On Tuesday, Mayor Ganim announced that his administration will initiate another national search for a new Chief of Police.

For seven months during 2018, from May through November, Bridgeport Generation Now led and organized a coalition of community organizations calling for Mayor Ganim to hold an open and transparent Police Chief search. Our calls for transparency, high standards, and meaningful community engagement were met with indignation, stall tactics and silence at every turn.

From the beginning, we knew something wasn’t right. We knew the administration was actively trying to shut the community out of the process. They saw fit to that with closed-door meetings, secret panels, and invitation-only luncheons. Their actions spoke louder than any of their words. 

Yet, we continued to have high expectations. In October of 2018, our coalition stood outside the Margaret Morton Government Center in the freezing cold to deliver the message that our police department was in a state of crisis, that racism and misconduct in the department were on full display, and that the residents of Bridgeport deserve leadership that takes our lives, concerns and safety seriously. Unfortunately, less than a week later Mayor Ganim appointed the least qualified candidate, then Acting Chief AJ Perez, to the job. 

After watching former Police Chief Perez and Personnel Director David Dunn go to prison last year for conspiring to rig the process in Perez’s favor, Bridgeport residents are rightfully skeptical of Mayor Joe Ganim’s ability to lead. Will he be able to execute an ethical, transparent, effective and community-based national search for a new Chief of Police?

Four years ago, we had high expectations. We have even higher expectations now.

Paying lip service to an “open and transparent process” does not make it so. This time, we demand real substantive action. Therefore, we call on Mayor Ganim to:

  • Convene 2 public forums to get meaningful input on the community’s public safety needs, concerns, and vision for a new Chief of Police.
  • Hold 2 public meetings with the search consultant to get community input on criteria for the next Chief of Police
  • Convene a selection committee comprised of Bridgeport residents, including youth
  • Release the names of the selection committee publicly 
  • Release the names of all finalists publicly
  • Hold a public forum with the finalists where they present themselves and their vision to the community

The work of the new Bridgeport Chief of Police is the same as it was in 2018 – to effectively transform the department’s culture. From one steeped in racism, abuse, corruption, and misconduct to one that takes seriously the task to become a just, equitable, ethical, and transparent department committed to protecting the safety and well-being of all Bridgeport residents. 

We deserve a Police Chief who shares this vision, and who has the skills, expertise, and capacity to lead effectively. Mayor Ganim failed this search process four years ago. To be successful this time, he must show the people of Bridgeport that he is committed to a process that meets the community’s high expectations.