's neighborhoods and have cell phones they make directly
available to the public.
Johnson suffered his serious injuries on the midnight shift Nov. 11, 2008, as he was driving
-- lights and siren activated -- to the aid of a fellow officer who was pursuing a runaway driver.
Then, the suspect
turned south in the northbound lane of Main Street near the Route 8/25 overpass.
"All of a sudden, here he comes
right at me," Johnson recalled. "Airbags went off. My jaw was broken in two places. My ankle was broken. It could've
been a lot worse."
They collided with such force that the Crown Victoria cruiser's heavy-duty frame bent at its midpoint. The car was totaled.
Capt. A.J. Perez, who oversees both the Tactical Narcotics Team and SET, recalled that "shocking" night, when he got the news of
Johnson's accident. He sped to the hospital to check on the officer.
He couldn't believe that Johnson's injuries weren't
worse, judging by the severity of the crash.
"We're very lucky that, that day, he didn't die," Perez said.
"I think if it had been a bigger person, they would have died."
Because of the crash, Johnson brings to his
new position a deepened appreciation for his job and community, as well as a heightened sense of safety.
got one of the best jobs in the world, so I always want to do it to the best of my ability," he said. "Every day
is different; you have the chance to help people so much. I love it. The city gets a bad rap, but there are a lot of good
people out there and they're just trying to work hard and make it."
Johnson, who decided he wanted to be a cop
in second grade and never wavered from that plan, hopes to increase the team's community involvement and root out neighborhood
As a passionate new recruit, he routinely found himself chasing criminals on foot across the back yards and
fences of Bridgeport. He loved the thrill of the chase and, when he came back to work about three months after the crash,
"I still had the desire to be out, driving the car, chasing down criminals."
Although Feb. 5 will mark the
year anniversary of Johnson's return to work, his ankle injury makes some of those early exploits impossible.
out and about, to be sure, but can't run like he used to. Yet as a supervisor, he realizes foot pursuits aren't his role anymore:
He's there to teach others the best and safest ways to do things.
Physically chasing down criminals "is not all
there is," he said. "I've come up with the adage, `Work smarter, not harder:' If you can find a smarter, safer way
to do it, go with that."
Perez and acting Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. said Johnson is a dedicated worker who always strives to do a good job.
"He never forgot where he came from,"
Perez said. "He wants to give back to the community. He's a very good person -- a dedicated father. He's not afraid to
speak his mind and tell you what needs to be said, respectfully. He's nothing but a gentleman."
Perez also praised
Cortello and Lula, who along with Johnson replaced Lt. Stephen Shuck and Sgt. John Evans, who moved to TNT.
"We're fortunate to have these guys," he said, adding that Lula brings "a wealth
of experience and knowledge" from 26 years with the department and Cortello from years in the Detective Bureau.
taking "a hard look" at the unit's work, administrators decided to refocus it with more emphasis on listening to
the concerns and input of the community and business people, he said.
"They're our eyes and ears," Perez said.
"It's old-fashioned police work -- and it works."
SET will support patrol and traffic divisions, and "saturate"
areas with problem-trends, he said.
Johnson regrets that, before the accident, he'd driven off in a hurry and wasn't
wearing his seat belt.
For five weeks at the crash, he underwent physical therapy three times a week and for more than
six weeks, his jaw was wired shut and he sipped his dinners through a straw, including liquefied turkey and cranberry sauce
"Needless to say, that was the worst Thanksgiving I ever had," he said.
has found a lot to be thankful for in life, including his family, church, city and fellow police officers, who offered support
during his recovery.
He's excited to be back to work and optimistic about the "overall ... very positive direction"
the department is headed under Gaudett.
In the end, the man who hit him, Anthony Pooser, was convicted of first-degree assault with a motor vehicle and sentenced last July to 10 years in prison, suspended after
seven, according to state judicial records.
Among the lessons Johnson learned from the crash was, "Take nothing
"And, of course, wear your seat belt."
AFSCME Sends Sympathy to Families of Murdered Police Officers
Four police officers
were tragically killed in Lakewood, Washington Sunday morning in a horrific act of violence. Sgt. Mark Renninger, and
Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, and Greg Richards were ambushed in a coffee shop by a suspected lone gunman as they
were preparing to begin patrol.
“The loss of these brave
law enforcement officers is felt deeply by those who knew them, and by their brothers and sisters in blue across the nation,”
said James Howell, Assistant Director of AFSCME Law Enforcement and a retired police officer from the City of New Haven, Connecticut.
“Their dedication to protecting the Lakewood community is honored by all Americans and will be greatly missed by those
they served so bravely and well.”
The officers who died were members of the Lakewood Police Independent Guild.
Their brothers and sisters in AFSCME Law Enforcement, and all AFSCME members, send their sympathy to the families and fellow
officers of those who died tragically Sunday.
“On behalf of the 100,000 law enforcement personnel
and all the members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, I want to extend our deepest sympathy
to their families and fellow officers,” Jim Lyman, Chair of the AFSCME Law Enforcement Advisory Board and a retired
Albany (NY) police officer . “The loss of these brave officers touches us all.”
The suspect in
the killings, Maurice Clemmons, was shot and killed by a police officer early Tuesday while in possession of a handgun belonging
to one of the slain officers. Four people have been arrested for allegedly assisting the suspect to elude authorities
during the two day manhunt.
As uniformed officers and civilian law enforcement workers in states, counties and cities,
at educational institutions and other areas, AFSCME members proudly serve and protect every day. AFSCME Law Enforcement
members around the country work hard to keep our families and communities safe – patrolling our streets, securing our
airports and enforcing our laws.
Donations to the families of the fallen officers of the Lakewood
Police Department can be made by visiting http://www.lpig.us or sending a check to the Lakewood Police Independent Guild, P.O. Box 99579, Lakewood, Washington 98499.
Change at the top in Bridgeport police union
07:23:47 PM EST
-- New leadership has been elected to most of the top jobs in the city's police union, a year after the prior leadership negotiated
a controversial contract with the Finch administration that bypassed raises for two years in exchange for no layoffs.
Police Union Local 1159 ousted Officer Frank Cuccaro as president and also replaced the union's vice president and treasurer
in balloting earlier this month.
Of 10 leadership posts, seven are filled by new people, although some are longtime
officials who've moved to different leadership spots. "I think a lot of it had to do with the contentious contract,"
said Cuccaro, who lost the presidency to Sgt. Charles Paris, a longtime executive board member.
The final election results
were announced Nov. 9 at a general membership meeting of the union.
The new vice president is Officer Bernard Webb.
As treasurer, Officer Brad Seely beat longtime incumbent Mike Rynich in a close race and Officer Rich Mercado remains secretary.
to the Executive Board were Sgt. John Whalen, Detectives Chris Borona and Edwin Perez, and Officers Ricardo Lopez, Danny Gomez
and Brian Pisanelli.
Borona, Gomez, Lopez and Pisanelli are new, according to Paris. The former vice president did not
Cuccaro said there was a high turnout for the election, with more than 300 of 415 union members voting.
who spent 12 years on the board, said he is familiar with union business. He won by roughly 50 votes.
the membership was looking for some change all around," he said.
Paris said that, although the membership passed
the four-year contract in 2008 with a majority by 15 votes, "as time went on I think they thought we should've or would've
gotten a better deal."
The pact gave no raises through June 2010 in exchange for no layoffs, but provides an 11
percent raise by the end of the four years. In the third year of the contract, which starts next July, officers get a 6 percent
raise, followed by a 5 percent boost in the fourth and final year.
Cuccaro said it's tough to keep more than 400 people
happy, no matter what.
"They were going to lay off 20 officers," he said. "The problem is, the people
who weren't getting laid off didn't really care. It's a thankless job and I look forward to getting back on the street and
doing some police work."
Last December, when the contract was before the City Council, Cuccaro called it "a
hard sell" but "the best we can do given the national financial crisis."
Mayor Bill Finch had asked for
concessions from all city unions in the face of a projected $20 million city budget deficit, and Cuccaro said then that the
police union "played our part" in helping resolve the deficit.
The police union resisted the mayor's requests
with public protests and a no-confidence vote, but the friction subsided with the resignation of Bryan T. Norwood as chief
and the appointment of Deputy Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. as acting chief in October 2008.
Gaudett, who as chief is not
a union member, endorsed the pact, which saved the city money in the short run.
Cuccaro hopes to continue to have a
hand in union matters.
"I'll help out the new board as best I can, because whatever they do will affect all 415
of us," he said.
Paris said the new team is still assessing matters, and is involved in discussions with the city
on issues that include the city's reopening of the cost of members' insurance package.
"There's a lot of things
still to be determined," he said. "We're working on some things and so far, so good."
Bridgeport's #2 cop worked her way up from the beat
12:42:49 AM EST
BRIDGEPORT -- Lynn Kerwin may be too modest for her own good.
Kerwin joined the Police Department in 1985 there was a big recruitment drive to bring more women onto the city's police force,
and if Kerwin had allowed herself to be fast-tracked, she might have been chief already.
Instead, the 51-year-old Kerwin
decided to work her way up the ladder starting with street cop, then detective and now finally assistant chief.
I wouldn't trade my experiences in the department for anything," she said as she bade farewell recently to her office
in the Detective Bureau. "I've been involved in a lot of big cases and worked with many good people."
learn quickly that Kerwin doesn't like to dwell on the negatives. The petite blond with TV cop good looks can be quite disarming
but just under the surface is a toughness that has served her well over the years.
Not only did she have to overcome
obstacles set in her path because she is a woman in a still traditional man's world but she often found herself having to
convince people on the street she is a cop.
"I remember riding with my partner Glen Prentiss on the East Side when
we went to answer a burglary call," she related. "We jump out of our car and the victim asks Glen, 'why'd you bring
this little girl with you?'"
This week Kerwin, who has commanded the Police Department's Detective Bureau for
the past eight years, was promoted to assistant police chief making her not
only the highest ranking woman officer
in the department's history but only the second official assistant chief. When former chief Bryan Norwood resigned last year
Kerwin had been a leading candidate to replace him but the job instead went to Joseph Gaudett. But a recent federal court
mandate to eliminate discrimination in the Police Department required the establishment of an assistant chief position. Kerwin
now finds herself not only as the department's number two cop but also its top anti-discrimination cop.
assist the chief in any matters that pertain to fair and equal treatment of police officers," she said, reading from
a prepared statement.
In real speak that means she is in charge of recruitment, hiring and investigating complaints
of discrimination in the department that would have previously gone to a special federal master.
"I'm doing a lot
of research on how we do hiring and if the testing procedure has a disparaging affect on minorities and women," she explained.
"I'm taking it very seriously. There are a lot of people putting their faith into me and I know I'm going to lose a lot
of sleep over this." But this was not a token appointment. Kerwin may in fact be the most qualified person in the department
to do the job.
For five years Kerwin served as supervisor of the Police Department's Office of Internal Affairs which
investigates complaints against police officers. While in that capacity she was also appointed head of the department's Equal
Opportunities Program which included investigating complaints of harassment and sexual discrimination in the police department.
I really have a good base to work from," she said.
"At every stage of her career, Lynn has earned the respect
of her colleagues as well as those of us working in the criminal courts," said State's Attorney John Smriga. "Her
integrity and broad range of experience make her an outstanding choice for the position."
Recently retired police
lieutenant John Brenner worked with Kerwin both in OIA and later in the Detective Bureau. "I've been to numerous homicide
scenes and Lynn would be right there with me," he said. "She didn't have it easy, she worked her way up the ranks
and that really earns respect in the law enforcement community. Lynn is top notch."
Chief Gaudett said he is thrilled
Kerwin accepted the position. "She is the right person at the right time and I'm looking forward to working with her,"
Kerwin was born in the city and graduated from Harding High School in 1976. Her father, a city police officer
for more than two decades, tried to dissuade her from following in his footsteps.
"He wanted me to be the first
member of the family to go to college and get a good job but I couldn't see myself working nine to five in some windowless
office," she said.
Ironically, claims of discrimination in the Police Department caused Kerwin to rethink her objectives.
federal discrimination lawsuit against the department had halted hiring and Kerwin instead enrolled in the nursing program
at Sacred Heart University. "I had this real desire to help people and if I couldn't become a cop I would be a nurse,"
However, a few years later, the suit settled, Kerwin was notified she had been accepted into the Bridgeport
"At first I kept it a secret from my father but once he found out he couldn't have been prouder
of me," she said.
In July 1990 Kerwin was promoted to detective and a year later she was assigned to the Detective
Bureau's major crime unit.
"It was in the Detective Bureau that I really found my calling," she said. "I
loved working to put cases together and resolving crimes so that families could get some sense of closure." Then with
a laugh she added: "I also found I really liked the hunt."
In August 1993 Kerwin was promoted to sergeant
and because of contract requirements she was returned to the patrol division. But later that year she was assigned to the
Police Department's Office of Internal Affairs which investigates complaints against police officers.
Two years later
she was promoted to lieutenant and was made supervisor of internal affairs. In May 2001 Kerwin was promoted to captain and
assigned as supervisor of the Detective Bureau.
Criminals and crimes were changing and Kerwin said she realized that
old investigative techniques were no longer working. So reached out to federal agencies, the FBI federal Drug Enforcement
Agency and others to work with Bridgeport detectives on major crimes.
U.S. Marshals now routinely work with local police
detectives to hunt down and capture wanted felons.
But the biggest effect of this partnership was solving the triple
homicide on Charles Street on Aug. 24, 2005.
Three people were found bound, gagged and beaten to death in an apartment.
Kerwin said they knew the crime was drug-related but were having trouble pressuring prospective witnesses to give up the killers.
officers were able to put pressure on the witnesses we couldn't and as a result two brothers were arrested for the crime,"
she said. "These two men could have wrecked havoc in the city if they had remained free."
Kerwin said she
is sad to leave the Detective Bureau but is happy to be leaving it in very capable hands. "Captain James Viadero can
more than fill my shoes," she added.
Lynn Kerwin file 1976 graduate of Warren Harding High School
Sept. 20, 1985 -- graduated from Bridgeport Police Academy Sept. 21, 1985 -- assigned to Patrol Division as a Police Officer
July 1990 -- Promoted to Rank of Detective August 1993 -- Promoted to Sergeant November 1993 -- Assigned to Office of Internal
Affairs 1995 -- Promoted to lieutenant October 2000 -- Assigned commander of the Equal Employment and Opportunities program.
May 2001 promoted to Detective Bureau Captain Married to Mike Kerwin, Inspector, state Division of Criminal Justice One son
- John DeSarli, 27, Audi technician - Greenwich Audi
As stats show drop in crime, some ask is Bridgeport safer?
11:46:03 PM EST
-- Crime is a mixed bag here these days, federal and local statistics show.
Depending on whom you talk to and which
numbers you emphasize, Bridgeport could be one of the most dangerous cities in the state or one of the safest large cities.
violent crime fell nationwide for the second straight year in 2008, it rose slightly in Bridgeport for the fifth straight
year as the city's population fell, federal and local statistics show.
But this year, statistical projections from the
Bridgeport Police Department show a striking drop in violent and property crimes, according to William Linsley, who compiles
the department's statistics.
In his nine years on the job, Linsley said his main conclusion has been that "nothing
ever changes. And this is somewhat my despair."
But on Friday, after multiplying the current crime numbers by
roughly 1.33 to develop year-end projections, an excited Linsley reported, "This year's been remarkable. I was surprised;
the projections were really pretty darn good. I've really never seen anything like this."
If the projections hold
up through the year's end, this will be the city's lowest violent crime year in at least a decade, despite an alarming recent
rash of robberies and gang-related shootings.
Linsley predicted there will be 13 murders, 48 rapes, 564 robberies and
679 aggravated assaults by Dec. 31, a total of 1,304. In 1999, Bridgeport had 1,820 such crimes, according to the FBI's annual
Crime in the United States report.
As of Oct. 29, serious violent crime was down 8.44 percent compared with last year,
Acting Police Chief Joseph Gaudett reported.
"Part One Crime," including violence, burglaries, felony larcenies
and auto thefts, was down nearly 14 percent from what is was at the same point last year.
'Significant progress' seen
seem to be making some pretty significant progress," Mayor Bill Finch said. "The chief has done a masterful job
keeping the funds we're spending focused on eliminating crime." Even so, "we're not satisfied," the mayor said,
adding that the city is working with other authorities to stem the tide of illegal guns, which are "the largest single
contributor to our problems."
In his Sept. 21 State of the City speech, Finch noted that city police had been
working in a shoestring budget year to "rein in overtime while paying attention to the basics."
overall is down," the mayor said, "and we remain one of the safest cities in the state."
Finch said later
that he was referring in the speech to overall crime in big cities. Hartford and New Haven both reported significantly more
property crimes last year and therefore, more overall crime than Bridgeport, although smaller cities don't come close, according
to the FBI numbers.
Bridgeport was No. 1 in serious violent crimes in 2008, and is on track for either second or third
place this year, according to FBI and local statistics.
The city finished 2008 with 1,638 crimes including murders,
rapes, serious assaults and robberies, according to the FBI. That was 35 more violent crimes than the city reported in 2007
and 129 more than in 2006.
Hartford reported 1,503 violent crimes in 2008 and New Haven 1,637.
Things could be
Despite small yearly increases since 2003, violent crimes here still haven't reached their 2002 level of 1,695.
At the end of last month, there had been 13 murders in Bridgeport, more than New Haven's nine but fewer than Hartford's 30,
and four fewer than there were at the same point last year.
Last year, Hartford and New Haven surpassed Bridgeport in
And New Haven has experienced significantly more crime than Bridgeport this year, reporting 1,029 violent
crimes in the first six months, to Bridgeport's 692 and Hartford's 580.
Stamford and Waterbury, the fourth- and fifth-largest
cities in the state, both reported five homicides last year, and 390 and 384 violent crimes, respectively.
smaller towns and cities in the area experienced less violent crime in 2008.
Fairfield, with an estimated population
of 57,568, reported 39 serious violent crimes, two of which were murders. In similarly-sized Milford, there were 68 serious
violent crimes and no murders, while Stratford saw 144 and two murders. In Trumbull, a bit smaller at 34,807 residents, there
were 21 and no murders.
