BRIDGEPORT – Despite using a more reputable search firm this time around, Bridgeport is again not requiring a college degree for one of the city’s highest paying jobs. Bridgeport’s next Chief will earn between $145,076.00 – $159,384 per year and will be responsible for managing the Department’s $107.1 million annual budget. Bridgeport Generation Now released a statement and attended all three of the public forums, stating we want a Chief who:

“Has the experience and education necessary to lead our diverse community including 15+ years experience working in a community with similar demographics to Bridgeport, a BA/BS degree (Master’s Degree preferred).”

From the CT Post: The city is accepting applications for a new police chief and, critics fear, repeating what a federal investigation identified as one of the decisions that tainted the 2018 search to benefit former top cop Armando Perez — not requiring candidates have a college degree.

“That’s a mistake,” Councilman Scott Burns, who co-chairs a mayoral policing reform task force established in late 2020, said Friday. “Especially after what we went through.”

When Ganim’s administration last held a national search for a police chief four years ago, Perez, a close Ganim associate who was then acting chief, ultimately got the five-year contract as many expected given his experience on the force and his political ties.

Critics who felt Perez was unqualified at the time complained that a college degree was not mandated and alleged it was because Perez lacked one.

The federal complaint from September 2020 detailing the case against Perez and Dunn specified how part of the plot involved the latter giving unusual instructions to the consultant used in 2018 that would only benefit Perez, like that “there should be no requirement that a candidate possess a bachelor’s degree, or any penalty for candidates who did not have one.”

“In Consultant-1’s experience, it is unusual for a police chief not to have a bachelor’s degree,” continued the complaint. “Armando Perez … does not have a bachelor’s degree and was the only applicant without one.”

Callie Heilmann, who runs Bridgeport Generation Now, a civic group that had opposed Ganim’s choice of Perez and whose leadership met recently with IACP representatives, said Friday the situation seems like a repeat of 2018.

“The first thing we think is, ‘Okay, who do they have in mind who’s unqualified for the job?’” Heilmann said. “It’s a very simple thing. Just make a bachelor’s degree a requirement.”

Heilmann, who said she otherwise was pleased with much of the job description, added it seems that anyone who meets those standards would also have a higher education.

“The requirements themselves point to somebody who has a high level of expertise, training and education,” she said. “We would love to know what the justification for it (not requiring a college degree) is beyond just increasing the pool of applications, which isn’t sufficient because we don’t need unqualified people to apply.”

And Kate Rivera, a local activist and director of operations for Women Against Mass Incarceration, said in a written statement Friday, “The community has again lost complete trust in the search process.”

“This is so disheartening! The chiefs of New Haven and Hartford are educated,” Rivera wrote. “Bridgeport deserves and will settle for nothing but the absolute best!”

The Connecticut Post, “Bridgeport again not requiring college degree for police chief candidates by Brian Lockhart,” June 20th, 2022

The full job description is available here: