City Council President Aidee Nieves issued this news release on Wednesday:
The Bridgeport City Council stands here today to express our heartfelt pain and compassion for George Floyd, his family, the African American community and our nation as a whole. As a result of the horrific death of George Floyd; our communities and country are understandably reeling from grief, anger, and sadness. We stand united and in solidarity with the family of George Floyd and families of color who have endured the tragic loss of loved ones at the hands of police officers both unjustly and with little to no accountability.
Some residents of Bridgeport have experienced similar incidents with our own police department and have called for reform and accountability. Although the Bridgeport City Council recognizes that history cannot be changed; we can take steps to ensure history does not repeat itself moving forward.
All our police officers have a contract with the residents of Bridgeport to “protect and serve” them. Bridgeport police officers are compensated and trained professionals that must always maintain the highest level of decorum and integrity to ensure the public has trust in their decisions, actions and conduct.
To ensure that the community at large has faith and trust in their elected City Council representatives and police department; the City Council will be taking the following action:
1) We will immediately move to ban any form of “choke holds” in both police training and as an acceptable form of restraint used by the Bridgeport Police Department;
2) We will be working to ensure that all police officers are provided with “constituent engagement” training;
3) We will ensure that all police officers are provided with “de-escalation” training not only in the academy, but on an annual basis;
4) We will work to ensure all police officers are provided body cameras which must be turned on during all interactions with citizens;
5) We will be discussing that all BPD settlements and/or judgements related to excessive force and civil rights violations will be paid out of the police overtime budget as a form of accountability for any unlawful behavior;
6) We will review the structure and function of the Board of Police Commissioners.
We also stand in solidarity with those who have peacefully protested the continued injustice and systemic racism African American families and communities of color continue to experience. In addition, we are expecting and support any additional protests and rallies to be held over the next few days, however we are respectfully requesting that all participants peacefully protest while maintaining civility and respect for all Bridgeport’s residents, emergency responders, homes and businesses.
As a significantly diverse community, we believe we can rise to the challenge before us together as we are all invested and united in the betterment of every aspect of our beloved Bridgeport.