In the second half of this year, Bridgeport, which has been shrinking in recent years to an
estimated 136,327 residents, experienced a relatively tame July but a spike in robberies and shootings in the following three
There were five homicides, 28 armed assaults and 67 robberies in August alone, preliminary city records indicate.
And in September, there were two homicides, 21 armed assaults and 63 robberies -- well above the year's monthly average of
While assaults and killings tend to rise in warm weather, robberies typically pick up later in the year, when
colder weather warrants heavy coats and hooded sweatshirts in which weapons, real or imaginary, can be hidden, police said.
spike, which some officers attributed to a tough economy, has been causing some concern among police and overwhelmed detectives.
It is a sore subject among many city patrol officers, who bemoan what they see as "reactive" rather
than "proactive" crime-fighting that leaves them barely keeping their heads above water as the calls roll in, arguing
that extra patrols would help deter such crimes.
Of course, these officers may benefit from added patrols because they're
opportunities for overtime, which Gaudett has been trying to minimize.
He's said the 415-member department is on track
to stay within its $5.8 million overtime budget this year, after years of overrunning it.
"It is a balance,"
Gaudett said. "We've been given a budget, and we need to live within that budget. It's been a tough year with the economy
the way it is, with the budget the way it is, but I think the officers have been doing a great job. We're just trying to use
the people we have in the most cost-effective way possible." Bridgeport's overall staffing ratio of law enforcement to
population is close to the national average of three per 1,000 population, according to the FBI. New England's average is
Finch said "unwarranted" inside overtime spending between $5 million and $7 million per year
exceeded what the city could afford when he took office two years ago.
Although the recent spike in robberies is worrisome,
robberies were down nearly 10 percent from last year as of late October, he reported.
In the meantime, shootings involving
youths 16 to 24 remain cause for concern: "Probably the biggest issue we're facing at the moment," Gaudett said
last week, attributing much of the violence to small, neighborhood gangs of youths with guns.
Gaudett said department
leaders review its statistics each day and, when trends appear, allocate resources to deal with them, doing whatever possible
within budgetary limits.
Crime-fighting in any city involves a balance between the number
of detectives, who address crimes after the fact, and the number of uniformed officers on the streets.
Detective Bureau is operating at its authorized strength of 49, with nine provisional detectives in place while the detective
promotional list remains tied up in a state Supreme Court battle, according to Gaudett and Detective Keith Bryant, department
Two are specifically assigned to robberies. Others are general investigators or assigned to burglaries, financial
fraud and other types of crime, Bryant said. They work during the day and evening, but not the midnight shift.
spread thin," Bryant said in September. detectives "are overwhelmed but they still continue to manage. They prioritize
Bridgeport's "clearance" rate of violent crimes -- meaning arrests, suspect deaths or other
means of closure -- is significantly lower than a national average of cities its size.
While the FBI's national average
clearance rate of violent crimes for cities between 100,000 and 249,999 inhabitants was 42.5 percent in 2008, Bridgeport's
clearance rate has hovered between 31 and 35 percent each year for the past three years, with the past year's rate the lowest.
2008 clearance rate for homicides is 47.62 percent. Nationally among similarly-sized cities, that rate is 64.6 percent. Of
robberies, the city clears 15.5 percent while the nationwide average is more than 26 percent. Property crime clearance was
7.56 percent here and 16.8 percent nationally.
into the future
The mayor and chief plan to emphasize traffic enforcement,
with the goal of increasing basic civility in town and beefing up the department's domestic violence unit in the future, Finch
said, adding that they also hope to improve morale and public relations in the department.
Both praised the work of
the Strategic Enforcement Team, which focuses on basic quality-of-life issues, recently cracking down on underage drinking,
and offers members' cell phone numbers to residents to call 24/7.
Finch said he wants a safer city, but the police can't
clean it up alone.
"If people want their streets safer, it's very easy for them to help," he said. "We
need to have the eyes and ears of the community to participate."
What does the next year hold for Bridgeport?
knows?" Linsley said. "I'm knocking on wood. One thing these stats won't do is tell you why. But there are reasons."
Mayor sets 2010 for police chief search
Article taken from POLICEPAY.NET, Originally published in the New Haven Independent
by Melissa Bailey
New Haven Independent
It took lunch at Lorenzo’s
— and a personal intervention from Mayor John DeStefano — to finally settle a police union contract.
The police union reached a tentative agreement with the city on a three-year contract that includes pension and wage givebacks,
city and union officials announced Thursday. The last contract expired on July 1, 2008.
The tentative agreement
needs majority approval by the police union’s 465 members at a vote on Wednesday, said AFSCME Local 530 President Sgt.
Louis Cavaliere. He said the union made concessions under the threat of binding arbitration, which in a recession may have
had a negative outcome.
“This may not be the greatest contract in the world,” he said, “but it’s
enough to vote ‘yes’ and not go through the dangers of arbitration.”
If approved, the pact will
bring some peace and some changes the city was seeking. It has also created a division between younger and older members of
the police force.
Older members would benefit under the deal because it boosts the retirement age from 65 to 67.
Younger members would lose a program that would let them retire after 15 years.
Overall, the city is pleased with
a shift toward defined-contribution pensions and a cheaper health care plan that would drive down long-term costs, said DeStefano.
The pact comes after many months of talks that at some points appeared to be deadlocked.
A turning point
came a couple months ago at Lorenzo’s Ristorante Italiano in West Haven, the town where Cavaliere lives. At the time,
negotiations had stretched out for a year past the contract’s expiration. DeStefano decided to take action: He arranged
the lunch at the Italian eatery and, for the first time, he personally sat down at the negotiating table.
said he doesn’t make a practice of taking part in negotiations. “But when it’s necessary,” he said,
He joined Cavaliere, city labor relations director Craig Manemeit, Assistant Police Chief Stephanie
Redding and members of the police union executive board. At the meeting, the group settled on “some of the primary issues”
of the contract, DeStefano said. He declined to give specifics.
DeStefano downplayed the event. Manemeit did 95
percent of the contract negotiating overall, he said.
The two sides have agreed on nearly all the issues
they sought to discuss. One, the use of extra-duty “hold-downs,” where
a single cop can claim a steady
extra-duty shift at a bar or business, remains unresolved. That issue alone will be settled by binding arbitration, DeStefano
The mayor said he’s pleased about two big moves that will drive down costs in the long run. According
to the new pact, cops hired after Oct. 1, 2009, must join a hybrid pension plan. They would get a defined-benefit pension
based on their salary, excluding any overtime or extra-duty work. Pension contributions for overtime and extra-duty work would
go into a defined contribution plan, a 401(k).
This reflects the city’s desire to gradually shift workers
to defined contribution plans, which are used the private sector. Under a defined benefit plan, when the pension fund plummets
due to the stock market, the city is left on the hook for pension payouts, even though the money is no longer there.
New hires will also have to join a new health care plan that’s cheaper for the city.
The changes in health
care and pension plans set the standard for other contract negotiations, the mayor said. He expects to seek similar reforms
in a new round of AFSCME contract negotiations that begin this fall.
Other highlights of the police pact:
• Wages: no wage increase in the first year (FY09), a 3 percent pay hike in the current year retroactive to July; and
another 3 percent hike in FY11. Extra-duty pay boosted from time and a quarter to time and a half.
boy” clause. Cops convicted on corruption charges may have their pension benefits stripped. The city couldn’t
do that before.
• The police and fire communications center, where 911 calls are received, will be
staffed by civilian instead of sworn personnel.
• A 50 percent cut to cops’ longevity payments —
bonuses for length of service.
• Cuts to cops’ clothing allowance. New uniforms every other year, not
• Traffic unit. Motorcycle squad can work the 3-11 p.m. shift, enabling the city to double its
traffic enforcement squad
Old vs. Young
Some proposed changes are pitting younger cops against the veteran officers on the union
Older cops would gain from a bump in the retirement age from 65 to 67; that benefits one executive
union member, Frank Lombardi, who’s 64 and doesn’t want to retire, Cavaliere said.
Some younger members
are miffed about giving up a program that lets them retire with a pension after only 15 years. As of now, cops who have 15
years on the job can cash in 150 unused sick days for five extra years in pension calculations. That lets them retire with
a 20-year pension and health care benefits after only 15 years on the force. Under the proposed contract, cops would have
to work for 20 years before cashing in sick days for pension benefits.
Paul Bass downplayed the issue.
“There’s probably 100 people who say they’re mad because they want to leave in 15 years,” he said.
But history shows only three cops take that buyout program every year. “They’re giving up nothing,” he said.
Cavaliere, who has over 40 years on the force, said he wasn’t willing to risk the contract so that people can
ship off to a second career after only 15 years.
“I’m not going to go to arb[itration] because a few
people a year want to leave at 15,” he said.
“The young people, I try to explain to them, you may get something
from an arbitrator that may be to your detriment,” Cavaliere explained. New Haven is ranked third-to-last in the state
in terms of ability to pay, which is a major factor in binding arbitration, he said. That means odds are not in the union’s
favor if the contract goes that route.
Cavaliere was asked to respond to a complaint that the decisions favor the
more veteran officers, and that younger cops didn’t have a say.
He said contract negotiations are decided
by the union’s seven-person executive board, veteran members who are elected by the rank and file. “If they want
to be on the board, they can run,” he said.
Cavaliere said in his four decades on the force, this is the
first time he’s had to go to the negotiating table in a recession. He said the biggest coup was maintaining the pension
plan for the current officers on the force.
“It’s not one of the contracts we bring back and start
high-fiving, so to speak,” he said. But “I protected people who are here now the best I could.”
Bridgeport cops join ranks of police tested for drug use
Union contract allows for practice to begin
08:35:38 PM EDT
the first time, the Bridgeport Police Department has started random drug testing of officers.
The testing began last
month, and it's a policy that acting Chief Joseph Gaudett said he has advocated for a long time. Now that he is in charge,
the drug tests have finally become department policy.
"That was one of the things that we thought was really important,"
Gaudett said. "We're trying to show that we're drug free and we're all complying. We're walking the walk." Every
month, 10 percent of the city police force -- 42 officers -- will be randomly picked from a department-wide pool for urine
testing by Gregory & Howe, a Shelton-based drug screening company, he said.
Gaudett hopes the monthly testing,
which will continue indefinitely, will erase any possible perception of drug abuse by city police officers.
At $65 per
test, paid out of the department's budget, the screening could actually save money in the long run in health-care costs for
officers with drug-related health complications by acting as a deterrent, he said.
"Our population isn't really
so much different than the general population," he said of the police force. "Infrequently, we've had people in
programs; we've had people resign [due to drug abuse]. I have no idea what the numbers are going to look like, but I don't
suspect they're going to be zeros. I don't think anybody should be surprised. On the other hand, I don't think it should be
Gaudett said the testing was implemented after a 30-day advance notice to the police union,
Local 1159. Any officer with a first-time positive test result will be subject to internal discipline, referred to the Employee
Assistance Program and required to undergo treatment and more testing. The officer will not be fired, according to an agreement
with the union. But those who test positive a second time will be fired automatically.
When the testing
went department-wide on July 6, "Guess who was the first one tested?" the interim chief asked with a chuckle. "Strictly
random. I was laughing."
Union President Frank Cuccaro said the local's contract with Bridgeport has allowed drug
testing for roughly a decade.
Cuccaro declined to give his opinion on the drug testing.
"All I'm going to
say is that it's the city's right to do that," he said. "It's something that the city could've done for many years
and for some reason they never did. They just never exercised that right until now."
Sgt. William Ron Bailey, commander
of the department's narcotics and vice unit, called the screening "a good thing as far as I'm concerned." The testing
will help "to make sure that the community knows that we're an open book," he said. "There's a lot of people
who think that we use drugs. I say that I've never done that in my life, never. They're welcome to test me anytime they want."
said his only concern with the testing program is the possibility of mistakes leading to false results.
a retired Milford police sergeant and executive director of the Connecticut Council of Police AFSCME Council 15, said there
are no state regulations on drug testing of police officers so each department sets its own policy.
typical that a department would have a type of drug policy implemented," said Matchett, who's union represents more than
60 departments in the state. "I've never seen a local union put up any resistance to such a policy. I mean, officers
don't want to be working next to someone who's abusing substances. It's only beneficial to the officers and the department."
area police departments, some of the drug-testing policies are like Fairfield's, which require that an officer be suspected
of substance abuse before tests are administered.
In Shelton, random drug testing -- "like the lottery" --
has been in place for years, said Detective Ben Trabka, the police spokesman.
Trabka said he knows of no one who objects
to the policy. "When you're on the police job you realize you're under the microscope sometimes," he said.
Fairfield, the goal behind the contractual testing policy is to help officers with drug problems overcome them and get back
to work while protecting others, according to Chief David Peck.
According to the Fairfield union contract, the drug
policy, which dates to 1990, both town and union recognized "that the illegal use and abuse of drugs has become a serious
problem in our society and in all professional fields, and "¦ can adversely affect the performance of police officers
and threaten their image and public confidence and safety."
Bridgeport gets stimulus money to hire 20 cops
10:03:09 PM EDT
-- The city has received more than $4.8 million in federal stimulus money to hire or retain 20 more police officers.
now has about 475 officers, including detectives, on its police force.
Hartford and New Haven also will have more officers
under the so-called COPS, or Community-Oriented Policing Services, program. Hartford will get 23 new officers and New Haven
will get 22. In all, $13.72 million was allocated to the state, with Bridgeport getting $4.8 million; Hartford, $4.26 million,
and New Haven, $4.66 million.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, and Mayor Bill Finch, in a joint statement, said the money is
beign provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Officials said the grants will provide 100 percent
of the salary and benefits for entry-level officer positions over three years. The three Police Departments receiving the
grants will then be required to retain the grant-funded positions for a fourth year.
"The program gives local governments
a much-needed boost in their efforts to keep our communities safe and encourage development to turn our economy around and
create jobs," Himes said in a statement.
"This funding will help us recruit, train and hire 20 new officers,
which will enable us to expand our city's community policing efforts," said Finch.
Cop back on duty after 'miracle' recovery
BRIDGEPORT -- Last year was like a nightmare
for city Police Officer Jorge Larregui Jr.
Now, his life has become more like a miracle.
On Jan. 19, 2008, two
weeks after Larregui had surgery for a broken right leg and nearly three weeks after his 15-year-old nephew was killed in
a car accident, Larregui was cleaning his backup weapon, a Glock 9mm, at home. Mistakenly thinking the chamber was empty,
he accidentally shot himself in the left thigh while trying to empty the gun. The bullet severed his femoral artery.
his wife and oldest son were home and called for help.
"I bled out," he said, explaining that his blood was
thinned by prescription painkillers because of the recent leg surgery. "I was gushing out of both sides. I thought I
was dreaming. I'm literally yelling to myself, 'George, wake up!' Then all of a sudden, I see the paramedics on top of me."
now 39, was flown to Hartford Hospital, stopped breathing and was resuscitated three times, underwent numerous blood transfusions
and more than 25 surgeries to save his leg and his life. He was in such bad shape that a priest gave him his last rites.
Bridgeport police officers visited his bedside and prepared to say goodbye. Later, when it was clear he wouldn't die, it still
seemed unlikely he'd ever return to active duty.
But Larregui, a nine-year member of the department whose father is
a retired police officer in Puerto Rico and whose mother
was a corrections officer, had always dreamed of being a cop
and wasn't about to give up so easily: "I am not retiring," he said to himself. "I am going to be a police
officer again. I am going to walk the beat again."
His brown eyes opened wide for emphasis, Larregui
said he held onto that goal even in the most critical moments of his struggle to live. And, although he had to learn to walk
all over again and used a colostomy bag for months, he achieved his goal to return to work last month.
walking miracle," said fellow Officer Angela Grasti. "God has a purpose for him."
A lieutenant visited
Larregui with retirement paperwork while he was in recovery, but soon realized it was moot.
"When you're on this
job, you learn to fight and not give up," the healed officer said. "You learn survival skills, basically. I fought
hard to be where I'm at right now."
Larregui can now walk and run again, but retains nasty scars that underscore
his ordeal. Returning to light duty in the department's property room exactly 11 months after his accident, he went on full
duty in January but remained at that post until June, when he hit the streets again. He proudly works the evening shift, assigned
to areas in and near the Hollow neighborhood.
"It's like, 'Why me?' " he said of the ordeal.
tells me I'm here for a reason ... God's gift. I always believed in God. I think I wouldn't be here if I didn't. This is where
I'm supposed to be -- definitely."
Larregui expressed gratitude to his fellow officers for their solid support
during his treatment, including two benefits they organized to raise money for his family.
Last December, Larregui received
the 2008 Officer of the Year award for his "courageous battle" from the department's Hispanic Society.
wears a gold necklace bearing the words, "St. Michael Protect Us," and believes St. Michael, the patron saint of
police officers, has been watching out for him. He also wears a tiny angel pin on his shoulder.
"A lot of officers
didn't think that he was going to come back," said Sgt. Eddie Correa.
"I'm just surprised at his dramatic
turnaround. It's a beautiful thing."
Bridgeport promotes six cops
BRIDGEPORT -- Acting Police Chief Joseph
Gaudett Jr. told the six police officers sworn in to higher ranks on Wednesday that they should consider themselves "mini-chiefs"
in their areas of influence.
"We should move away from the idea that only the people at the top should do the
thinking," he said, during the ceremony in City Council chambers in City Hall. "It is time to accept personal responsibility
for the condition of our officers, the crime in our neighborhoods and our relationships with the community. These are extraordinary
times and they require extraordinary leadership. There is still much more to do."
Gaudett challenged city policemen
and women to employ creative problem solving and to be motivated by what is best for the police department, rather than what
is best for themselves.
The six promotees included two promoted to captain from lieutenant and four promoted to lieutenant
from sergeant to fill positions left vacant by retirements.
They are among the department's eight captains and 21 lieutenants,
leaving five unfilled positions still at captain, 14 vacancies at sergeant and 12 at detective, said Sgt. John Cueto. All
of those promoted took the promotional test in 2007, he said, adding that the captains promotional list expires in November,
while the lieutenant's list expires in March. There are 420 total department members.
Newly sworn Capt. James Viadero,
a 24-year veteran of the force, was the most senior officer to be moted. Generally beloved in the department, he was greeted
with cheers and enthusiastic applause when he received his pin.
"I'm just very proud to have gone this far and
I'm just very proud to work with the people I work with on a day-to-day basis," he said after the ceremony. "I consider
them some of the best police officers in the state."
Viadero served in the patrol division until 1990, when he
was assigned as a supervisor to the Selective Enforcement Team. As sergeant and lieutenant, he has served in patrol, Training
Division and the Detective Bureau. The department's former spokesman, he is a member of its Underwater Search and Rescue Unit.
promoted to captain was Robert Sapiro, an 18-year veteran, who has spent most of his career in patrol, most recently as a
lieutenant on the day shift, but also worked as a lieutenant in the Office of Internal Affairs and spent three years as a
Christine Burns, Albert Karpus, Steve Lougal and William Mayer were promoted to lieutenant.
spent 12 years on the force, the bulk of that in patrol -- most recently as a supervisor on the midnight shift -- with some
time working in communications. Karpus, with 18 years under his belt, has worked in patrol and as a detective, plus more than
three years in internal affairs.
Lougal has spent his 12 years in the department in patrol. A member of the Underwater
Search and Rescue Unit, he was recently certified to use the department's newly acquired ATVs. Mayer, with 22 years on the
force, also worked in patrol, plus the Detective Bureau's Identification Unit and internal affairs.
Mayor Bill Finch,
who administered each promotee's oath, congratulated them for rising to the top "with the cards you were dealt,"
and thanked them for enduring sometimes disturbing and painful experiences to maintain law and order.
No settling for Betsy Edwards
11:52:58 PM EDT
Click photo to enlarge
Associate City Attorney Betsy Edwards poses in front
of the United States Federal Court House in...
BRIDGEPORT -- Betsy Edwards loves a good trial.
from law school in 2004 when she was 25, she worked for firms that dealt with medical and insurance lawsuits for four years,
but decided she wanted a change. Now, she defends city police under her responsibilities for the Office of the City Attorney.
first day was last Sept. 2, and she can still remember it. "I walked in and they told me, 'You've got jury selection
on a police civil rights case tomorrow,'" she said. "I walked into a caseload of fifteen active cases."
then, the 29-year-old lawyer has won two trials, one for the Board of Education and one for the Police Department. She's
also dealing with lawsuits from the families of people who died in fires in the city and one suit filed for a drowning in
Later this year, she will have the "special opportunity" make an oral argument in the Second
Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court in New York City, for a First Amendment-rights case involving an animal
rights activist arrested in 2006 outside of the Arena at Harbor Yard. The circuit court is one step below the U.S. Supreme
"Most lawyers never get a chance to be that close. I feel lucky," she said.
Edwards is used
to working more than 40 hours a week, which trials require. She beat out nearly 20 applicants for the job because of her trial
experience for the $99,901 a year job.
Bridgeport has "such a
wide variety of cases and challenges
which you just don't see much in private practice," Edwards said. "It was definitely something I put a lot of
thought into. This is an opportunity for me to do something where I can make a difference. I thought I could do something
good," she added.
According to acting Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr., she has done well. "I
find her bright, outgoing, competent, professional. I seek her guidance on a regular basis," he said.
against police are especially compelling, Edwards said, "because there's a heightened sensitivity to the fact that
these are allegations against a person's character."
So Edwards put her all into learning about her new clients.
In keeping with her background in acting, she did first-hand research and rode with police on a few shifts. Trials allow her
to use another acting talent: improvisation. "I like that they force you to react quickly and think on your feet,"
In particular, trials against police present a challenge. "Your job is to communicate with people who
don't know the facts, to make the average person understand what the police face every day," she said.
was hired because there was a lot of police work to be done," she added. "The city attorneys wanted someone to try
Deputy City Attorney Arthur Laske III, praised Edwards' trial experience. He conducted the interviews.
has the drive and commitment and interest to be a trial lawyer," he said. "In our view, if you can try cases you
can do anything."
"We try cases especially when it comes to police work," he added.
case Edwards is relishing is the appeal by the circus protestor. It was a constitutional law class that sparked her interest
in the first place, late in her college career.
She said her professor in the class discouraged the class from becoming
lawyers and told them they wouldn't get constitutional law cases. Now, because of the upcoming appellate court argument,
she wants to tell him, "I am actually doing what you said we weren't going to do."
Outside of work, Edwards
loves cooking, reading and the Boston Red Sox. She has tickets for 12 games this season, 10 as a gift from her husband, Paul
Edwards, an attorney in New Haven. They married last July.
So far, she is happy with her life and her job.
a great opportunity. I didn't think I would ever get the chance to do this kind of work. I feel really lucky that I landed
here," she said.
City mourns longtime official David Hall
11:42:12 PM EDT
-- David Hall Sr., one of the state's most decorated military veterans and a member of the Board of Police Commissioners
for a decade, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.
Hall, who grew up in the Marina Village public housing
complex in the city's South End, was diagnosed in 2006 with stomach cancer, which later spread to his lungs, said Teresa
Hall, his daughter. About 200 people attended a celebration last November honoring Hall for his years of military and community
Hall underwent treatment and his illness went into remission, during which he attended police board meetings.
He was appointed board president last year, but his condition declined after that. He died Saturday at Bridgeport Hospital.
fought all the way to the end," his daughter said.
Hall's life of service started with enlisting in the U.S.
Army as early as he could, where he spent 22 years, 17 of them as a Green Beret. He served two tours in Vietnam and was awarded
more than a dozen honors, such as the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Vietnamese Honor Medal and five
air medals, according to friends and city and state officials.
Hall also worked for Dow Corning Corp. as global corporate
director of occupational health and safety, while volunteering on community councils and community center boards, and on the
Democratic Town Committee.
"We're glad for the legacy he left through community service," Teresa Hall
said. "He was a giver and he always gave back," especially to his home
"His spirit is still here, as far as I'm concerned," she added.
Hall advised many
city officials, including Joseph Gaudett Jr., who was named acting police chief last year, and Theresa Brown, the police board's
"Professionally, I knew him to be a tremendous advocate for the police commission and the community
at large," Brown said. "And personally, he was an invaluable mentor and friend to me. I will miss him, his charisma,
his enthusiasm, his dedication and his wise counsel very much."
Mayor Bill Finch, who called Hall "a commanding
figure" of "tremendous discipline," visited Hall last week.
"He had the strength to lift his head
and say, 'No sweat, mayor,' " Finch said. "He was a very brave and gallant soldier to the end."
also helped Finch deal with the Police Department when he had to cut overtime in half in the face of a multimillion-dollar
city budget deficit.
Officer Frank Cuccaro, president of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159, said Hall was a "very
Hall is also survived by his wife of 46 years, BeBe Hall, and his three other children, David Hall
Jr., Roland Hall and Renee Hall.
Viewing hours will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the United Congregational Church,
877 Park Ave., with a service to follow. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
In lieu of flowers,
donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, the family said
Union chief: Allegations against cop 'outrageous"
06:50:34 PM EDT
president of the police union said allegations in a federal lawsuit accusing a K-9 officer of allowing his dog to bite a surrendered
prisoner as being "outrageous...frivolous and untrue."
Frank Cuccaro, the union president, described Mark
Martocchio as being "put in a difficult and dangerous position by Bryan Cascio, a persistent and convicted felon,"
and handling it with "the utmost professionalism."
Cascio and his lawyer, Charles Kurmay Jr. of Stratford
filed the lawsuit alleging excessive force Thursday in the federal courthouse here.
They said that Cascio led police
on a Feb. 24, 2008 motor vehicle chase that ended in the McDonald's parking lot off exit 22 on the southbound side of
However, in the suit, they said that Cascio decided against running from the vehicle when he heard Martocchio
warn him that the dog, named Lugo, would be released.
Cascio, in the suit, said he surrendered and was sitting on the
ground when the dog attacked him tearing flesh, a vein and nerves under his left arm.
"When the facts of this matter
are explored in any depth," Cuccaro said, "the blatant falsity of the plaintiff's claims will be evident."
City Attorney Arthur Laske III also expressed confidence that the case would either be dismissed by the judge or won during
a jury trial.
Kurmay agreed that whether excessive force was used and whether the officer has an unblemished record
are issues a jury will
leaders who vehemently protest the bringing of all such claims should realize that this is the third such lawsuit that has
been brought against this particular officer for the claimed use of excessive force," Kurmay said.
he has a pending suit in federal court against Martocchio on behalf of Abdus Shahid Muhammed following a 2004 motor vehicle
The lawyer said officers blinded Muhammed's left eye and broke facial bones. Police maintain Muhammed jumped
from a moving car and struck his face against a curb.
Both of Kurmay's cases are pending before Senior U.S. District
Judge Warren W. Eginton.
Judge lifts Bridgeport Police oversight
09:20:52 PM EDT
HAVEN -- A federal judge penned the beginning of the end of more than 25 years of court oversight of the Bridgeport Police
Department when she granted it autonomy for the next 18 months.
In a five-page order released publicly Friday, U.S.
District Judge Janet Bond Arterton ended a required rotation of police officers through the city's geographic areas every
12 months, returned authority to hear and rule on complaints of racial discrimination and harassment to the chief, returned
the appeal process to the Board of Police Commissioners and allowed the city to hire an assistant chief.
The judge also
gave the police chief the power to appoint half the staff of all specialized units -- such as K-9, Mounted Patrol, Tactical
Narcotics Team, Emergency Services and Scuba -- on qualifications beyond seniority
But out of caution, Arterton ordered
Bridgeport and the Bridgeport Guardians, a group of black police officers, to jointly file a report on June 12 summarizing
the progress of her order.
Additionally, the judge told both sides that on Sept. 1, 2010, she will review the steps
taken to determine if the 1983 order designed to eliminate widespread discrimination in the department should be vacated.
Guardians believe this is a good first step toward determining if the Bridgeport police department can govern itself and treat
its black police officers fairly," said Antonio Ponvert III, a lawyer with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, a
Bridgeport law firm that brought the discrimination case back in 1978.
Ponvert warned "this does not end judicial oversight but, in fact, puts the department under even more scrutiny."
said any missteps between now and Sept. 1, 2010 would put the order back into "full force," resulting in "many,
many more years of litigation."
But Mayor Bill Finch vowed the city "will continue our efforts to make sure
all Bridgeport police officers are treated fairly and evenly."
For now, Arterton removed several of the requirement
the late U.S. District Judge T.F. Gilroy Daly put in place following a 1981 trial. Daly determined black officers in Bridgeport
were disciplined more harshly, assigned to crime-ridden areas and rarely promoted or placed in specialized units.
Meekins, a retired police officer and now president of the East End Community Council, was a plaintiff in that case. He experienced
harsh suspensions, many of which he felt were in retaliation for helping bring the suit.
but we did what we had to do," he said Friday. "I hope the city and its police department have learned from this
experience. Today, we've got more black, Hispanic and female officers, and I think we've all grown and learned from
In the last decade, Finch points out the city hired two black police chiefs and promoted a Hispanic officer
to acting chief.
"Judge Arterton has given us the opportunity to show we can handle our own business," said
Sgt. William Ronald Bailey, the Guardians' president who also brought discrimination complaints. "Acting Chief (Joseph
L.) Gaudette has met with us and knows what needs to be done."
The required annual rotation of police officers
impacted the ability of officers to forge relationships in neighborhoods they worked, according to Gaudette and Associate
City Attorney Arthur Laske III.
"The required rotation goes against every rule of community policing," said
Laske. "The department can now deploy its officers as needed."
For the past 25 years, the court vested William
Clendenen, a New Haven lawyer, with the authority to investigate, hear and rule on complaints involving racial discrimination
and harassment lodged by black officers. While Clendenen will retain control of the roughly dozen pending cases, Arterton
returned authority of any future cases to Gaudette and the Police Commission for at least the next 18 months.
according to Finch, will enable the city to save the money its been paying Clendenen for his work.
ruling the city must pay $300,000 within 90 days to Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder. Previously, the firm said it will use
the money to recruit, train, mentor and tutor black officers.
Arterton also ordered Bridgeport to allocate $300,000
in six annual installments of $50,000 to recruit minority and females police officers.
"This represents a new
day for the city and its police department," Laske said. "It will create a better environment for police officers
to work and should improve the quality of the police department."
In a separate 25-page ruling, Arterton declined
to allow eight Bridgeport Police officers seeking promotion to detective and a white civilian seeking an entry level position
to intervene in the matter. All opposed the interim order
Under scrutiny, police records room reopens
11:35:40 AM EDT
-- Police officers are working overtime to make up for deep staff reductions in the Police Department's records room.
In January, during the last round of citywide layoffs, four typist positions were eliminated in the records division
and five other workers were "bumped" from their jobs by employees with more seniority, eliminating the entire nine-person
The only staff members left were Sgt. James Kirkland, who is in charge of the records room, and Officer
Jonna Mack, who were left to train the five new people who took jobs in the records division as a result of the bumping process.
of the shake-up, the records room's hours of operation were cut to Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon to 4 p.m. It
was closed all day Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Kirkland and Mack also began logging a combined 48 hours of overtime a
week, or about $2,443, according to Police Chief Joseph Gaudett.
At the end of February, however, Andrew Nunn, the city's
chief administrative officer, sent an e-mail to department heads informing them that all departments must remain open to the
public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, unless authorized to do otherwise by the mayor.
cuts have led to departments requesting a reduction of public hours due to workload and staff reductions. Please be advised
that the mayor has not authorized this," Nunn wrote.
As of Monday, however, the police records room was
still open to the public only three days a week.
Asked on Wednesday
why his department did not revert back to the standard hours until Tuesday, the day after a Connecticut Post reporter inquired
about the reduction in hours, Gaudett said, "I was not included in that group. I basically didn't receive the memo."
The records room is now open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. According to Elaine Ficarra, the spokeswoman
for Mayor Bill Finch, "Light-duty officers will be assigned regular hours in the records room to help manage the window
and fulfill the public's requests."
Gaudett confirmed that the two officers assigned to the records room will
not be logging overtime. He also said he may assign another officer to the division in the "near future" to restore
the half-day schedule on Saturdays, when the office had been open from 9 a.m. to noon.
"The new folks are getting
up to speed slowly. Thank God for Kirkland and Mack, and their willingness to making sure the work gets done," Gaudett
2 new Bridgeport K-9s walk the beat
11:38:09 PM EST
Click photo to enlarge
Officer Pasquale Feola, left, with Caro, and Officer
Daniel... (Brian A. Pounds/Staff photographer)
BRIDGEPORT -- Though the city's fiscal crisis has triggered dozens
of layoffs, one specialized police unit has slipped the budgetary collar and is expanding.
Police dogs Caro and Cooper
hit the streets in December, boosting the ranks of the K-9 Corps to seven German shepherds. Just last year, however, the unit
was on the list of other police divisions that faced disbanding because of the city's budget woes.
The new additions
mean extra officers with senses beyond human range. Since January, the K-9 unit has assisted in 11 incidents from drug arrests
to burglary and robbery suspects.
"A police canine's enhanced senses along with their speed and agility make
them an invaluable tool for fighting crime in our community," said police Sgt. Kevin Gilleran, head of the division since
Even Mayor Bill Finch, who has had to impose the other layoffs, supports the dogs. The two were free with
a grant from Milk Bone and the A&P Super Foodmart, which Finch accepted on behalf of the department last year. The
city does pay for all the dogs' food and care, but State Police train the animals and their handlers at no charge, Gilleran
The dogs are worth it, said acting Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. They can search buildings, track people and
assist in subduing suspects. They can find people or objects with their keen noses, picking up trails more than 24 hours old
from something as small as a shell casing.
cheap, but they're very affectionate. I believe we are the largest single canine
unit of all municipal departments. We're very proud of that," he said. "Think of the lives we save."
one case in January, Luger, another police dog, bit and subdued a driver who police said struck a pedestrian near Bridgeport
Hospital, throwing her in the air and breaking both of her legs. The driver, Darren McDermott, 37, of Claudia Drive, Milford,
abandoned the car nearby and ran a short distance before the dog caught up with him, police said. His charges, including driving
under the influence and second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, are pending in Bridgeport Superior Court.
skills and dedication are two reasons Officer Pasquale Feola, Caro's handler, and Officer Daniel Gomez Jr., handler of
Cooper, appreciate their canine charges.
"He's been very obedient. He listens to you all the time. That's
the best partner you can have," Gomez said.
Both officers also care for their dogs outside work. That helps because
they live with their partners, who serve double-duty as protectors and playmates.
Both officers said their families
play with the dogs, who don't mind at all.
But when the dogs are on the job, they're serious. They respond to
commands immediately, and can sense when it's time to work.
Feola demonstrated with Caro one recent day. The dog
lounged at his master's feet most of the time.
But bring out the collar and Caro is ready to go.
held up the collar, the 2-year-old, 95-pound shepherd bolted up and placed his front paws on the officer's chest, slipping
his head through. Then, at Feola's command, the dog lay back down. "If I get into work mode, he gets into work mode,"
A young dog like Cooper has a service life of five to seven years if he doesn't get injured, and all
the dogs in the unit are young, Gilleran said.
But keeping the canines can be difficult. After passing a boot-camp style
four months of training with the state police, they have to train eight hours a month and get recertified every six months,
The recertification is free through the state police and they are paid for their required eight hours
of training per month, he added.
The boot camp puts the human-canine team through mental and physical challenges. Dogs
have to overcome some instincts like fear of walking on different types of surfaces or into dark places.
also have to learn everything about their dogs.They also had to carry the animals while running and learn to give them cardiopulmonary
"They actually teach you to teach your dog," Feola said. Of 17 human and canine partners, 15
passed the course that Feola and Gomez took.
The other handlers and their dogs include Gilleran and Titus; Mark Martocchio
and Luger; Joseph Morales and Riko; Heriberto Rodriguez and Sampson; and Andres Talavera and Recon. One dog and handler is
on every eight-hour shift, Gilleran said.
The dogs can also be cross-trained to sniff out drugs. Riko has that skill
and Gilleran said he hopes to have two more trained. Riko has worked on four drug cases that resulted in arrests.
Bridgeport Police K-9 Corps provides a valuable resource to the community," Gilleran said.
