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Chief Perez Honored At Cuban Club, What’s Chapman’s Future?

May 2nd, 2016 · 8 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, Civil Service, Law Enforcement, News and Events

Friends, family, police officers and city officials Saturday night honored Police Chief Armando J. Perez at The Cuban Lyceum as the city’s first Cuban-American police head. On March 1, Perez was appointed acting chief by Mayor Joe Ganim shortly after the resignation of Joe Gaudett who negotiated a new consulting contract to oversee the emergency operations center. The move fulfilled a campaign pledge by Ganim in a nod to the political support he received from police union leadership that desired a change at the top.

Perez, Lafitte

Cuban community leader Raul Lafitte presents plaque to Perez at Cuban Club.

The genial Perez, who joined his family in a move from Cuba to the United States when he was about 12, has been a ubiquitous presence in the city, attending numerous city functions. Although technically acting chief, Ganim will do everything within his power to ensure his ally remains chief for the years to come. The Civil Service selection process for a permanent chief could take up to a year with Ganim authorized by City Charter to select among the top three recommended candidates.

Perez cake

Who ate the first slice of AJ’s cake?

Negotiating a new role for Gaudett became a sticky issue for Ganim. One of Bill Finch’s last acts as mayor was appointing Gaudett to a new five-year term. In lieu of a hefty buyout to open up the chief’s slot, Ganim made use of Gaudett’s experience overseeing the emergency operations center, a role he had prior to serving as chief. But before that Ganim had brought back former Chief Wilbur Chapman as a senior adviser for public safety to help with a reorganization of the Police Department and make life uncomfortable enough for Gaudett, he was willing to accept a new role.

Assistant Chief James Nardozzi, who was brought in by Finch to reel in out-of-control police overtime, was a casualty of the shake up. He’s threatening to sue the city for breach of contract. Chapman and Chief Administrative Officer John Gomes also streamlined city employee take-home vehicles with an emphasis on the police department under the guise of a money-saving measure. The move has ended up being an exercise in musical cars. Many vehicles were simply redeployed over the ensuing months, according to sources who say they turned in a car only to receive a different model as the dust settled.

Chapman signed up for a six-month gig at $64,000. He has about one month remaining. Ganim critics argue the mayor is actually paying three chiefs–Perez, Chapman and Gaudett–instead of one. Will Chapman stay on?

Capricious crime statistics have been on Perez’s side in the two months he has been in charge. The city experienced just one homicide the first third of 2016 with a dip in violent crime, a point city officials are expected to highlight in the coming days. Finch had also touted lower crime rates as mayor but he often was his own worst enemy citing lower crime statistics following high profile violent crime incidents that turned off voters, a point Ganim seized upon on the 2015 campaign trail.

Biography of Perez from city’s Police Department website:

He was the oldest of three sons borne to Maximo and Rosa Perez. He is currently married to Isabel Perez, and has three children: Kelly Ann, Armand and Gabriella Perez. In June of 1968 his family had the good fortune to immigrate to the United States. They settled in Bridgeport where he and his brothers attended Saint Patrick’s School and later Kolbe High School. He later went on to work for Connecticut National Bank and attended Sacred Hart University.

On July 20th, 1983, AJ Perez became a Police Officer for the City of Bridgeport. He was assigned to the Patrol Division where he worked the West Side of the City spending his first five years in Radio car Blue 11 in the P.T. Barnum Housing Complex. He was reassigned to the East Side where he worked Radio car Red 41, and later to the Green Sector Radio car Green 35 an Amber 23.

Perez was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 1993, and assigned to the East Side of the City. In 1994 he was reassigned the Office of Internal Affairs. In 1998, he was assigned to the Mayor’s Office and later reassigned to the Chief of Police as his executive Officer.

Perez was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 2001, and was later assigned to the Professional Standards Division as the Officer in Charge of Sick or Injured Officers. On October 2009 Perez was assigned to the Tactical Narcotics/Vice Division and was later promoted to the Rank of Captain in 2010. In July of 2013, Captain Perez was placed in charge of the Detective Bureau as Commander where he remained until his appointment as Bridgeport Chief of Police.

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • John Marshall Lee

    Public Safety is a major item most people would indicate as a “quality of life” indicator for City life. Fire protection, security from criminal acts, and appropriate communication in times of emergency are all markers of desirables.

    But where are the various indicators posted? How many years have they shown us various trends? Do we need the same sized forces? Do we need departments organized in different ways? Do we really require the number of people who appear at the top, certainly for compensation by taxpayers, but what do they do and is it genuinely required? Do force levels need a 21st Century look?

    Acting Chief Perez is everywhere these days being most visible and friendly. However, the Police Department for a variety of reasons has been undermanned for several years, causing blowouts in overtime budgets and providing officers, especially nearing or exceeding retirement years of service to qualify for larger retirement incomes under State MERS than would have been received under Plan B Police.

    So the City budget stands at $560M requested FY2017 and the BOE section runs about $259M leaving about $301 Million for all City expenses. (Page 9 Budget)

    Add Police division on Pages 110 and 111 (making an allowance for Narcotics and Vice which data is missing from the budget) and Police Department total is about $106 Million. Fire Department (Pages 133 etc.) totals over $65 Million and EOC add another $6 Million.

