At least 14 candidates have applied for Bridgeport’s top cop job, a process helmed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in conjunction with the city Personnel Office. The deadline to apply ended last week.
Among the applicants is Acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia who was elevated to the position in September 2020 following the resignation and subsequent conviction of Armando Perez for scheming to rig the last search in 2018.
Former Assistant Chief James Nardozzi who was cheated out of the finalist list in 2018 because of the test scheme has also applied.
OIB has requested additional information from the IACP and the city about number of candidates and applicant names.
“I was appointed to this position approximately two years ago during a very difficult time not only for the department but for the community as well,” Garcia said in a statement last week. “Together, we have been working diligently on recovery and rebuilding trust and have overcome many hurdles and I am looking forward to continuing these efforts.”
Garcia is known as a tough disciplinarian, something that The Bridgeport Guardians activist group on behalf of black officers claim is taken to extreme. The organization charges she favors Hispanic officers.
Garcia’s dealt with a number of thorny issues including the deaths last year of two black women where timely police notification of family had come under question and took on national notice. In one case a Bumble date notified police of an unresponsive woman who medical examiners determined died from a drug overdose. The other situation involved a woman who died from cardiovascular disease.
Community pushback was quick to judge police actions including a lingering fallacy that law enforcement was somehow complicit in the deaths when one involved personal responsibility and the other a health issue.
Garcia is also challenged to manage a department that cannot keep pace with retirements and defections to cozy suburban communities that pay more and with stronger benefits.
According to a selection timeline, the IACP will now evaluate all applicants to confirm they meet the basic minimum requirements for the job. An examination will be conducted for those candidates that meet minimum qualifications to rank and score their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Applicants who pass the initial screening for minimum qualifications go to the next round of screening and evaluation. Semi-finalists from screening and evaluation advance to a structured exercise phase.
The Civil Service Commission certifies the finalists’ ranking on a list based on composite scores from the structured exercise. The three finalists will be offered to Mayor Joe Ganim in the final phase of the process. Once a final decision is reached, the mayor will notify the Civil Service Commission and the Board of Police Commissioners of the appointment.
The timeline calls for three names presented to Ganim mid September. The City Charter authorizes the mayor to appoint a chief up to two five-year terms with the contract approved by the City Council.