Bridgeport's marine cops hone skills despite weather
Written by Chipp Reid
|Friday, January 23, 2009 |
It’s one of the dream jobs in the summer, but in the winter, patrolling the waters of Long
Island Sound can be cold, wet and nasty.
For the members of the Bridgeport Police Marine Unit, however, the onset of
winter doesn’t signal a time of hibernation.
“Now is when we do a lot of our training,” said Bob Christie,
the unit commander. “We use winter to learn new procedures and to become proficient with new equipment. We also still
go out and patrol. Patrolling infrastructure and the port area remains one of our primary responsibilities.”
unit has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in honing both its patrol and interdiction skills, and
one of the skills the officers know they must have is the ability to work in all conditions, including biting cold and driving
Four members of the unit went out Jan. 16 in snowy, freezing conditions to conduct a live-fire drill.
must conduct live-fire drills at least four times a year.
“This is really some of the most difficult training
we can do,” said Officer Mike Killian. “It’s one thing to take aim at a target in a range or when the water
is perfectly still. It’s another to try to hit a target when the boat is bouncing and the target is bouncing, and we’re
firing at close range. Just imagine if we had to engage a target at long-range.”
It’s not just conjecture.
Bridgeport marine unit regularly practices intercepting and boarding vessels with the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border
Patrol agents from the Department of Homeland Security. Christie said training for any contingency, especially in the traditionally
slower winter months, keeps the unit ready for the height of the boating season.
“It’s a perishable skill
and like anything requires constant refreshing,” Christie said. “We have the luxury of being a year-round marine
unit, so we’re able to train and stay prepared.”
The marine police use weapons ranging from personal sidearms
— .40 caliber Sig Sauer semi-automatic pistols — to much heavier ordnance including Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine
guns and M14 assault rifles. Conditions Jan. 16 were far from perfect as the officers left the dock in Bridgeport Harbor.
Visibility was at a bare minimum while the blowing snow and sea spray froze instantly on deck.
a matter of balance and timing,” and Officer Ed Martocchio. “It’s a skill level like anything else.”
and Officer Vin Lariccia emptied several clips of ammunition engaging a target roughly 50 yards from the boat. The officers
waited for the patrol boat to hit the top of a swell before firing, usually striking the target. Still, it was far from easy
to score hits.
“We have to train in all environments,” Lariccia said. “The bad guys don’t stop
operating just because it’s cold or it’s snowing out.”
Bridgeport has the only year-round marine unit
from New Haven to Norwalk. Although the officers primarily patrol Bridgeport Harbor and infrastructure such as bridges and
power stations around Bridgeport, the unit is on call 24 hours a day to help other communities.
In December, the officers
responded to a call from the Coast Guard in New Haven when it appeared a Russian sailor jumped from his ship in an attempt
to illegally enter the United States. Although the Coast Guard dealt with the situation by the time Christie arrived, the
lieutenant said it was proof of the unit’s value.
“Whatever the scenario, we try to prepare, and we are
the only ones out there other than the Coast Guard,” Christie said. “It’s an easy job to do in August when
it’s 85 and sunny. Everyone wants this detail, but even when it’s snowing and single digits out, we’re still
Bridgeport union agrees to furloughs,
Updated: 01/27/2009 10:58:34 PM EST
-- A city union representing school and municipal employees has ratified a new four-year contract that freezes wages for two
years and requires workers to take a five-day, unpaid furlough.
The agreement reached with Local 1522, Council 4 of
the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was announced Tuesday by city officials. The union represents
The deal freezes salary increases for the first two years. In the final two years, salaries increase by
2.5 percent every six months from July 1, 2010, through Jan. 1, 2012. In addition, union members will take five days off without
pay between now and the end of the school year in June 2009.
Altogether, the concessions amount to $1.15 million in
savings, said city Budget Director Thomas Sherwood. On the school side, Sherwood said there should be $613,000 in savings
when salaries paid by grants are factored out.
Robert Henry, chief of staff for the school system, challenged that
figure, saying the savings is closer to $500,000.
A tentative agreement was reached Jan. 16 between the city and union
leaders, and the contract was ratified late last week. It next goes to the City Council for review.
president of Local 1522, did not return repeated phone calls for comment.
Although 642 of the union's employees
work for the school system as classroom and library aides, special education van drivers and clerical workers, the contract
is negotiated by the city. On the city side, the union represents about 119 sanitation,
parks, road and recycling workers. On average, Local 1522 workers make about $33,000 a year.
of Local 1522 employees are paid from state and federal grants. The city cannot recoup savings realized by the zero-salary
increase and furloughs for those employees. Sherwood suggested the Board of Education still might be able to keep those dollars
and spend them on other school expenses.
As part of the deal, there would be no layoffs of collective-bargaining unit
employees through June 30, 2010.
Adam Wood, chief of staff for Mayor Bill Finch, called the negotiations long but fair
to the workers. He said that when raises do kick in, so does a health benefit reopener that could affect employee premium
Henry said the no-layoff clause potentially hampers the flexibility of the school board in making budget decisions
best for the students. The board is facing the strong possibility of zero-budget increases from the city and state in the
next fiscal year.
Sherwood said that if the AFSCME workers aren't getting raises and aren't adding to the cost,
"why should you have to cut them?"
Already, 61 school employees, including Supt. of Schools John Ramos and
his top administrators, have agreed to take furloughs of up to five days once the board approves a giveback package. Other
school employees who have agreed to take furloughs include 21 tradespeople, seven department coordinators and 26 unaffiliated
Henry told the board Monday that the Bridgeport Education Association, which represents city teachers, has
decided not to negotiate any concessions. A five-day furlough among teachers could have reaped $4.4 million in savings, according
to school officials.
Sherwood said teachers still have an option to come back to the table and bargain.
no concessions have come from the Bridgeport Council of Administrators and Supervisors, which represents school principals
and other middle managers.
So far, the school system has identified $2 million in potential savings toward a city request
that it not spend $7 million of the $215 million budget it was given for the 2008-09 fiscal year.
Mayor Bill Finch
is seeking the $7 million to help plug a projected $20 million deficit in the city budget this fiscal year.
New police squad hits the streets
04:25:20 PM EST
-- A revamped Neighborhood Enforcement Team is back on the streets.
The goal of the Strategic Enforcement Team, or
SET, is similar to NET, which targeted quality-of-life issues one neighborhood at a time. This time, four officers from the
12-officer team will be assigned to three sectors encompassing the city, said Detective Keith Bryant, the police spokesman.
be covering the entire city while they're on," Bryant said.
NET lasted nearly two years, focusing on things
like breaks-ins and illegal drug sales in a particular neighborhood, as well as speeding or liquor sales to minors. The squad
also organized informational sessions with liquor store and bar owners and area colleges in an effort to head off problems
with underage drinking. The squad also was generally accompanied by a probation officer to crack down on offenders who had
violated their probation.
NET officers, in an effort to foster trust with people in their neighborhood beats, handed
out their cell phone so residents could contact them any time.
The new team has two officers who had served with NET:
Jessi Pizarro and Arthur Calvao. The officer in charge of SET is Lt. Stephen Shuck, and Sgt. John Evans is supervisor. Officers
Gilberto Del Valle, Ramon Garcia, Edward Golding, Luis Gutierrez, Joseph Liskiewicz, Benjamin Mauro, Gabriel Meszaros and
Gerardo Ortiz make up the rest of the team.
Establishment of NET during the administration of Chief Bryan
Norwood had touched off controversy within the Police Department. The police union
objected to Norwood's selection of officers for the squad without regard to seniority prerogatives as defined in the union's
Meanwhile, the Detective Bureau has increased its ranks, bringing it to its full complement of 35.
Nine officers were recently named provisional detectives: David Garcia, Todd Hoben, Martin Heanue, John Burke, William Reilly,
Mark Graham, Mark Belinkie, James Borrico and James Kennedy Jr.
Provisional is a temporary title, given to the nine
because of ongoing litigation over the hiring list based on the Sept. 9, 2006, exam. The grading system was changed and the
list reformed twice, but a Superior Court judge threw out the two later lists. He ruled the third list had an adverse impact
on African-American candidates and violated federal law.
Bridgeport police contract wins final OK
12:02:59 AM EST
-- A new police contract that defers raises for two years and contributes $824,000 toward reducing this year's $20 million
deficit has won final approval from the City Council.
While the wage pact for the Police Department's 434 officers
passed unanimously Monday night, several council members worried the city will face millions in expenses in year three and
four of the contract.
The police union narrowly approved the contract last month.
The contract, which avoids
threatened police layoffs, calls for no raises in the first two years and 6 and 5 percent raises in the last two years. Those
raises add up to $2.5 million over the two-year period.
"I can't vote for a contract that's going to increase
taxes without knowing where the money is coming from," said council member James Holloway, D-139, who later voted for
the pact. "This is going to kick in and the city is going to have to find the money."
Mayor Bill Finch conceded
the pact represents "a bit of a risk, considering the current climate. But I believe we have to preserve public safety.
No one knows what's around the corner. But it's a reasoned man's approach to do this."
fear what year three will bring," added council member Bob Walsh, D-132. "They don't see a plan for how we get
to year three and four. I, too, fear what the future will hold."
Finch said his plan is simple. "If it means
cutting other parts of the budget to maintain police and fire,
I will present a budget that does that," the mayor said.
are skating on thin ice and fighting hard not to lose financial control to the state," Finch added, referring to possible
imposition of a state financial review board if the city does not end the fiscal year in the black.
The Finch administration
has sought to convince municipal unions to give back $4.5 million in scheduled raises or other benefits this year to help
close the deficit, and the mayor is about halfway toward meeting his goal. Negotiations are under way with the American Federation
of State, County and Municipal Employees, the city's biggest union, which is being asked for $1.2 million in givebacks.
city has found about $5.2 million in other savings this fiscal year, and asked the Board of Education to return $7 million.
If school officials do not meet that request, the city may be forced to make another round of layoffs.
'No-raise' police pact nears approval
04:38:56 PM EST
-- A police union contract, giving officers no raises through June 2010, is almost official after passing the City Council's
Contract Committee Tuesday night.
The proposed four-year pact, which Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159 members approved
by 15 votes, may save the city $800,000 in the current fiscal year. In the third year of the contract, officers would get
a 6 percent raise, followed by a 5 percent boost in the fourth and final year.
The contract now goes to the full council
"I think this is the best we can do given the national financial crisis," said Officer Frank Cuccaro,
union president, who attended the meeting in City Hall.
The pact would also prevent the layoffs of nine rookies. Widespread
layoffs are one cost-saving measure Mayor Bill Finch implemented since learning of a looming $20 million city budget deficit.
mayor also has asked for concessions from all city unions, and Cuccaro said the police union "played our part" in
helping resolve the deficit.
The result of not negotiating could have been worse, as 51 members of the National Association
of Government Employees were issued layoff notices earlier this week after making no concessions.
The police union did
battle the mayor's requests with public protests and a no-confidence vote, but the friction subsided with the resignation
of Chief Bryan T. Norwood and the appointment of Deputy Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. as acting chief in
Gaudett, who as chief is not part of the union, endorsed
"I think this gives an opportunity to move forward. We were stuck for a long time," he said.
pact saves the city money in the short run, but the future is uncertain, said Tom Sherwood, who runs the Office of Policy
"Today, it's the best we can do. All we can do is hope that the region, the country changes,"
Department morale, in the face of no raises, concerned committee member Carlos Silva, D-136.
replied it is the best deal on the table for now. "It's obvious that the men and women want the money now. It was
a hard sell. It was very contentious. Hopefully by next month we'll boost everybody's morale," he said.
if the lack of raises might force out some of the 80 officers eligible for retirement in January, Cuccaro said retirement
pay for a city patrol officer, $27,500 a year, is too low to live on in Connecticut.
"Trust me, nobody's leaving.
I would say don't count on a mass exodus," he said.
Meanwhile, one city union, the Bridgeport Fire Fighters
Association Local 834, has a contract until June 30, 2009. Union President Robert Whitbread has been following negotiations
December 01, 2008 |
Mayor Bill Finch is hoping the police union’s approval
of a new four-year contract will encourage other municipal employee unions to also settle their contracts.
appreciate the leadership the police union gave us,” Finch said.
Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159 members voted
to approve the contract by the narrow margin of 156-141 on Monday night.
The proposed contract still must be approved
by the City Council, which appears likely. It would be retroactive to July 1 of this year, when the city’s 2008-09 fiscal
The police contract calls for zero-percent raises for the next two years, followed by 5.7% in year three
and 4.8% in year four. The raises in years three and four would be implemented in half-year intervals: At 3% each in July
and January of 2010-11, and 2.5% each in July and January of 2011-12.
Also, officers’ take-home vehicles would
be eliminated at the discretion of the police chief, and holiday and vacation time payments would not be paid in the current
fiscal year but paid in the future.
In addition, the planned layoffs of nine police officers would be rescinded. No
changes would be made in police officers’ health-care benefits, but this issue would be up for discussion in two years
in a so-called “re-opener,” according to the proposed contract.
Finch’s stated goals in contract negotiations
with the police unions and other unions has been to get zero-percent pay raises, higher employee health-care premium and service
co-payments, and a reduction in take-home vehicles.
He appears to have met two of those goals, with no givebacks on
health-care benefits from the police at this time. However, the pay raises work out to an average of more than 2.5% annually
over four years, which has generated some limited criticism from other public officials.
Still, Finch said the contract
will save the city considerable money in the short term to help close the potential $20 million budget gap in the current
He said the police contract could save the city about $1 million in 2008-09, on top of the zero-percent pay
raises, mostly by putting off holiday and vacation time payments and eliminating many take-home cars.
He also predicted
savings would be found by allowing police administrators to implement better management practices that would lower overtime
costs and lead to other efficiencies.
“We have to get through this year,” Finch said Monday night. “That’s
the focus. Nothing about the city’s finances is easy. Plus, public safety is a priority. You don’t have anything
if you’re not safe.”
Finch is seeking concessions from all city unions. Seven other union contracts have
lapsed and are in negotiations. The mayor also is asking unions with existing contracts to make givebacks, such as the firefighters
The Board of Education also is working with its employee unions to try to find labor contract savings.
Bridgeport cop contract passes by 15
Bridgeport cops agree to forgo raises for 2 years
12:38:15 AM EST
-- Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159 narrowly ratified a four-year contract Monday that gives no raises for the first two
years, but rescinds laying off nine officers.
The vote was 156-141 out of 423 union members eligible to cast ballots.
voting took place at the Miamogue Yacht Club on Seaview Avenue during the day and evening.
"We made out OK considering
the national economic crisis," said Officer Frank Cuccaro, union president.
The pact, which must now go before
the City Council for approval, is expected to save the city $800,000 in the current fiscal year, Elaine Ficarra, spokeswoman
for Mayor Bill Finch, said in an e-mailed statement Monday night.
She said the deal includes no raises for the next
two years, followed by 5.7 percent raises in year three and 4.8 percent in year four. The raises in years three and four will
be implemented in half-year intervals. Also, take-home vehicles are to be eliminated at the discretion of the police chief,
and holiday and vacation time payments will not be paid in the current fiscal year, she said.
Cuccaro disagreed with
the figures on the raises for years three and four. He said they were 6 percent and 5 percent respectively.
contract is a good thing for the city and for the police union, and will provide the city with significant savings during
the next two fiscal years. Their action is a terrific example of how the unions can work together with the city to effect
budget savings, especially in the turbulent economic times we are facing," Finch
said in the statement.
The previous contract expired last July 1, the beginning of the current fiscal year.
Most contracts expire at the end of the fiscal year.
Bridgeport is facing a $20 million budget deficit, and Finch has
asked for union givebacks totaling $8.9 million to help plug the hole. He had called for laying off 10 high-ranking officers,
one of whom later retired.
But the remaining nine could have "bumped" lower-ranking officers, trickling down
to the newest officers, a class of recruits sworn in two months ago.
The savings from the elimination of take-home cars,
Finch has said, are expected to total anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, depending on how many miles the officers drove the
city vehicles for personal use. Savings may also come from acting Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr.'s new personnel deployment
plan aimed at reducing overtime, Ficarra said.
Bridgeport cop also on the paranormal
Updated: 11/29/2008 10:23:37 PM EST
After patrolling Bridgeport for 11 years, Police Officer James Myers
has found another calling: the spiritual realm.
Break-ins at the downtown complex of the shuttered Savoy Hotel and
the Poli Palace/Majestic theaters got him inside the rundown buildings, where he took photos, an old hobby for the 38-year-old
father of three.
But these photos were different from other abandoned buildings he's shot.
to show up on my camera," he said.
Not just anything: orbs, which indicate the presence of spiritual energy. And
Then a chance meeting in Bridgeport Hospital with famed psychic and Monroe resident Lorraine Warren set him
on the path to becoming a paranormal researcher. While working there, he heard Warren, 81, was a patient and approached her.
She knew his name before he introduced himself.
As Myers recalled: "She said, 'Jimmy, how are you?'"
then, in his spare time, Myers has been assisting Warren and her son-in-law, Tony Spera, with investigations for the A&E
network's show "Paranormal State." He helps interview people and collect data with recording equipment.
are pretty much calling me their psychic photographer," Myers said. "[Warren] says I draw the energy."
not sure of that, but supernatural things seem to like his camera. While taking Warren and Tony and Judy Spera on a tour of
the theater complex on Sept. 7, he took photos covered with orbs. They also appeared
in photos he took of the Colonial Theater on Boston Avenue, where the Warrens had dates.
7 is the birthday of Warren's late husband, Ed Warren, the famed demonologist. He died on Aug. 29, 2006, and worked at
the Poli as a teenager where they sometimes saw movies, Warren said.
Myers assembled his photos into a slide show dedicated
to the Warrens, and Lorraine Warren is showing it during her lectures all over the United States. He goes by the handle 826
Paranormal and says he is "looking at the unknown through a cop's eyes."
He said considers himself "open-minded
"I go in with the same attitude as at work. It's just doing another form of investigation,"
It's also a hobby and stress reliever that has proven a little creepy sometimes. While he's never
seen anything with his naked eyes, he's definitely felt things.
"The only time I ever felt something [in the
Poli] was in the Savoy at the main desk," he said. "It felt very, very cold, like an ice chill down my back."
said she thinks there may have been two homicides there in the 1940s. The team checked for drafts but found nothing.
he met Warren, he took photos at the former Norwich Psychiatric Hospital, where he experienced the most disturbing thing to
date."It felt like ice water being poured down the back of my shirt," he said.
