BRIDGEPORT – Monday, June 6th. On Thursday and Friday of last week, the City – in coordination with the International Association of Chiefs of Police search firm – held two community forums to hear from residents about their public safety concerns and vision for a new Chief of Police. Unfortunately, the forums were not well-attended because the City put out a press release at 3:00pm on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, giving residents less than 5 days notice to make plans to attend.

From the CT Post: The overall message at Thursday’s event was there is a need for a chief — whether an outsider or an individual who has worked their way up the ranks in Bridgeport — to reform the culture within the force, crack down on the bad actors, and work hard to be honest, transparent and win back the community’s trust.

Over the past few years Bridgeport’s department has been buffeted by controversies: Cops accused of excessive force; allegations of racism; internal power struggles and racial divisions; and problems recruiting and retaining officers.

“We have been traumatized by a chief and department that functions on political motivation,” said Gemeem Davis, a head of the Bridgeport Generation Now civic group, Thursday.

“Some of these officers ride around like they’re thugs,” said Davis.

Resident Chinedum Nnodum recalled an incident where he saw an officer strike a young man, seemingly without provocation. He said that creates distrust.

“Are we going to get a chief who is going to hold his officers accountable?” Nnodum said.

💥💥 If you missed the first two, there will be a 3rd forum on Monday, June 13th at 6:00pm at Central High School in the auditorium! And if you haven’t yet, please complete the online survey 💥💥

At Thursday’s forum, we presented our demands for a high-quality, transparent search process, that includes:

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

We also presented the following qualifications, values, and priorities that Bridgeport deserves the next Chief, informed by our years of research, organizing, and members’ priorities. We want a Chief who:

  • Recognizes and respects the value in civilian oversight, the role of the Police Commission, and will work with us to expand the powers of the Police Commission to include all incidents of misconduct.
  • Is ethical, moral, and just. It is imperative that the new Chief commit to not abusing his or her power to aid political parties, political candidates and/or his/herself.
  • 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)
  • Wants to live in our city – and who will live here!
  • Understands that Bridgeport residents have needs beyond funding our police department – and will work with us to reallocate money into education, housing, mental health and drug addiction services, and other community needs.
  • Wants to work with us to reform our Police Union contract to address unchecked power, fire abusive officers, reduce the amount of money we pay out in lawsuits, and hold others truly accountable.
  • Wants to reform our Policy Handbook to have zero tolerance for excessive force and other violent behaviors.
  • Is ready to demilitarize our police department and keep police out of our schools.
  • Will establish Anti-Racism training for the entire Bridgeport Police Department.
  • Will organize public community forums to keep the public informed about crime statistics, gun violence, traffic crashes, police misconduct, and other public safety issues – and the strategies and partnerships to address them.
  • Is ready to reform the Citizen Complaint process to one that encourages Bridgeport residents to report civil rights violations and other abuses.