Cops Approve New Contract As Mayoral Election Gears Up

With a mayoral election on the horizon, the Bridgeport Police union on Wednesday approved a new four-year contract granting firing power and assignment flexibility to Police Chief Joe Gaudett, 2.5 percent pay increases each year for officers and some concessions in a 260-79 vote by membership. The union had rejected a contract proposal last year. Three of the four years of the contract are retroactive so police negotiators will be back at the bargaining table with the city next year.

Chief Gaudett had sought firing power, saying he had been handcuffed in disciplinary action. Firing power had been a function of the mayoral-appointed Police Commission.

Facing the lowest staffing levels in two decades with more projected depletion in ranks this year, the department just completed a new recruitment effort in the hope of attracting candidates who better reflect the racial, ethnic and gender makeup of the city.

Police staffing has dipped below 400 in a city challenged to compete with the pay scale and benefits offered by surrounding communities. Veteran members of the department have left-–many cashing in retirement pay–-for higher-paying communities and private-sector security positions. In recent years collective bargaining agreements have required city police officers to contribute growing shares to medical benefits. Some area communities are offering lateral movement hires, meaning city officers can segue right into the respective systems because they are certified in law enforcement. The towns save money on training of recruits.

“The residents in Bridgeport have asked me more times than I care to remember, ‘Where are the black police officers?'” says retired police office Ron Bailey, now chief of police for a community college in Massachusetts. The makeup of police and fire personnel will become an issue in the mayoral race as Mayor Bill Finch prepares to seek a third four-year term.

Former Mayor Joe Ganim is gearing up for a run for his old job with a formal announcement likely early April. Finch’s 2011 Democratic primary opponent Mary-Jane Foster is expected to make a decision about a run in the next week. Three-time mayoral candidate Charlie Coviello is an announced candidate.

OIB has heard from many police officers who say they will openly support Ganim for mayor. Will they also open up their pocketbooks? Finch has more than $300,000 in his campaign account and counting. Ganim, a relentless fundraiser as mayor, must pick up a lot of financial ground to share his message and counter attacks from the Finch political operation reminding voters of his fall from office.

Ganim won’t have as much moolah as Finch. Will he have enough to compete?



  1. Sadly when (not if) Ganim wins, he has to fix a mess in the PD. With this contract more veteran cops will retire and many newer cops will too. They will not stay here and get crappie benefits when other towns will take them. All Finch has given this city is unsafe streets with fewer cops. If you believe crime is down to record levels in Bridgeport, the great PT Barnum would have loved you. This town will be down some 125 cops by July. Glad I’m gone!

  2. I talked to a friend of mine who is a detective and he said there are 50 or so waiting in the wings to retire. He said at first they were waiting for the move to the state pension that would pay them based on their three best years and then to settle this contract. That 125 figure by summer is what he said as well.

  3. Donald Day, if the numbers are true and nothing is going to change with the upcoming police entry level exam, it will mean there will only be 15 new black police officers thereby making it decades before the Bridgeport Police Dept reflects the residents of Bridgeport.

  4. Even when they give this test, it will be two years before you see these guys on the road. It takes too long to grade, file appeals, etc. Then they will go somewhere else after getting the training as well. Good job, Finch.

  5. Food for thought, my detective friend also told me over 95% of those hired from Bridgeport never left the department to go to another city. Another reason to hire Bridgeport residents.

  6. Here is another screw-up by Finch and Company. Negotiating to let cops and firefighters using their best three years means the city will be paying more to MERF than it should. What this new pension means is including outside OT it is conceivable a patrolman could retire at 100% of his base pay or more.

  7. Finch is bragging about a safe city. We had another shooting over near Pond St. Burns construction was doing road work when a man approached and asked for a job, he was told to go to the office and fill out an application. The man left and returned a short time later and shot one of the workers twice. The worker is in very critical condition.

  8. Like Finch or not, there is nothing he or anyone else could have done to prevent that senseless murder. If my intuition serves me right, the perpetrator will plead insanity and get tucked away nicely in an institutionalized setting. My sympathy to the family, friends and coworkers of the deceased.

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