He also got blurred photographs
at a house in Monroe he believed to be haunted. That house has since burned down.
But, he added, "I've been
disappointed on many cases."
Warren, who said she can see auras and can learn about a person from them, felt something
special for Myers immediately upon their meeting.
"I was very impressed by him. He seemed very sincere. I could
see a man who had a really deep interest," she said. His job as a police officer makes him disciplined, a requirement
for any paranormal researcher, according to Warren.
Myers is also wary, but not scared, in paranormal situations.
a guy that isn't afraid," she said, adding, "You've got to be leery. It's stupid not to be leery"
in haunted areas.
And the Savoy complex is still occupied. Warren said she had a vision of the past during a tour: a
couple watching a movie in the Poli, as if time had stopped for them.
In Myers' photos of her sitting in the theaters,
Warren is surrounded by orbs. They float about the ceiling. They represent people attached to the building, some possibly
actors who gave up family and personal lives to perform there, she said.
Still, Myers' big test came Mischief Night,
Oct. 30, when he and a Stamford police officer, who has been helping the Warrens for years, stayed overnight in the Occult
Museum in the ghost hunters' Monroe home. People who try to stay there overnight have fled in fear, Warren said. It contains
artifacts from their investigations, some famous for reportedly leading to the death of anyone who touched them.
didn't touch, but looking through a video camera, he saw a moving orb. "It looked like there was a ping-pong ball
bouncing around my camera," Myers said.
Working with Lorraine and the Speras, visions like that could become a
regular sight for the officer. But he maintains a professional attitude in his work.
"He's taking photos, he's
taking recordings, he's gaining knowledge," Warren said. "He's a good listener. He doesn't go foolhardy
into anything. He's not in everybody's face."
"All in all, he's really proven himself to us,"
Bridgeport has tentative deal with cop
Bridgeport contract avoids layoffs, restricts use
of city vehicles
Updated: 11/23/2008 10:58:04 PM EST
-- City police would forgo raises for two years and lose city vehicles for personal use, but nine jobs slated to get the axe
would be saved under a tentative pact between the mayor and police union.
Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159 and the
city announced Saturday that they have reached a conditional agreement on a new four-year contract that may save the city
$800,000 in the current fiscal year. In the third year of the contract, cops would get a 6 percent raise, followed by a 5
percent boost in the fourth and final year of the deal.
"It's a little higher" than the department's
usual raises, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch acknowledged Sunday. "Our primary focus is avoiding state financial takeover,
and with a little bit of luck in year three [of the contract] we're hoping to see some growth in our grand list. There
were numerous meetings and lots of phone calls between both sides. Let's just say both sides exhausted each other."
is facing a $20 million deficit and Finch has asked for union givebacks totaling $8.9 million to help plug the hole. Finch
has also threatened layoffs and wants to sell some city-owned property.
The police union still has to ratify the contract.
Union officials have scheduled a meeting to discuss the proposed deal followed by a vote next Monday, the same day Finch wants
the City Council to send the deal to its Contracts Committee for review.
Frank Cuccaro, president of Local 1159, called
the zero percent raises for the first two years, followed by the raises in the third
and fourth year, "fair raises."
About the package as a whole, "given the economic conditions
in our country," Cuccaro said, "I think it's a fair deal."
Cuccaro said union officials would have
ample opportunity to educate officers about the contract provisions during lineups and roll calls, as well as at the union's
The proposed contract will restore the jobs of nine officers laid off in October and return the force
to 423 officers. In addition to the zero percent raises in the first two years of the deal, the contract would cut vacation
time payments for the remainder of this fiscal year, and officers would not be allowed to take home police cars unless authorized
by the chief. The savings from that policy change, Finch said, is expected to save the city anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000,
depending on how many miles the officers drove the city vehicles for personal use.
"Unfortunately, nobody has been
managing or keeping track of how often city vehicles are out for personal use. There are some positions, such as police chief
and fire chief and their deputies who need to have around-the-clock access to their cars. But most positions don't require
that," Finch said. "So, we are going to take a harder look at who is using [city vehicles] for personal use"
and curtail that to save money.
SET supplants NET for Bpt. cops
10:31:07 AM EST
-- The police Neighborhood Enforcement Team is getting a new name, new faces and more officers, but acting Police Chief Joseph
Gaudett Jr. says its mission to target quality-of-life issues will not change.
Gaudett announced this week that he
plans to organize a unit called the Strategic Enforcement Team that will "capitalize on the success of NET in making
a positive impact on the city's neighborhoods."
"The bar has been set and it's a pretty high bar in
terms of performance of the [Neighborhood Enforcement] team," the acting chief said.
The squad, started in February
2007 by then-Chief Bryan T. Norwood, focused on one neighborhood at a time, without having to respond to the range of calls
that patrol officers are dispatched to investigate. NET dealt with everything from gangs to loitering to underage drinking,
and recovered weapons, seized drugs and arrested probation violators. Both Mayor Bill Finch and the public cited the team
for cleaning up problems in the neighborhoods. Norwood resigned in October after a 2 1/2 years to head the police force in
There were about a dozen NET officers before they were all reassigned to the Patrol Division last week.
But they can bid to get assigned to the new SET, with a deadline of Monday, said Elaine Ficarra, spokeswoman for Finch.
said SET will have 12 officers, a sergeant and a lieutenant. It will "assist the Patrol Division in the reduction of
crime and improve
the quality-of-life of city residents through the use of short-term crime suppression in targeted
areas," he said.
It could be in more places at the same time, according the chief.
The new squad,
however, will also comply with the union contract, in which assignments to specialized units are based on seniority. The union
argued Norwood had violated that proviso in handpicking NET members without regard to seniority, and a state labor arbitrator
The arbitrator sided with the union, but Norwood and the city appealed the ruling. Norwood had also been seeking
right of assignment, or the ability to handpick, members of other the department's other specialized units.
appeal now has been dropped, and the SET standards will include seniority, physical fitness and disciplinary records, Ficarra
Officer Frank Cuccaro, president of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159, approved of the new unit.
think the SET team will be very successful. Chief Gaudett is moving the department forward in the right direction. We have
come a long way in a very short time," he said.
The SET proposal drew comments at the Board of Police Commissioners
meeting this week where Gaudett announced the team's creation.
State Rep. Andres Ayala Jr., D-Bridgeport, and landlord
Frank Martinez, 73, were among the supporters of the quality-of-life approach taken by NET.
"I had several constituents
who had a pleasant experience with the NET team," Ayala said. "The team was probably one of the most effective strategies
Martinez, who owns a block in the East Side, said he works with police to keep tenants safe and
NET helped clean his buildings of loitering and related issues.
The city has had other specialized police details that
dealt with quality-of-life, such as Mayor Joseph Ganim's MOST, or Mayor's Office Special Targets, in the 1990s.
Bridgeport layoffs on hold
job cuts 'on hold' as workers remain employed
Article Last Updated: 10/28/2008
12:25:30 AM EDT
-- Andrew Abate, the city's longtime director of the Water Pollution Control Authority, is still in his office.
are the 10 police officers Mayor Bill Finch planned to lay off because some -- particularly those in the department's
top ranks -- were racking up too much overtime.
In fact, it's hard to find any workers who have actually been laid
off because of Finch's recent order that 31 employees be axed from the city's payroll. The list was to include 10
high-ranking police officers, five park police officers, Abate and 15 other City Hall workers.
The layoffs were announced
at the end of September, and were scheduled to take effect last Friday. But the only people laid off as of Monday were five
members of the city's parks police force. And under union rules, the senior park police officer "bumped" a school
police cop and took his job.
The reason for the hold on layoffs appears primarily attributable to union and civil service
rules, and the mayor's apparent lack of knowledge about both.
Elaine Ficarra, Finch's spokeswoman, confirmed
Monday the 10 police officers targeted for layoff -- the deputy chiefs, sergeants and lieutenants -- still have their jobs.
The administration is now negotiating with the police union, and if sufficient savings are found, the positions may
be spared. Officially, the layoffs are "on hold," Ficarra said.
Abate, who also was issued a layoff notice,
remains on the job as well.
The WPCA is reviewing its operations to see if other
savings can be found to allow him to keep his job, Ficarra said.
The administration is also negotiating with
all of the city's other unions over the fate of City Hall workers targeted for layoff. If departments can find sufficient
savings to offset a layoff, that job may be saved, she said.
"Everyone is in negotiation," said Ficarra, who
indicated a potential deal is on the table regarding police department layoffs. "We are hopeful a resolution will soon
The 31 layoffs Finch announced in September were intended to save $1.9 million, although that figure
was later reduced to $1.3 million when the savings were calculated on a fiscal year basis.
The actual number of layoffs
dropped to 28 after it was discovered that two part-time election machine mechanics were included, along with one Civil Service
Department employee. The Civil Service Commission ruled that its employee, Donna Reisinger, cannot be laid off because the
department is exempt from mayoral control.
The commission also ruled the 10 police officers, despite the fact that the
police union has no bumping rights in its contract, fall under civil service Rule 13, meaning police union members have bumping
rights, after all.
Ralph Jacobs, the city's personnel director, said the Civil Service Commission ruling means each
targeted officer can "bump" a less senior officer, in some cases all the way down to a patrol officers working the
"People would still be laid off, but not in the manner that some people originally thought," Jacobs
When Finch announced his layoffs, the mayor said police did not have bumping rights and stressed that no patrol
officers would be laid off.
Ficarra could not say if Finch now favors laying off patrol officers.
were designed to help reduce a looming deficit in the city's $492 million budget for 2008-09, which now hovers around
Police Board names officers
Updated: 10/24/2008 11:35:50 PM EDT
-- David Hall Sr. has been elected president of the Board of Police Commissioners and Theresa Brown vice president.
69, a U.S. Army veteran, has served on the board since 1999 and served as vice president since 2002. He was acting president
since Thomas L. Kanasky Jr. resigned in June.
"Your peer group elects you and that's always a plus," Hall
said, adding that his goals would be to create policies to deal with fraud, manipulation and abuse of sick leave and encourage
new police supervisors to get more leadership training.
"It's about managing multiple priorities," he
said. "The mayor [Bill Finch] is looking for a spirit of cooperation."
Hall said he would continue on the
board "as long as I feel I can do it."
Brown, a lawyer in New Haven, joined the board in January 2004.
honored to have been elected and I look forward to working with Commissioner Hall, for whom I have the greatest respect. I
hope to help keep the city of Bridgeport safe and on the move," she said.
The elections were unanimous.
Cop union offers alternatives to layoffs
Updated: 10/14/2008 11:38:10 PM EDT
-- With the approach of Oct. 24, the last day on the job for 15 police officers laid off by Mayor Bill Finch, both the police
union president and several members of the Board of Police Commissioners are suggesting alternative ways to close the city
budget's ballooning deficit.
"Redeployment would fill holes in certain areas of the Police Department and
it would in turn lower overtime costs," said Officer Frank Cuccaro, president of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159.
proposed that the mayor stop hiring of administrators paid $80,000 a year or more throughout the city, as well as stop using
private lawyers to handle some of the city's litigation.
Plus, Cuccaro said, the class of 19 rookies who graduated
from the Bridgeport Police Academy last Friday will save the department money, "if they're deployed properly."
15 police personnel are among of 31 city workers who Finch announced last month will be laid off. He also cut every municipal
department's budget by 10 percent and specifically ordered then-Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood to cut department overtime
by half to close the budget gap. Norwood announced last week that he is leaving his job here to become police chief in Richmond,
The Police Department overran its overtime budget by about $1.3 million in the last fiscal year.
people Finch laid off are Deputy Police Chiefs James Honis and Adam Radzimirski, each paid a salary of $97,258, the second
third highest on the list. Also laid off were four parks police officers, a school
police officer, two captains, one lieutenant and five sergeants.
Finch said Monday that he appreciated new
ideas, but had no further comment.
"All these items are under consideration and they're all part of the collective
bargaining process. I'm hopeful and grateful that people are putting ideas forward," he said.
The City Council
also recently took another step designed to rein in the police budget by approving the creation of a new assistant police
chief position -- the non-union post will have a salary of from $92,502 to $105,069 a year -- to help the chief control overtime
and conduct day-to-day operations. Now, the chief is the only non-union job in the department.
Daniel S. Roach, a member
of the police board, said he would try to avoid layoffs by rearranging schedules.
"If it's a question of excessive
overtime, I would be willing to work out something with the deputy chiefs on the chopping block. Keep them on, but without
overtime," he said. "I'm in favor of keeping tabs on overtime as opposed to layoffs."
never be in favor" of laying off patrol officers, he added.
Layoffs didn't have to be one of Finch's first
steps to control spending, said David Hall, the police board's vice president.
"I admire his enthusiasm and
his efforts to solve this problem, but I may not admire his management style the same way," Hall said of Finch.
should let the department heads form a savings plan for their own areas. "They know what they can do without," Hall
Andrew Nunn, the city's chief financial officer, has insisted that department heads were involved in the cutting
process, despite those who claimed they were not.
Ana Cruz, another police board member, called for compromise. Raises
should be frozen and highly paid administrators should take pay cuts while the city's finances are scrutinized.
calls for the city to form a group to strategize and examine expenditures," she said. "We need our police officers
to help protect our city."
Lower salaries "are better than not having a job, period," Cruz said.
Joseph Gaudett Jr. heads a second family
Updated: 10/15/2008 12:11:30 AM EDT
Click photo to enlarge
Newly appointed Acting Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph...
(Christian Abraham/Staff photographer)
BRIDGEPORT -- Deputy Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr., a married
father of two, is now in charge of a second family: the Bridgeport Police Department.
Gaudett, 47, will be the acting
police chief after he's sworn in this morning, replacing Bryan T. Norwood, who is expected to resign this morning, according
to police officials and Mayor Bill Finch.
Gaudett's promotion was announced Tuesday night in City Hall at a special
meeting of the city's Board of Police Commissioners. A search for a permanent replacement could take six to eight months,
Finch said. Norwood was sworn in last week as police chief in Richmond, Va., after serving 2 1/2 years in Bridgeport.
said Tuesday that serving in the interim as chief is just as challenging as being the permanent chief.
on duty 365 days, 24 hours, seven days [a week], there is no interim," he said.
Under Norwood, the police department
reduced crime "dramatically," and Gaudett will carry that on, Finch said.
"He is a tremendous police
officer and he will help keep us safe. His family has nearly a century of policework," Finch. His grandfather, father
and sister were officers.
The mayor called Gaudett "a bright star, a professional, a policeman's policeman.
We're getting a great leader," Finch added.
Gaudett, who started in 1983, thanked his colleagues, family and
friends who gathered in the City Council Chambers.
"I appreciate all your support. I promise
I won't let you down," he said.
The announcement ended a
week of uncertainty started last Tuesday when Norwood became Richmond's chief.
At first his last day was to be
at the end of the month, but officials said Norwood agreed to resign today.
The department and all city departments
are suffering from cuts caused by a growing city budget deficit. Finch had ordered Norwood to cut overtime in half after the
department overspent that budget by $1.3 million.
In August, the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159 voted no confidence
in both Finch and Norwood, and Finch laid off 15 officers.
But those gloomy issues seemed forgotten Tuesday night as
Gaudett stood with his wife, Diane, to accept the job. They have been married for 22 years and have two daughters, Joceyln,
19, and Camryn, 10.
Camryn jumped into her father's arms for a big hug after her father finished speaking.
February 2007, when Gaudett was promoted to deputy chief, she pinned his badge on him. On Sept. 9, 1969, an 8-year-old Gaudett
pinned a sergeant's badge on his father.
Gaudett was born in Bridgeport, and attended St. Augustine's School.
He now resides with his family in Newtown.
Officer Frank Cuccaro, police union president, called Gaudett "a fine
"I look forward to working with him," Cuccaro said.
Gaudett, who was deputy chief of administrative
services, has also been working on the radio system for a combination dispatch center for the police and fire departments
that is being built on Housatonic Avenue.
"What's better than having the guy who helped design it be the chief
now?" Finch said.
The mayor said that despite the city's problems, everything has had a silver lining. He said
Gaudett will improve department morale.
A larger ceremony is planned for this week, officials said.
19 rookie cops step up in Bridgeport
Updated: 10/10/2008 11:23:01 PM EDT
BRIDGEPORT -- Melody Pribesh started what could become a new family
tradition Friday night.
The city police sergeant of 11 years pinned a police officer's badge on her son, Donald
A. Bensey III, at a ceremony in City Hall where he and 18 others were sworn in, the city's 33rd class to graduate from
the Bridgeport Police Academy. Bensey also had the highest academic score in the class.
"I'm very proud of
him. He worked hard and he did really well," she said.
Pribesh, who also has three grown daughters, said she might
pin badges on two more of her children someday.
"Two of my daughters are hoping," she said.
58-year-old Gilberto Feliciano, husband of 12-year veteran Officer Minerva Feliciano, got his police badge, three years after
retiring from the U.S. Postal Service.
He completed 35 years at that job, but his heart was elsewhere. "I want
to follow in my wife's steps," he said. "I feel great. I feel excited. I'm happy. I finally reached my goal."
really proud of him," his wife said.
Feliciano said he tested for the New York City police department during his
15th year with the postal service, but decide to stay with the post office. Also, the couple has two grown children, one a
veteran and the other currently in the military.
Six of the city rookies live in Bridgeport. Sworn in to Bridgeport's
department on Friday were Bensey, John R. Cholakian, Joseph J. Cruz III, Michael R. Davila, Feliciano,
Ralph R. Fensore, Thomas F. Flaherty III, Thomas A. Gallbronner, Jeffrey A. Holtz,
Omar Jimenez, Jarah Mathews-Dixon, John Pachera, Roberto Quintanilla Jr., Michael L. Salemme III, Christopher Smith, Matthew
T. Szymczak, Angel M. Vazquez Jr., Robert J. Voccola and Alexander M. Wilde.
The rookies will earn about $42,000
a year to start, and join 432 other uniformed officers.
