Down to 298 police officers–less 50 since a year ago due to retirements and defections to other departments–the city has opened a recruitment drive with the goal of hiring 70 newcomers within one year. Optimum police staffing is 426 members, according to Acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia.
The looming question: can those hires keep pace with additional losses? Part of the issue centers on high healthcare premiums covered by police officers and national controversies blunting police work as a coveted profession.
These challenges will face the next chief of police that is expected to be hired in September following an ongoing national search.
Politics also enters into the fray with a mayoral election on the horizon in 2023.
If there’s a major spike in crime it’s easy to connect the problem to staffing shortages, real or imagined. It became a central issue of the 2015 mayoral cycle when Joe Ganim defeated incumbent Bill Finch in a Democratic primary.
Ganim managed reelection in 2019 defeating state Senator Marilyn Moore in a tight primary on his way to a general election win.
The police department has been a toothache for Ganim, some of it self-inflicted, following his top-cop appointment of Armando Perez who was later charged and subsequently did federal time for scheming to rig the chief testing process with former Personnel Director David Dunn.
Wooing Bridgeport residents is also a goal of the recruitment drive. City residents can receive an additional 15 percent added to their final passing score showing proof of residency for at least one year prior to June 21, 2022, according to the Police Department web site promoting the recruitment.
What a grand idea, when active numbers drop below 300 (while a target of 426 exists unreviewed and unmodified), and retirements average about 25 per year, anyway; and you know that of recent recruits you are losing an additional 25 annually to other departments; and what if INTERNAL OVERTIME is running rampant? YES, it is not too soon to DO SOMETHING about it! Timetable and ACTION PROGRESS made public monthly?
What do the long-experienced Police Commissioners have to say about it? Can you hear them today? Yesterday? Do they have to go public with some commentary? What other group of community members should be looking at PUBLIC SAFETY for current operation with “best practices”? Do they represent “blue blood” or “tired blood”?
Seems some type of complaint about medical insurance premiums? Perhaps those premiums needed an increase because benefits were too large? What about a hit the public taxpayers took when Finch and friends moved police pensions from Plan B to MERS which allowed all OVERTIME to be compensable today as always, but count for pension credit too? Without any funding from EXTERNAL Overtime sources?
Creator of the 30 second advertisement likes a firepower percussion beat, and a lot of bodies in motion, too. But where are the more common serene moments where “community policing” becomes the order of the day for oversight and meeting the people where they are, influencing a community to change? When candidates have pursued education through college and perhaps beyond, where is there any recognition of Bridgeport professionalism, as a minimum goal? Time will tell.
JML, Maybe the long-experienced Police Commissioners should take some Geritol?
Geritol is a brand name for several vitamin complexes plus iron or multimineral products in both liquid form and tablets, containing from 9.5 to 18 mg of iron per daily dose. The name conveys a connection with aging, as in “geriatric”. The product has been promoted from almost the beginning of the mass media era as a cure for “iron-poor tired blood”.
John it’s time for this Commission to evaporate!
Couple unasked questions from above YouTube presentation: Who produced the sights and sounds of a Bridgeport Public Safety Training Class? At what cost to the Mayor’s Office? Or Police Department budget? Or who? After a Request for Proposal process, when? Do I have standing to ask such questions? Does a City with professionals hired and retained for their communications ability and experience have a reason to hold back on such important parts of local stories? Time will tell.
Bridgeport can’t compete…..
Neighboring towns pay their cops 85-98k per year base salary plus overtime to literally do less than half of the work. The city is refusing to make themselves competitive and constantly throw the department under the bus. Bridgeport has become a feeder system for small towns.
Also I wouldn’t complain about the Cmers Overtime pension, towns like Seymour, Shelton, and Hamden all have the exact same plan and their officials are quite happy with how well staffed their department is.
If you want to recruit, start being as competitive as them, very simple.