    The rest of the City budget runs on $124 Million. Did you know that? Look at the payrolls today. Look at the fringe funding. Look at the Capital repayments. Remember the Pension Obligation Bonds that run over $30 Million each year for more than 10 more years into the future.

    What do taxpayers think about all this? Time will tell.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      “Acting Chief Perez is everywhere these days being most visible and friendly. However, the Police Department for a variety of reasons has been undermanned for several years, causing blowouts in overtime budgets and providing officers, especially nearing or exceeding retirement years of service to qualify for larger retirement incomes under State MERS than would have been received under Plan B Police.”

      How about taking a look at the flip side of the coin? If you try this you’ll probably notice you won’t have to wait for “time to tell.” A Chief who’s nowhere to be found or seen and when found or seen is mean, insensitive and only the friend of the Assistant Chief. Go just two months in time as Perez being the Police Chief. Can anyone blame Chief Perez for what Gaudett did going seven years back in time? Too much time has passed me by as I wait to hear the poster who constantly talks and ask questions about millions of dollars has finally picked up a coin to look at both of its sides. JML, you’ve got e-mail. Let me know if the link works.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Joel,
        I call you occasionally. Do me a favor, if you dispute the statement I made, do it here. Coin has two sides, and maybe more, but no one is addressing the Police budget presented that totals about $106 Million, not $53.6 (that is only the Police Administration). How did it get there? Gradually, but all of a sudden the “price tag” for counting overtime for three high years of 25 working years provides a baseline for increased retirement years, in many cases more than 25 into the future. And the price tag must be funded, something Finch and Sherwood (and Adam Wood) knew about but did not disclose, and Budget and Appropriations did not question actuaries in public session for years and Sherwood did not disclose necessary Police pension payments in the 2016 budget, and probably Mayor Ganim does not want taxpayers to see the major expense trends of Police Department while crime statistics are trending down. And the Police Department is having trouble with no firing range finding time to schedule regular range firing for officers as well as two-week concentrated blocks of time for new recruit classes. And location of new firing range, expiry of extensions for range grants and timetables are current PROBLEMS along with the fact old training grants that pay 75% and City 25% of new trainees are likely not of use at this time until we are at full strength. What does full strength mean? Perhaps former Chief Chapman could report on what it might look like. The Police Department budget handed to the City Council is not accurate in that effort to inform the public. Time will tell.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Most of us had a great time. I was taken aback by the number of Police Officers’ wives who wanted an introduction to meet me and shake my hand (can’t say the same for some civilians there) and thank me for standing up for cops on OIB. The majority sentiment was some bloggers are just totally clueless (to put it nicely) and many wished they could say the things I write and some more. Once again, you are welcome ladies! By the time I got there, all tables were taken it was packed and many were packing concealed weapons. I got in FREE (I think) as I didn’t see a price listed on the posted flyer at the PD. I didn’t even know there was a cake. Looking at the cake, it’s a beautiful cake and had I been given the honor to “cut” the cake, it would have been hard for me to cut it.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Was it Marie Antoinette before the revolution who is quoted as saying, “Let them eat cake?” I wasn’t there Joel but I did notice the number of cars parked in Black Rock for the festivities while on my way home from a benefit dinner to provide funds for girls and boys in Bridgeport to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based careers. Council members Brantley, Lyons, Nieves, Taylor-Moye, Burns and McCarthy were present at the dinner and may have later attended the Chief Perez party. Maybe they had dessert in Black Rock. No problem from my viewpoint.

      Just one question: How do you show the education of 22,000 is equally important to the City Council as well as good compensation for several hundred public safety employees? What is the priority when Mayor Ganim fails to fund contractual increases, and the City Council comes to the table without any stated priorities? Time will tell.

      • Joel Gonzalez

        JML, you sound kind of mad at me. You get what you elect. How many times have you seen me post this? Those morons in the 130th who voted against you deserve a tax increase and I won’t feel sorry if they have to turn their homes over to the bank. Did you read my post about a few weeks ago when the council hired that bean counter for $7,400? Did you read councilmen Burns’ comment to the Post? One of the responsibilities, instruction or expectation of this bean counter was to quote “Identify new potential sources of revenue.” Has he found any? Has McCarthy put pressure on him to find a good one? To me a good new source of revenue would have to provide at least $15 million a year. Notice I’m asking questions too. I would have loved to have seen you getting elected to the council probably more than you or as much. I think you should consider spending more ‘time’ meeting and making more friends in Black Rock or better yet the whole 130th district and try another run. To be honest, even if you did win and went onto the council, you would still not get answers to many of your questions.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Congratulations. I would have loved to have been there. I am certain it was a very proud moment for the entire Perez family!

  • Ron Mackey

    Now, when does Acting Police Chief AJ Perez becomes Provisional Police Chief AJ Perez just like the way Fire Chief Rooney and Police Chief Gaudett were made provisional chiefs and then were allowed to retire and receive their pension and still serve as the chiefs of their departments?

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