Also, Brandon Kaufman became a Bethel officer; Onoria Errichetti,
Easton; Justin G. Bisceglie, Domenic Monteleone and Julio J. Rodriguez, Norwalk; John V. Kekac and Brian P. McPadden, Shelton;
Anthony M. Giansanti and Robert M. Muschett, Stratford; and Jeremy P. Meurice, West Haven.
In Bridgeport, the new officers
must complete at least 400 hours of field training and they finish their probation four months after that, said Lt. Aida Remele,
head of training. The academy lasted 25 weeks.
Chief Bryan T. Norwood was slated to speak, according to the ceremony's
program, but he did not attend. He leaves at the end of the month to head the Richmond, Va., police, after 2 1/2 years in
Bridgeport. A meeting to select an interim chief, also scheduled for Friday, was pushed back to Tuesday.
and three deputy police chiefs addressed the graduates, as did Bensey.
Bensey said police work changes daily. "Today,
an officer must be sharp and continuously trained. Our education will not end today. It seems the more you learn, the more
there is to learn.," he said.
He also thanked Norwood, "who literally ran us to the ground" in the academy,
Assistant police chief job to be filled
Last Updated: 10/09/2008 06:25:47 PM EDT
-- City officials are forging ahead with plans to fill the newly created job of assistant police chief despite Chief Bryan
T. Norwood's decision to leave at the end of the month to take another job.
The assistant chief job -- a post that
will be neither union- nor civil service-affiliated -- was authorized by the City Council by a 12-1 vote at its Monday night
meeting. The job is being established with the specific administrative goals of cutting police overtime and overseeing discipline
in the department.
An interim police chief is expected to be announced Friday by Mayor Bill Finch to fill in until the
job can be filled on a permanent basis. The process will take months, however, as required by the city charter, including
a nationally advertised search, civil service testing, background checks and interviews. Finch will make the final decision
on a new chief from among three top candidates.
Before Norwood's unexpected decision to leave and take the job as
police chief in Richmond, Va., Finch had called for the new assistant chief's job to be established. The council still
must approve some details regarding the job, including a proposed salary range of $92,502 to $105,069.
a critical position," Finch said. "The chief is asking for another person who is not a member of a bargaining unit
to be his right hand and do the discipline. This is necessary to get overtime under control."
City police last
year racked up nearly $9
million in overtime, $1.3 million more than budgeted.
spokeswoman Elaine Ficarra on Thursday said that Norwood's departure would not have an impact on filling the assistant
chief job, although she said officials have not decided whether it will wait until the a new chief is hired.
month announced that 15 police officers will be laid off -- five parks police officers and 10 high-ranking officers -- some
of whom are among the highest-paid officers on the force, thanks mostly to overtime. Overall, the mayor is laying off 31 workers
in the latest round of cuts designed to control a growing budget deficit.
City Council member Bob Walsh, D-132, said
he doesn't understand why the assistant police chief would not be a civil service employee, even though the chief is.
will be the only position in the department that's not civil service. It's been said the chief wants to hire his own
person, so it's 'OK' to bypass civil service?" Walsh said, who voted against the resolution to create the
City Council President Thomas McCarthy, D-133, said the city's Civil Service Commission voted unanimously to
exempt the assistant chief from civil service requirements.
"This has to be unanimous," McCarthy told the
council. "It's up to the commission to decide if the job is tested or not. All you are voting on is if you want this
position. I'm in favor of this. Part of the role is to get the overtime down."
October 08, 2008 |
Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood announced Oct. 8 he will resign as Bridgeport’s
chief to become chief of the Richmond, Va., Police Department. His last day in the Bridgeport position will be Oct. 31.
Police Chief Bryan Norwood
sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Norwood began looking for a new job shortly after the union passed a “no-confidence”
vote in the chief and in Mayor Bill Finch, who continues to demand the department cut costs to help the city cope with an
Norwood has been battling the police union on a number of issues, from division appointments to disciplinary
The sources said Norwood was at odds with Finch over budget cuts the mayor wants in overtime. The department
was millions of dollars over budget in overtime in the last fiscal year. Finch has announced he would lay off 10 high-ranking
officers at the end of the month to help trim costs.
Finch said Norwood had done a lot to improve the Bridgeport Police
Department. "He’s done so much with our department to streamline workflow, increase police presence in the neighborhoods
and to help diversify the ranks,” Finch said. “In his two-and-a-half years here, he’s instituted many 21st
century policing techniques that have resulted in a double-digit drop in violent crimes, and a reduction of drugs and guns
on our streets. “
Norwood drew the ire of rank-and-file officers in August when he disbanded the department’s
12-officer Traffic Division as a cost-cutting measure. The outgoing chief also reportedly considered cuts to other specialized
squads, including the K-9 Unit, Mounted Unit and the Tactical Narcotics Team, to curb costs.
The chief also has been
battling with the police union over how officers are appointed to the Neighborhood Enforcement Team, known as NET, a specialized
unit that targets crime in specific locations. The union has insisted the appointments must be made based on seniority while
Norwood has wanted the flexibility to hand-pick NET members.
According to a story on the Richmond Times Dispatch Web
site, Norwood is to take over a department with 759 officers, 167 civilian employees and an annual budget of $79 million.
The Bridgeport Police Department has about 440 officers and an annual budget of about $43 million.
Norwood was the city’s
youngest-ever police chief when he took over the Park City department at age 39 in 2006. A Bridgeport native, Norwood became
chief in Bridgeport after he served as an assistant chief in New Haven and also spent a year on assignment with the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration. His father, Al Norwood, was a longtime Bridgeport school administrator and now is retired and
lives in Virginia.
Finch said a nationwide search for a new chief would begin immediately. “We would hope to have
a new chief in place in several months," he said.
In the meantime, an acting chief will be named to oversee the
department. A special meeting of the Police Commission will take place Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. in the Mayor’s City Hall Annex
Conference Room to introduce the new acting chief to the commission.
Norwood leaves as Bpt Cop chief(Connecticut Post 10/08/08)
Norwood leaves as Bridgeport cop chief
Last Updated: 10/08/2008 10:38:37 PM EDT
BRIDGEPORT -- Bryan T. Norwood, the city's embattled police chief,
resigned suddenly after only 2 1/2 years on the job to become chief in Richmond, Va.
Norwood, the target of a no-confidence
vote by the local police union this summer, accepted the Richmond job Wednesday after promising Mayor Bill Finch that he would
not make a final decision until Friday.
He currently is paid $102,793 under a five-year contract he signed with the
city in April 2006, while the range for the Richmond job is expected to be $109,000 to $165,000.
Finch said he didn't
learn that Norwood, who was in Richmond for the announcement Wednesday, had taken the chief's job there until he saw the
Norwood could not be reached for comment.
No one has yet been named to temporarily fill Norwood's
post, although Capt. Lynn Kerwin, the head of the department's Detective Bureau, is considered a frontrunner. A permanent
chief can be appointed only by the process set forth in the City Charter, which includes a nationwide search and Civil Service
tests. The mayor makes the final selection.
"Chief Norwood had delivered a letter to me around 10 a.m. yesterday,"
Finch said. "It was a formal letter of resignation, and I called him back. I said, 'Are you sure you want to do this?'
I told him I know there are some problems here, but that Richmond is not the ideal city either. It has its problems. It was
his feeling it was a great opportunity -- bigger city, more
money and it was closer to his mother and father who live in Virginia."
said Norwood agreed to give him until Friday to make a counter offer. "But I guess they wouldn't let him out of Richmond
without signing," the mayor added.
But, Finch added, "It's an opportunity to use this vacancy to help
the morale in the department that has suffered lately."
He acknowledged that Kerwin would be a top contender to
be interim chief, but he wouldn't rule out the four deputy police chiefs, including James Honis and Adam Radzmirski, who
are slated to be laid off at the end of the month as a cost-cutting measure.
"Layoffs can be made, layoffs can
be rescinded," the mayor said, explaining that changes can be made for the good of the city. "Our first priority
is public safety," he added.
Finch said he would also not rule out appointing Deputy Chief Anthony Armeno to temporarily
head the department. Armeno was temporary chief in the months before Norwood was named chief here despite protests from women's
groups after the Connecticut Post disclosed Armeno had previously been accused of hitting a female officer and dislocating
However, Armeno scored too low on the promotional examination to be considered for permanent appointment
"It would be improper to say anyone is more or less in the running," Finch said. "We have a
good bench of substitute players."
He said a temporary replacement for Norwood, whose last day is officially Oct.
31, would likely be named by the end of the week.
City Council member Andre Baker, D-139, a member of the council's
Public Safety Committee, said he was not surprised by Norwood's resignation.
"You don't need to be a rocket
scientist to know this was going to happen. I've talked to him many times and you could hear the discouragement in his
voice. He just wanted to get the support he needed," Baker said. "I'm just so scared of the direction we are
now going to move in."
Officer Frank Cuccaro, president of the Local 1159, the police union, said, "The department
as a whole is looking to move forward and I'd like to say I would hope that the city administration would take into consideration
hiring from within for the next chief."
"It's not a total shock," said Daniel Roach, a member of
the Board of Police Commissioners. He said he had heard Norwood had been testing for other jobs. "I wish him all the
However, he added, any sudden resignation by the department's leader "always comes as a surprise."
leaves a department mired in controversy, with orders from Finch to slash overtime, and beset by criticism from the rank-and-file
for assigning officers to the Neighborhood Enforcement Team and for disbanding other special-duty units. About half of the
union's membership in August approved a motion of "no confidence" in Norwood.
Because of the city's
budget crisis, Finch has also laid off 15 police officers, effective at the end of the month.
"We're in perfect
storm,'' Norwood said of disruptions at the Police Department in an August interview. "We're in a fiscal
crisis. We're in a transition from federal oversight. We're in contract negotiations. We're half-way through the
contract of a chief who has a different management style.''
Norwood, who grew up in Bridgeport, became the city's
youngest chief at 39 years old when he was hired for a five-year contract. His father, Alexander, is a former associate superintendent
of schools in Bridgeport. He later moved with his family to Monroe and graduated from Masuk High School.
chief of New Haven police at the time he was hired for the Bridgeport job, Norwood was chosen by then-Mayor John M. Fabrizi
for the job from among three finalists.
In Richmond, according to the Web site of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Norwood
will administer a department much larger than Bridgeport's. The capital city of Virginia has a force of about 760 sworn
officers and 170 civilian employees with an annual budget of $79 million. Bridgeport has 432 officers and a budget of about
Staff writer Aaron Leo contributed to this report
Police protest Finch layoffs
Last Updated: 10/07/2008 12:27:18 AM EDT
Click photo to enlarge
A large group of Bridgeport police officers walk
out en... (Brian A. Pounds/Staff photographer )
BRIDGEPORT -- As police officers protested layoffs in the department,
Mayor Bill Finch on Monday used his State of the City address to issue a gloomy assessment of the city's finances and
warn that everyone must "do more with less."
"Last December, when I took office, the city was like a
runaway bus on a bumpy road. Today, we've got control of the bus, but the road remains very bumpy," Finch declared.
of the decisions we must make will, no doubt be difficult, unpleasant, and at times, unpopular," Finch said during his
speech before the City Council.
As the mayor spoke, more than 100 off-duty city police officers ringed the council chambers,
standing in mostly silent protest against the 15 police officers -- 10 higher ranked officers and five park policemen -- whom
Finch recently laid off.
The group of police officers said little during the mayor's speech, although several did
shout out, "Why lay us off."
Finch wasted little time reminding council members and the general public that
when he took office, the city faced a nearly $20 million deficit. He said his administration was forced to drain the city's
fund balance to close the gap.
That fund balance, or reserve account, stands at a mere $9 million out the current $492
million budget, far less than credit agencies want to see. The city is now running a roughly $6 million deficit, and Finch
stressed that he is taking many cost-cutting steps to rein that in.
"To get us
from where we are to where we want our city to be, our guiding philosophy must be
to do more with less," Finch said.
Before police marched to the council meeting, officers organized outside
City Hall. Frank Cuccaro, the police union president, said it's unfair Finch targeted the department's highest-paid
officers, and said the move violates civil service laws.
"This will cost thousands of dollars more in lawsuits
in court," Cuccaro said, signaling the union's intention to fight the Finch administration.
In all, 31 city
employees were notified two weeks ago that their jobs were being cut. As the 2008-09 budget was put together during the spring,
Finch sent out 110 layoff notices, although some of those job losses were restored by the City Council.
Finch said the
national economic downturn has caused turmoil in the city's budget as tax revenues dropped and expenses rose. He blamed
most of the layoffs on a poor national economy, the rash of home foreclosures and the deficit he inherited from former Mayor
"When I took over this office a little less than a year ago, I realized we had been misinformed and
misled about the financial situation. We were not in as good shape as we were led to believe, and therefore, I was forced
to make hard choices immediately to address a nearly $20 million deficit that I had unexpectedly inherited," Finch said.
half of that deficit, the mayor said, was caused by reliance on revenue that did not come in as projected, such as $4.5 million
from the sale of Steel Point to the city's chosen developers, who hope to one day create a $1.5 billion community of shops,
condominiums and other features on the waterfront peninsula.
The mayor didn't mention that his 2008-09 budget contains
the same Steel Point revenue, and inclusion of that money is now fueling a new deficit.
And while the mayor didn't
specifically address the cops who protested during his speech, he did point out that the city is hiring 35 new firefighters
and 50 new police officers.
Still, Finch said the news is "not all gloomy," and cited his efforts to restrain
spending and collect back taxes. He touted several economic development projects now under way, such as building more downtown
Police brass among Bpt. layoffs
Last Updated: 09/22/2008 05:59:06 PM EDT
-- Mayor Bill Finch said Monday that 31 employees, including 10 ranking police supervisors, will be laid off to help stem
a growing budget deficit.
The layoffs will begin within 30 days and are expected to save the city about $1.9 million.
The list of employees to be laid off includes 10 police administrators, 20 City Hall workers and one Health Department employee.
City officials initially announced that 15 police administrators would be laid off, but later in the day corrected the number
"I'm not happy about this and I do it with a heavy heart," Finch said. "But this is a serious
time. We have to do more with less."
Finch said police layoffs -- the Fire Department will not lose any employees
-- do not include rank-and-file officers who patrol city streets. "We have done our level best to make sure this does
not impact public safety."
City Council member Robert Curwen, D-138, the co-chairman of the council's Budget
and Appropriations Committee, said he supports the work force reductions. "He's doing the right thing."
Curwen said Finch had promised to include council leaders like himself in discussions over who to layoff and apparently didn't.
"This is all news to me. I don't know what to say. There is no communication," he said.
Cuccaro, the president of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159, said, "We're very upset at the current chain of
Bridgeport is not the only large city in
Connecticut laying off workers. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano last week laid off
35 city workers and Hartford's 2008-09 budget calls for 119 layoffs. Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez has hinted that more layoffs
may be needed to reduce a growing budget deficit.
Earlier this year, Finch announced plans to lay off 110
workers, although some of those jobs were restored when the 2008-09 budget was adopted. Still, as a result of that round of
layoffs, the city now employs 70 fewer people than when Finch first took office, and there are 18 unfilled positions.
2,000 people work on the city side of government, and about 2,700 work for the Board of Education.
This year's $492
million municipal budget already is running a deficit of at least $6 million, mostly caused by the likely loss of $4.5 million
in anticipated revenue from the sale of Steel Point to developers, a transaction that is not likely this year, and $1.5 million
in union concessions called for by Finch, which have not come through.
The city's 2007-08 budget ended the fiscal
year with a $20 million deficit, which was mostly covered using reserve funds. The fund balance in the budget now stands at
a mere $9 million.
A financial report recently issued to the City Council indicates there was a $1 million deficit in
July, the first month of the 2008-09 fiscal year. Those figures do not include the likely $6 million shortfall, so the current
deficit probably more like $7 million.
The names of those targeted for layoff were withheld Monday as officials try
to notify each employee. The Finch administration promised to release the names as soon as everyone has been told their fate.
mayor said the tide of red ink is caused in part by home foreclosures sweeping the nation and the city, where 5,200 subprime
loans had been issued. The mayor said revenues from home sales and real estate levies are down, as well as fees for a variety
At the same time, municipal expenses, particularly for energy and health care, are rising, Finch said.
mayor said a combination of 20 percent spending reductions in all departments, a hiring freeze, employee furloughs and layoffs
is expected to save about $3.5 million this fiscal year.
"We are holding the line on spending across all departments,"
the mayor said.
Other measures designed to save money include a future audit of the city's health insurance plan
with the goal of eliminating employees and their families no longer eligible to be part of the plan. The city's Bootfinder
program, which identifies motor vehicles on which taxes are owed, will target tax delinquents more aggressively.
police layoffs target some of the department's highest-paid administrators, a group that collectively receives the largest
amount of overtime each year.
The Police Department last year spent $8.8 million in overtime, $1.3 million more than
budgeted. Asked why top police administrators account for a disproportionate share of the department's overtime, Finch
said, "I never got a satisfactory response to that question."
At the mayor's behest, the department is
creating a non-union, assistant chief position. That official, once hired, will handle overtime assignments and other administrative
The mayor renewed his call for city employees to work a week without pay, saying about 50 non-union employees
have already signed up, saving about $100,000. Union members have so far refused to participate in the furlough.
Cops, supervisors disagree on morale
Updated: 09/21/2008 11:00:20 PM EDT
-- Contract negotiations between the city and the police union have resumed, and Mayor Bill Finch has personally visited officers
during roll call to the calm their fears as the city struggles to close a budget gap and refill its coffers.
efforts and new round of talks are bringing morale up, said two deputy police chiefs, but one member of the union's executive
"Morale is in the dumper," said Officer Kenneth McKenna, the executive board member of the
Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159. "Guys leave their homes at 3:30 and count the minutes until midnight."
poor is the best way to describe it," he said.
McKenna's comments followed a statement by Sgt. John Whalen,
also a union official, that the city's return to the negotiating table is a positive.
"Things are at least
moving forward," Whalen said. The next negotiation meeting is scheduled for Friday.
The assessments of morale came
at Tuesday's meeting of the city's Board of Police Commissioners, where officers updated the board on the status of
negotiations. The past contract expired on June 30 and the city initially offered no raises in addition to asking for givebacks
from all unions.
Finch also ordered department overtime cut in half.
A combination of disagreements between the
union and the mayor, as well as Chief Bryan T. Norwood, led to about half of the union members to approve a motion of no confidence
the two officials in August. Later in the month, some union members and officers from
neighboring departments also picketed at a golf tournament hosted by the city and the Connecticut Post.
Chief Adam Radzimirski, who supervises plainclothes officers, mainly narcotics officers and detectives, said he overheard
two officers recently discussing an arrest they made.
"Their hearts are still in the right place," he said.
Chief James Honis, who supervises uniformed officers, said Finch has been talking "one on one" with officers at
roll call, where they start their shifts.
Board Vice President David Hall said the panel was drafting a laudatory letter
But it's not the lack of a contract that has the rank-and-file down, McKenna said, speaking for himself,
rather than the union.
The recent removal of long-standing court order, resulting in Norwood getting more disciplinary
power, and a related issue of the chief's hand-picked Neighborhood Enforcement Team are depressing morale, according to
In June, a state labor arbitrator ruled against the chief's selection process of the team, but the city
is appealing that order with the mayor's backing.
The arbitrator ruled the chief violated the expired contract's
seniority-based selection clause. The team performs enforcement, stings and investigations, rather than going from call to
call as patrol officers do.
"The NET issue really tears most of the guys up," McKenna said.
City to name assistant police chief
Article Last Updated: 09/02/2008 12:24:54 AM EDT
— The city is re-establishing the job of assistant police chief, an administrator whose goal will be to help cut the
huge overtime piled up by the department.
"This person is going to be critical to the chief in reining in an out-of-control
police overtime budget," Mayor Bill Finch said of the non-union post.
The Police Department overspent its overtime
budget by $1.3 million in the last fiscal year, and is poised to burn through its reduced $4.5 million overtime budget for
2008-09 in six or seven months, Finch said. He has ordered Chief Bryan T. Norwood to halve overtime spending.
chief job would be salaried, not subject to overtime and would likely be filled from within the department's ranks, according
to the mayor.
The position doesn't violate the city's contract with the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159,
said Officer Frank Cuccaro, union president. The pact expired on June 30.
The job was approved in 2002 by the city's
Civil Service Commission, and again last month, said Ralph Jacobs, the city's personnel director.
needed someone who is not affiliated with the union, a direct assistant," Jacobs said.
The chief is now the only
member of the department who doesn't belong to the union.
The new job would add to the number of supervisors in
the department. There are four deputy chiefs, the next-highest rank, who are paid annual salaries of $85,803 to $94,425.
of those chiefs, Joseph Gaudett Jr. and James
Honis, were among the top 10 overtime earners last year, which angered Finch.
said that he isn't opposed to patrol officers being paid overtime, but doesn't think supervisors should. Also on that
overtime list were lieutenants and sergeants.
Cutting overtime is actually the deputy chiefs' jobs, and Norwood
should be preventing them from earning overtime, Cuccaro said.
"That's the chief's job, to rein in his
people," the union president said.
But Cuccaro also suggested dismantling the Neighborhood Enforcement Team —
a point in contention between the union and the chief, who says he has the right to assign officers of his choosing to the
unit — to bolster patrol and reduce overtime. That would return about a dozen officers and a sergeant to regular duty.
Norwood handpicked the members of the team, which takes on a range of quality-of-life crime issues rather than handling
daily calls. That subjective selection process violated the union contract's seniority clause, a state arbitrator has
ruled. The city is appealing that in court, and the squad remains in service.
Finch also said he wants to restructure
the Police Department by removing more supervisors from the union and changing seniority-based selection for squads to right
of assignment by the chief.
The current setup isn't good for running a "fiscally prudent police department,"
Norwood has already disbanded the Traffic Division, which had 12 officers, and other units may also be closed,
with the officers being re-assigned to patrol duties. The union has identified the Mounted and K-9 units and the Tactical
Narcotics Team as possible targets for future cuts.
The assistant chief's position must now be reviewed by the
Miscellaneous Matters Committee of the City Council.
"The concept of the job is as far as it's gone,"
The last assistant chief in the department was Karen Krasicky, who retired in 2005 to lead the Plymouth
Police Department. The assistant chief before her was the late Robert Mangano.
Bridgeport cop board chair calling it
Article Last Updated: 08/25/2008 12:06:45 AM EDT
— After more than two decades as an elections moderator for the city and four years as chairman of the Board of Police
Commissioners, Thomas L. Kanasky had enough.
The mudslinging and partisan bickering all too common to Bridgeport politics
had taken a toll on Kanasky, 61, and he walked away from civic service, convinced it just wasn't worth the aggravation.
"I'm not lending my credibility to the city ever again," Kanasky said one recent afternoon, sitting in
his downtown law office on Fairfield Avenue. Still, he added, "I'm very satisfied with my four years on the [police]
With his term on the board set to expire and a replacement nominated, Kanasky resigned his chairmanship
in June — around the same time he stepped down as head moderator amid lingering allegations of election fraud in the
Democratic mayoral primary.
For some of Kanasky's colleagues, his exit from the political scene was a big loss
for the city.
He has "an impeccable reputation," said Santa Ayala, the city's Democratic registrar of
voters. "I think it's a great loss. You have an honest, capable individual."
David Hall, vice president
of the police board, also praised his former colleague and vowed to continue his reform efforts aimed at giving the board
more control over disciplinary cases.
In his resignation letter to the board, Kanasky accused the department's
leadership and the city of ignoring the history of minority officers' federal discrimination
lawsuits against the department and the resulting remedy orders.
A Democrat since he first
registered to vote at 18, Kanasky said he's always been independent in judgment and the city knew that before then-Mayor
John M. Fabrizi appointed him to the board. He turned Republican in 2006 because, he says, the Democrats had gone too far
left for him.
"I got tired of Democratic politics, not just in the city," he said. "The Democratic Party
just doesn't want conservative people. I always felt they needed a conservative lean."
Finch, who defeated
state Rep. Chris Caruso, D-Bridgeport, in last year's contested primary, said he's known and respected Kanasky for
years, and credited him for his board service. But Finch said he sought a police board that would support Police Chief Bryan
T. Norwood and wanted "a fresh set of eyes on the Police Department."
Kanasky took exception to the mayor's
use of the word "support." "There's a difference between supporting and obeying," he said. "Somebody's
got to point out to me where I didn't support the chief."
His comments appeared to be a veiled reference to
the case of Officer Douglas Bepko, who was fired by the board last year after a domestic violence incident. Norwood had wanted
Bepko fired immediately, but the board held hearings and fired him several months later. Norwood, displeased, stopped talking
to the board for several months, but eventually reconciled. The chief has said he looks forward to working with the board
— which has several new members — but hasn't commented directly on the former chairman.
with Kanasky on the Bepko issue, saying it also illustrates Kanasky's independent stance. The board acts as a liaison
between the public and the department, but is independent of both.
Firing Bepko too quickly would have been a mistake,
Hall said. "As an attorney, he knows the consequence of that action," he said.
Kanasky said he was also frustrated
by lack of communication with the mayor, which hurt his efforts to get department policy enforced. The silence, he added,
has continued to this day.
"The mayor and I have never talked about the police commission or anything," the
former chairman said.
For example, he said, he tried to get the city and the department to adhere to the proper procedure
for appointing officers to the Office of Internal Affairs. He was also trying to get the board to hear more discipline cases,
because some serious ones were handled quietly in-house by Norwood, he said.
"The department is still pick and
choose" in terms of discipline, Kanasky said. "I thought there should have been referrals to the board. There are
cases we knew about that we thought should have been referred to the board."
The last straw for Kanasky, however,
was the Democratic primary. After Caruso lost, he accused Kanasky of not being certified to run elections because of inadequate
training on the electronic voting machines.
But now, Kanasky said, he doesn't have to worry about that.
appears to have plenty to keep him busy, judging by the full boxes stacked in his law office and the filing cabinets against
the wall. He's been practicing since 1980.
That career and his efforts to get a monument built for Bridgeport's
World War II veterans, living and dead, are the only things on his mind these days. Kanasky, is a Vietnam veteran and a retired
colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
"I want to get this monument built and maybe retire from public life,"
Cop units cut to save on OT
Article Last Updated: 08/24/2008 12:17:31 AM EDT
— Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood has disbanded the department's 12-officer Traffic Division and other specialized
squads, including the K-9 Unit, Mounted Unit and the Tactical Narcotics Team, may be next on the chopping blcok.
is my understanding that other specialized units are going to be disbanded this week," said Officer Frank Cuccaro, the
president of the local police union.
Norwood on Friday said the changes are designed "to maximize the resources
in patrol in order to minimize overtime expenditures. I'm trying to look at any way to reduce overtime."
Bill Finch recently ordered Norwood to cut his department's overtime in half after its overtime exceeded the amount budgeted
last year by $1.3 million.
Cuccaro had a different view of why the units are being disbanded.
"I feel this
is classic union busting," he said. "I feel the disbanding of these units has largely to do with recent events sponsored
by the union." He was referring to the union's Aug. 15 protest targeting Finch and Norwood at the Mayor's Cup
charity golf tournament, as well as union members' 187-27 vote in favor of a no-confidence motion in the chief. The union's
contract expired June 30, and the city has offered no raises while requesting furloughs and givebacks in the stalled negotiations
on a new pact.
Cuccaro said the chief can disband a specialized unit, but must restore its original membership if he
puts it back together, under the contract.
its duties, the Traffic Division investigated hit-and-run crashes and serious accidents,
and conducted speed-enforcement operations.
"They put out an abundant amount of parking tags, which generates revenue
for the city, Cuccaro said.
Police and city officials were hesitant to comment on the turn of events, but said public
safety is a high priority.
City Councilwoman Michelle Lyons, D-134, the co-chairwoman of the council's Public Safety
and Transportation Committee, wants to speak to the chief about the changes.
"I want to see what the final outcome
is on this," she said. "The chief made this decision. I want to find out why he made this decision."
first brought up the Traffic Division issue at last week's meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners, prompting Vice
President David Hall to express concern.
"We don't want to manage the department, but we want to have a clear
understanding of what's going on," Hall said Friday.
He added that he doubts the chief would make cuts "just
to get back at somebody."
The chief must be working with somebody, such as the mayor, in making such changes,
"Every one of them will be missed," he said of the affected units.
Another concern is what
would happen to the police dogs and horses, which are trained and cared for by the city, if those units are disbanded.
Teed-off cops picket mayor's golf
Article Last Updated: 08/16/2008 12:29:32 AM EDT
BRIDGEPORT — Police officers picketed the "Mayor's Cup"
charity golf tournament Friday to call attention to their contract dispute with Mayor Bill Finch.
About 75 officers, some
from as far away as New London, demonstrated in a circle at the Park Avenue entrance to Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course as Finch
arrived for the event. They later marched past the clubhouse as the tourney got under way.
Some held signs with slogans
including, "Grinch: Leave Our Contract Alone" and "Finch is a Zero." Officers said Finch is unfairly demanding
officers accept no raises for two years, work one week for free and cut overtime in half as a way to help close a looming
gap in the new fiscal year's budget.
"We are just showing our disdain for the city administration," said
Frank Cuccaro, president of Local 1159, which represents the city's patrol officers. Union members recently approved a
motion of no confidence in Finch and Chief Bryan Norwood.
"The administration is failing to negotiate in good
faith. They want us to work for free for a week and they walked away from the table," Cuccaro said.
the city safe and expect fair wages."
For his part, Finch took the protest in stride, arriving at the golf tournament
via the Stratfield Road entrance in Fairfield, where none of the police pickets were stationed.
of the job," Finch said as he walked toward the clubhouse to check in for the charity event, which was sponsored by the
Connecticut Post and the city.
The proceeds benefit the Newspaper in Education program, which uses newspapers to
encourage children to read.
The police union donated $400 to the cause.
Finch defended his contract demands, which
he said includes cutting police overtime in half, from more than $8 million last year to about $4.5 million this year.
city is in a financial crisis and we have to make cuts. There are measures we have to take to keep the city financially sound,"
Meanwhile, police working the picket line were clearly unhappy with the mayor.
Officer Todd Sherbud
marched with a sign proclaiming, "I should have voted for Caruso," referring to Finch's opponent, state Rep.
Christopher Caruso, in the Democratic primary for mayor last fall.
Asked if he really voted for Finch, Sherbud said
he did, but would not again, "if I knew what I know now."
James Howell, who represents the statewide police
union, said Bridgeport is the only community offering no pay raises to its police officers.
"These guys put their
lives on the line every day. They are just looking for a fair and decent wage. They are on the lowest-paid department,"
Cuccaro acknowledged negotiations between the union and the city are at an impasse and said the deadlocked
talks will likely have to be resolved in arbitration, where officers are likely to win some type of a raise.
are looking for what we deserve. We want at least 3 percent," Cuccaro said.
Norwood arrived at the golf course
with Finch. Both planned to play in the tournament, even though neither are avid golfers. Finch, in fact, said he had never
played a round before.
The chief said the Police Department could reach Finch's goal of cutting overtime in half
and still keep an adequate deployment of officers on the street. "The mayor said there are cuts that must be made. We
will keep enough officers on the street to maintain public safety."
The union contends reducing overtime will
make it impossible to maintain the current staffing level of 21 officers per shift.
"The mayor wants to lower
it by 60 percent. That will kill public safety," Cuccaro said.
Police overtime has drawn attention lately, partly
because the department exceeded its budgeted overtime by $1.3 million last year. Bridgeport pays the most overtime of the
state's largest cities, and the issue has sparked controversy because high-ranking officers are paid a large share of
Finch said the practice of high-ranking officers being paid a disproportionate share of overtime will
stop. He said savings from ending that practice will help the department cut overall overtime and maintain a sufficient number
of officers on the street.
Norwood: 'Perfect storm' plagues police
Updated: 08/13/2008 10:40:40 PM EDT
— The Police Department has been caught in a "perfect storm" of fiscal, management and legal problems, but
the department must, and will, continue to protect and serve, Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood said Wednesday.
comments came after nearly half of the members of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159 voted "no confidence" in
him and Mayor Bill Finch on Monday.
Norwood, speaking in his Congress Street office Wednesday afternoon, said he understands
the union's frustration, but he's operating on a city order to cut spending across the board.
in perfect storm," he said. "We're in a fiscal crisis. We're in a transition from federal oversight. We're
in contract negotiations. We're halfway through the contract of a chief who has a different management style."
style is the basis of one union grievance over staffing of the Neighborhood Enforcement Team, a group of about a dozen officers
chosen and commanded by Norwood to handle quality-of-life issues.
In June, however, the union won a court order for
NET members to be chosen by seniority, as are other squads such as the patrol, K-9 and communications divisions and the Tactical
Narcotics Team. The city is appealing that order.
But having seniority and being qualified "may not be synonymous,"
Norwood said. In the New Haven Police Department, where Norwood last worked, the chief has the right of assignment.
is a $43 million business," he said of the department's operations.
"At some point you have to let the president or CEO run the
He does appreciate the officers, crediting them with a reduction in crime.
"You have some of
the best police officers here in the city. They provide a service like no other: NET, the Mounted Unit, K-9, the Emergency
Services Unit, Harbor Patrol. We have the [all-terrain vehicles]. All those add up," Norwood said.
is down. Our shootings are down significantly," he added.
Keeping up the number of officers is the problem. Under
his watch, the city is training its third class of officers in two years. But it's not keeping pace with officers leaving.
"We've lost a total of 58 officers in 24 months," with 48 new hires at the same time, he said.
the 48, 19 are training in the Police Academy and could start field training in the community in October if they all pass.
On top of that, Norwood said, he's cutting spending on programs, details and training that lead to overtime, on orders
by the city Office of Policy and Management to trim overtime by 50 percent. The department logged $1.3 million over its overtime
budget in the past fiscal year.
Still, the combination of problems doesn't relieve officers of their duty, Norwood
said. He and all of the 442 sworn officers took the same oath to protect and serve.
"That's what I expect
the union members to continue to do in light of these difficult circumstances," he said.
Times are tough compared
to when Norwood, the youngest chief in city's history, was appointed in 2006. The department didn't have much technology
but quickly acquired new cruisers, Segways and a mobile command unit, among other things.
But Norwood said he knew
the city's shaky financial history when he signed on. "At some level, we're always prepared for fiscal difficulties,"
In the end, the answers really lie between the city and the union. Seniority is one issue, among a host of
them: increasing health-care premiums, a lack of raises, furloughs and the city requesting union concessions. The city is
trying to reap savings to replenish its fund balance, which is used in rating the city's credit.
hope that the city and the union could come to some agreement in an expedited manner. The city deserves the best protection
I can provide and we can provide," Norwood said.
Cops vote 'no confidence' in
Article Last Updated: 08/13/2008 12:52:18 AM EDT
— Nearly half the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159 has voted "no confidence" in Chief Bryan T. Norwood and
Mayor Bill Finch.
The ballots, tallied Monday night, show 187 police officers voted no confidence in the administration
while 27 voted against the no-confidence motion. Ballots were mailed to the union members two weeks ago.
The vote is
symbolic and has no practical impact on the chief, who is chosen by the mayor. Norwood was sworn in April 2006, and has a
But the vote indicates deep discontent with the ranks of city police, said Officer Frank Cuccaro,
the union president.
"It shows that the Police Department as a whole doesn't support the actions of the chief
or the mayor regarding the contract and the way the mayor's trying to change the workings of the department," Cuccaro
The chief declined Tuesday to make immediate comments on the no-confidence vote, but indicated he would discuss
his views today.
The police union of 442 sworn officers has been working without a contract since June 30, and the
cash-strapped city hasn't offered raises, in addition to demanding givebacks from all municipal unions.
vote follows criticism by Finch last week that the Police Department exceeded its inside overtime budget by $1.3 million in
the 2007-08 fiscal year, contributing to a $19 million deficit in the overall budget last year.
Finch also criticized
the ballooning overtime because some of the top
earners are deputy chiefs and other police supervisors. Police of all ranks can be members of
the union, except the chief.
Finch wants overtime reined in, but Cuccaro said less overtime would jeopardize public safety
by leaving shifts with fewer officers.
On average, 21 officers per shift provide coverage for the city's three
patrol sectors, a deployment that can rise as high as 30 officers per shift, he said.
"It's going to hurt
the response time," Cuccaro said. He added that officers earn the city $10 an hour for overtime road jobs, bringing the
city $1 million in compensations from contractors.
Finch said he would "do what's in the best interest of
the citizens of Bridgeport and public safety."
"I will not play politics with public safety," the mayor
He also supports Norwood, who has added 46 officers to the department and expanded its crime-fighting technology.
"I have great confidence in Bryan Norwood. One has to look no further than how Bridgeport compares with other
major cities in our state to see how successful Chief Norwood has been," Finch said.
The last vote of no confidence
in a city police chief was taken in 2004 against Norwood's predecessor, Wilbur Chapman, which failed.
Cuccaro has pledged the union will picket Finch and Norwood at the first Mayor's Cup Golf Tournament, co-sponsored by
the Connecticut Post, on Friday at the Fairchild Wheeler Golf Club. He has invited members of other municipal unions with
complaints against the administration to join the demonstration.
Police to protest at Mayor's Cup
Article Last Updated: 08/10/2008 01:16:43 AM EDT
— City police officers plan to hit the Fairchild Wheeler Golf Club for the first-Mayor's Cup tourney on Friday,
but they won't be bringing their golf bags.
Instead, they'll be carrying signs protesting the lack of a union contract
and other issues, said Officer Frank Cuccaro, president of the Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159. The union's contract
with the city expired June 30.
"We would like to invite members from all unions in general that are in the same
predicament we are," Cuccaro said. The rally in support of the unions is slated to begin at 10 a.m.
Finch has asked for union members to give back one week of vacation and has threatened layoffs otherwise, saying the concessions
are necessary in a tight budget year with a multi-million dollar deficit looming for the city budget.
Finch said he
doubts the officers would follow through with their threat of a protest. "I don't believe that they'll be picketing
a charity," he said. The tournament, co-sponsored by the Connecticut Post, benefits the Newspapers in Education program
and local charities.
The city recently hired Ryan & Ryan of New Haven, which specializes in labor law, to assist
with negotiations on contracts with the eight municipal unions and to squeeze at least $1.5 million in savings from workers.
Cuccaro said two major problems between the police union and the city are how personnel assignments are made to the
Neighborhood Enforcement Team issue and "the way contract
negotiations are going."
According to the union's Web site,
the city has declared an impasse in negotiations after offering no raises. In addition, the city has asked for concessions
on medical benefits for active members and retirees, sick and overtime benefits, further "civilianization" of jobs,
and to give the chief the right of assignment to all police units, the site says. A new dispatch center slated to open next
year will be staffed entirely bycivilians.
The right of assignment relates to Neighborhood Enforcement Team, a group
of about a dozen officers chosen and commanded by Norwood for a variety of tasks, from gang investigations to quality-of-life
issues such as drugs, loitering and under-age drinking. The unit does not respond from call to call, as the Patrol Division
In June, however, the union won a court order for NET members to be chosen by seniority as are other assignments.
The chief is appealing that.
Cuccaro said seniority is important to the contract. All other teams are chosen by seniority.
"He wants the right to assign everyone in the department. He's basically trying to do away with seniority,"
the union president said.
Regarding salary increase proposals, Finch said, "We're not sure if we can afford
"I can't even guarantee we'll avoid layoffs," he added.
measure is furloughs, which Finch has said could shave $3 million. He's asking the city's other roughly 4,700 employees
to agree to take week-long furloughs, including those he does not directly manage, such as teachers and workers at the Bridgeport
Port Authority and the Water Pollution Control Authority.
Cuccaro opposes that move.
for him to ask for that," he said. "If the police took a week furlough, it would cost the city in overtime."
Money would be better spent dropping the Neighborhood Enforcement Team appeal and reducing the number of city take-home
cars, he said.
Finch urged the unions to resume negotiations as they did in 1992 when the city last faced tough economic
Court to end oversight of police
Article Last Updated: 08/06/2008
10:27:13 PM EDT
HAVEN — The power to administer, assign and discipline his officers will be returning to Bridgeport's police chief
for the first time in 25 years this fall.
"I've expressed the view on many occasions that there is a time to conclude
court jurisdiction of a governing entity," U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton said during a nearly four-hour-long
So after tweaking a proposed order and agreeing to oversee a 17-month implementation, Arterton indicated that
the 25-year control the federal court and its special master, William Clendenen, have exerted over the way the department
has handled its black officers may soon be over.
The judge said the way the city implements and handles the changes
will "put the court in a position to make a decision that the remedy order be vacated, needs modification or be left
That will happen during a December 2009 hearing.
On Tuesday, lawyers for the city and the Bridgeport
Guardians, an organization representing black officers, formalized a proposed order that could bring an end to the 25-year-old
case. Following a weeklong trial a quarter century ago, the late U.S. District Judge T.F. Gilroy Daly found widespread racial
discrimination within the Bridgeport police department. The judge's finding was based on the fact that of the 33 black
officers in the department in 1982, all but one was assigned to patrol the most crime-ridden areas of the city. The other
was assigned to the record room. None had
The proposed order, which could end the case "is an opportunity
for the city to get its act together," said Ted Meekins, a retired black police officer and a plaintiff in the original
proceedings. "The union has the opportunity to make things happen or hold up the process. All the Guardians have wanted
for the past 30 years is a more level playing field."
The union, represented by Harry Elliott, voiced some concerns
over the proposed order during Wednesday's hearing.
On Wednesday, Arterton learned the city now has 68 black officers,
which constitutes 16.27 percent of its 418-member police department in a city where a third of its residents are black. The
department also has 113 Hispanic officers and 52 female officers.
Broken down further, the department has a black chief.
None of the four deputy chiefs are black. It has two black captains out of nine and two black lieutenants out of 21. It has
10 black sergeants out of 65 and five black detectives out of 41.
Arterton said the nearly doubling of black officers
shows "progress," but the department's record in promoting blacks "is at best mixed — not what one
might hope would be the result of 25 years of court intervention."
After hearing opposition from Elliott, the
union's lawyer, to some aspects of the proposed order, Arterton called a brief recess. During the break, Antonio Ponvert,
the Guardians' lawyer; City Attorney Mark Anastasi; Deputy City Attorney Arthur Laske III and William Wenzel, a private
lawyer hired by the city, huddled and agreed to some changes. Arterton asked that a final version be submitted to her by Aug.
20. She indicated an intention to put the proposal in place by the second week of September.
"This is tremendous
news for the city of Bridgeport," said Mayor Bill Finch. "The impact of this will be that we will be able to control
our own police department — a move that will help us fight crime more effectively while simultaneously saving the money
the city has been paying the special master since 1983."
It is believed that Clendenen received tens of thousands
of dollars for conducting several hundred proceedings over the past quarter century.
Earlier Elliott expressed concern
that the city would use some of the leverage it gained in assignments to diminish the union's bargaining tactics.
it now stands the proposed order will allow:
l Bridgeport to suspend the use of hiring recruits in the order they place
on the hiring list.
l The city will allocate $300,000 in increments of $50,000 over six years beginning in 2010 to
help recruit minority candidates.
l The lawfirm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, which represented the Guardians since
the suit was filed in 1978, will forego more than $1 million in legal fees and court costs. Instead they will accept payment
of $300,000 and then use that money to create and administer a program that will recruit, mentor, tutor and train black officers.
l The chief will have the authority to choose 50 percent of the officers to serve in the nearly dozen specialized units
like K-9, Scuba, Emergency Response, Tactical Narcotics Team and Marine. The other 50 percent will be chosen based on seniority
l The chief will have the authority to assign officers to geographical areas within the guidelines
of the collective bargaining agreement with the union and concerns raised by the Guardians.
l Handling complaints of
racial discrimination will be taken away from Clendenen, a New Haven lawyer appointed in 1982 to hear such matters, and given
to the chief.
l The city will write a non-discrimination policy for the police department that must be approved by
"We're trying to move forward and working with the chief to do so," said Sgt. William Bailey,
president of the Guardians. "My main concern is that 50 percent of the current number of black officers will be eligible
to retire in the next few years. We need to do a more effective job of recruiting more minority officers."
proposal stems from months of closed-door meetings between the two sides, which U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons
"Based on the proceedings today, the city is confident the court will be issuing an order that reflects
the significant progress the Bridgeport Police Department has made in recent years particularly under the leadership of Police
Chief Norwood," said City Attorney Mark Anastasi. "We look forward to the court returning full operational control
to the department in the foreseeable future."
To cover budget gap, city seeks concessions
Article Last Updated: 08/04/2008 05:04:42 AM EDT
— The city has hired a New Haven law firm to help negotiate new union contracts and squeeze at least $1.5 million in
savings from municipal workers.
Ryan and Ryan, which specializes in labor law, was hired to assist the city as it negotiates
contracts with its eight municipal unions. The law firm is being paid $175 an hour for its work.
We have all the unions
going at once and they are assisting in all negotiations," said Andrew Nunn, the city's chief administrative officer.
Ryan and Ryan has offices in New Haven and New London, and has represented more than 150 clients in the private and
public sector, according to the firm's Web page.Nunn acknowledged the $492 million city and school budget recently adopted
by the City Council includes a $1.5 million gap that city officials assume will be covered through union concessions or givebacks.
If those savings fail to materialize, there would be an immediate deficit, he said.
The city first plans to offer employees
voluntary unpaid furloughs, which essentially means vacation without pay. About 1,500 people work on the city side of government.
Adam Wood, Mayor Bill Finch's chief of staff, said he hopes a sufficient number of workers will take advantage
of the furlough program, which can be offered without union negotiations or changes in current contracts, to offset the need
for other measures, such as benefit reductions and layoffs."Everyone is going to need to sacrifice and tighten their
belts a little,"
Nunn said if nearly all city employees take an unpaid week's vacation,
the savings would be sufficient to cover the $1.5 million gap in the budget.
Wood said the request for furloughs also
applies to non-union employees, including the mayor.
"Absolutely. The mayor has made that statement. It would
apply to everyone," Wood said.
Police officer always provides extra help
Article Last Updated: 06/29/2008 12:13:20 AM EDT
photo to enlarge
Bridgeport Police Department Crime Prevention Officer...
(Tracy Deer-Mirek/Staff photographer)
BRIDGEPORT — City police officer Nick Ortiz got the Liberty Bell
Award from the Greater Bridgeport Bar Association for community service in setting up block watches as a crime prevention
officer in the Community Services Division.
But it was his extracurricular community service really caught the association's
For Ortiz, outside community service is all in a day's work. His real reward is being able to help people,
which he's done all of his life.
Ortiz mentors city students, helps with Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood's taekwondo
classes for troubled youth and flips burgers and hot dogs for the annual St. Anthony festival, held at St. Margaret's
"I'm willing to help anyone, anywhere, anytime," Ortiz, 48, a 23-year-officer, said as he took
a break from serving food at the festival at the Park Avenue shrine on June 13. The shrine used to house a statue of St. Michael
the Archangel, patron saint of police officers.
Ortiz was nominated by attorney Douglas Mahoney, who was the president
of the Greater Bridgeport Bar Association at the time. Mahoney said he was researching a nominee when he saw Ortiz's volunteer
"Officer Ortiz's name jumped to the top of the list," he said. "I was just so struck
by what he was doing."
Then he met Ortiz, whom he'd seen walking near police headquarters almost every day.
Mahoney's Lyon Terrace office faces headquarters.
"I recognized him immediately," Mahoney said.
who grew up in the
city's East Side and visited the shrine on holidays
as a child, said he's always wanted to help the community. He was inspired to become an officer after seeing a statue,
in the shrine, where a tall St. Michael the Archangel stands over a police officer.
For the St. Anthony procession that
follows the festival, he donned his uniform while off-duty and directed traffic, as he's done for the four years he has
been with the festival.
Nick Mastroianni, an organizer with the festival since it was started 30 years ago, said he
always needs people to pitch in at a moment's notice.
"The help is indescribable," he said. "It
relieves you of all the pressure. We're grateful to have a person like him."
Another festival volunteer has
also experienced Ortiz's help.
Cliff Roberts, president of the Germania Schwaben Society here, said Ortiz helped
gather bicycles for children, which were presented around the holidays last year. Roberts hopes to repeat the program.
is also trying to come up with fundraising ideas to replace the St. Michael statue, which went missing years ago.
joined the department in 1985 after graduating from Warren Harding High School. He became a DARE officer, which got him into
Today, with two years to go, he's not sure whether he'll retire.
"If I still
see I can help, maybe I'll stick around for a while," he said.
One person who would like to see him stay is
Brent DiGiorgio, spokesman for People's United Bank, headquartered downtown.
Ortiz linked DiGiorgio with the community,
such as by helping him with the bank's Heroes Honoring Heroes program, which recognizes a police officer and a youth for
helping the local community.
"He's been an enormous help to me," DiGiorgio said.
credited Ortiz's upbringing with his service ethic.
Ortiz grew up in the notorious Father Panik Village, which
had its share of violence and drugs and social problems.
"He has seen others suffer and in his life and, consequently,
always wanted to give back to his community. His heart and his head are always in the right place," DiGiorgio said.
LETTER TO THE CONNECTICUT POST PUBLISHED
Finch wants Bridgeport
to up its savings
Article Last Updated: 06/18/2008 01:24:37 AM EDT
— Mayor Bill Finch, concerned about the impact of the city budget's shrinking fund balance on its credit rating,
is implementing a new policy designed to shore up the account.
Finch on Tuesday announced the fund balance will now be
at least 8 percent of the annual budget, which this year is $492 million, requiring about $40 million for the fund.
mayor admitted reaching the goal will be difficult and could cause budget cuts similar to layoffs and spending cuts that drew
nearly 1,000 protesters to City Council meetings while the budget was being set this spring.
"The city is in a
financial crisis and this is another step we are taking. In the recent past we spent down the fund balance, and we spent it
down in good times," Finch said.
The fund balance is the city's savings account, meaning money in the budget
that is not allocated for specific use. The funds are supposed to be reserved for emergencies and unforeseen problems.
companies prefer a healthy fund balance or reserve account. If those credit firms reduce the city's bond rating, it will
cost more to borrow money, and that can affect taxes.
Under the 2008-09 budget, which begins July 1, the city will
have $15 million in the fund balance, or about 3 percent of the operating budget. That projection is a best-case estimate
that assumes Finch will secure an additional $1.5 million in savings from municipal unions as contracts are negotiated in
the coming year. By comparison,
city's fund balance in 2000 was more than $50 million.
Finch warned there would be more layoffs if unions refuse to
give back vacation time and other benefits.
Michael Lupkus, the city's deputy finance director, said the policy
should allay immediate concerns credit-rating companies are likely to have over the diminished fund balance.
policy sets a goal of placing $2.5 million a year in the fund balance. During the 2009 fiscal year, about $1 million would
be added, officials said. The City Council is now considering a resolution to make Finch's plan the city's official
City Council President Thomas McCarthy, along with council members Robert Curwen and Leticia Colon, who jointly
chair the council's Budget and Appropriations Committee, said they support the policy designed to bolster the fund balance.
"We are willing to take tough medicine. It won't be easy for citizens to take," McCarthy warned.
year's budget battle illustrated how tight city finances have become. The move to privatize the school-based health clinics,
for example, saved $1.5 million by taking dozens of nurses and other workers off the city payroll.
But $1.5 million,
just to use that figure as an example, is $1 million less than the city's goal of placing $2.5 million in the fund balance
by the end of 2010.
One factor that could ease future pain, and offset the need for more layoffs in coming years, is
if the city gains additional revenue from economic development projects, such as Steel Point.
Bill Cummings, who covers
regional issues, can be reached at 330-6230.
Launched: 06/12/2008 01:35:57 PM EDT
— A state labor arbitrator has ordered that the police Neighborhood Enforcement Team be staffed in compliance with seniority
rules spelled out in the city's contract with the police union.
The ruling, however, is being appealed by the city,
and pending the exhaustion of that process, the team will continue to function as constituted, according to John Bohannon,
the lawyer hired by the city to handle the case.
"NET will continue performing its duties," said Bohannon,
a former assistant city attorney. The state arbitrator, Joseph M. Celentano, heard arguments May 12 in City Hall and the ruling
was issued June 5.
The Bridgeport Police Union Local 1159, in its complaint, contended that Chief Bryan T. Norwood
violated the contract by personally selecting members of the 11-officer squad without regard to their seniority or promotional
The team tackles quality-of-life issues in target neighborhoods, such as loitering, illegal drugs and guns,
break-ins and underage drinking.
The chief should have chosen the NET officers based on seniority, the union complaint
states. However, union leaders add they do not want to see the squad disbanded.
Officer Frank Cuccaro, the union president,
said the ruling called for the department to "rebid the positions and go by seniority."
The city must abide
by the contract, he has said.
Mayor Bill Finch supports the team and the way its members were selected. "The NET
team is essential to the public safety
this city and we have seen great success with them under the direction" of the chief, he said.
"I support the
NET team and the chief's method for staffing it one hundred percent and I will fight tirelessly to keep the team intact
here in Bridgeport."
The team recently arrested a man who had escaped for the third time in six years from the
Connecticut Valley Hospital, the state's mental hospital.
NET officers were alerted to look for the man, Roy Sastrom,
44, who was considered armed and dangerous for allegedly using a handgun to rob a bank in Chelmsford, Mass., after his escape.
Bohannon said that's just one of the team's recent accomplishments.
"It's an intelligence-gathering
team" that also works on gangs and parole enforcement, he said.
The chief picked the team in consultation with
two deputy chiefs. The unit hit the streets in February 2007, and is made up of a sergeant and 10 officers.
has different police-work specialties.
"It works because the people were hand-picked for their particular abilities,"
"This touches on the chief's ability to manage the department effectively," he said of
the decision to challenge the arbitrator's ruling.
The union filed the grievance on behalf of an officer who applied
to be a NET member, but failed to be selected, he said.
Sgt. Paul Grech, the head of the team, declined to comment
on the ruling.
But, he said, Officer Chris Martin was recently added, bringing its membership to 11.
the team was slated to receive an award Thursday from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for its enforcement of laws on underage
drinking, Grech said.
In several sting operations, the team has nabbed numerous college students using false identification
to illegally buy alcohol. The unit has also underscored the enforcement campaign by organizing forums on underage drinking
with area college officials, and bar and package store owners.