Does It Matter Where They Live? 30 Percent Of Uniformed Services Reside In City

police department

About 30 percent of Bridgeport’s 702 public safety officers reside in the city, according to statistics provided by the city for members of police and fire services.

The number of Bridgeport residents in the Police Department is 121 versus 297 living outside. In the Fire Department 97 members reside in the city, 187 in communities outside. Residency percentage is higher in the Fire Department.

The topic of residency for uniformed services is sometimes debated in the OIB comments section. Supporters of residency argue that it provides multiple benefits to the city including economic impact through the spending of dollars in Bridgeport as well as a stronger connection to citizens being served. Residing in Bridgeport builds knowledge of community and political activism that drives additional voters to the polls.

Case in point, when residency was required, the 1973 reelection of Republican Mayor Nicholas Panuzio who was swept back into office by members of uniformed services rallying his proposal for a pension following 20 years of service, better known as 20 and out. The Democratic candidate Bill Mullane argued it would break the bank. A few  years later under Mayor John Mandanici, the 25-year policy was restored. Still, it showed the power of the police and fire vote. And other future elections as well.

Residency requirement changed in the 1980s through collective bargaining agreements that allowed a mileage radius. Then the Connecticut legislature got into the act prohibiting “municipalities from requiring that employees covered by collective bargaining agreements live in the town as a condition of employment.” See history here.

Bridgeport’s Personnel Director David Dunn, for one, says he’d like to see more members of police and fire city residents. “When residency was removed it contributed to hurting the middle class of cities,” he said. “Police and fire are occupations that pay good middle class career wages. A lot of them moved out.”

Dunn says the city provides preference points to encourage city resident applications for police and fire. Pass the test and the score is enhance by 15 percent, what Dunn calls the highest percentage incentive in the state. The city also waives the $35 test fee for residents who can show economic hardship.

The counter argument to residency is opponents who claim you don’t want first line defenders exposed to criminal elements who could blow their cover. Also if the cops reside out of town, with no personal attachments, they are more likely to enforce the law. Dunn asserts those claims are fallacious.

Dunn says the 30 percent residency of members of police and fire has been consistent for the past decade. Other cities such as Hartford (see here) have their own measure to prioritize city residents.

Dunn says the city’s in the early planning stages of the next police exam with a committee comprised of his office, the Chief Administrative Office and police personnel examining the technical side of the test. A key component to a higher residency ratio, he says, is the recruitment process to attract a greater pool of Bridgeport people.

The testing process for police includes a physical before the written test, followed by oral examination, lie detector, psychological review, another physical examination including stress test, two drug tests and then physical fitness within 30 days of the first day of the academy. Fire applicants do the same minus the polygraph.

“We look upon this as a career opportunity for applicants,” says Dunn. “The city is investing millions of dollars in careers that are 25 years and more.”



  1. Bridgeport’s Personnel Director David Dunn is a LIAR and all one has to is to track his 40 years in every position that has been GIVEN to him and you will see his lies. Between Dunn and Hamilton Burger in the City’s Attorney office they are and have been terrible employees and they both need to go yesterday. Dunn is so blind that he still hasn’t found a way to hire white females along with black and Hispanic females to become firefighters during his entire term as the City’s Personnel Director and Mayor Ganim you are responsible for Dunn’s hiring and testing process. Joe, so you have no problem with women being kept off of the Fire Department and you what women in Connecticut to vote for you to be their governor, no way Joe, no way.

    1. A few years ago at the request of a council member, I researched the residency of police officers. As Joel noted, most who had a Bridgeport address gave it as 300 Congress Street for an assortment of reasons.

  2. The fact is that under David Dunn less Bridgeport residents have been hired for the police and fire departments than under any civil service director in the history of Bridgeport. He said they give 15% preference points for Bridgeport residents yet is he saying that Bridgeport’s education is only 15% worse than that of the wealthy white suburbia or that the wealthy white suburbia only spends 15% more on education than Bridgeport? That 15% doesn’t mean a damn thing if you are using other mechanisms of exclusion like the psych exam or CPAT that he uses for the fire department that haven’t been used since we filled suit against the city in 1976.

    Mayor Ganim shares in this failure because he continues to leave David Dunn in a position that he isn’t qualified to do and in a position that he never tested for. This was done so he can use the civil service to hire political patronage jobs for his lackeys which no qualified civil service director would allow or participate.

  3. Well I guess it all comes down to whether 30% is acceptable to you.
    If we have been there for the past decade and it hasn’t moved then I would give Dunn a 30% job performance rating.
    30% is not acceptable to me. And to be there for the past decade or so is not showing progress. By not moving forward you are moving backwards.
    If 30% is acceptable to Dunn then he should go to the suburbs because he has a much higher success rate there.

  4. Let me add this, the average salary for a firefighter in Bridgeport is $80,000 per year which doesn’t include that of lieutenants, captains or chiefs and I’m sure that the police department is simular if not more per year. Now if you take the figure of 702 employees and use the 30% figure which means that approximately 492 live outside of the city. If you multiply that 492 that live outside of the city and use that $80,000 figure you have $39,360,000 leaving the city every year at a time when Bridgeport can least afford not to get any return on its money and Bridgeport’s money is being used to uplift the suburbs.

    Hartford only hires Hartford residents for police and fire yet those hired can move after they’re hired. Hartford is saying, you don’t have to stay a resident, but you sure as hell have to start out a one. On a side note, of those 97 members of the fire department that are Bridgeport residents well over 90% are Black and Latino. It appears that Black and Latinos that become firefighters stay Bridgeport residents unlike David Dunn and Mayor Ganim.

  5. One of the smartest things the politicians did was allow members of the uniformed services to move out of town. The politicians removed these unions as a voting block.
    There are 484 uniformed members that live out of town counting their spouses that is a total of 964 votes/ The uniformed services removed themselves as an effective voting force. If all their members lived in town it would be easy doe them too control primaries,

    1. ger·ry·man·der
      gerund or present participle: gerrymandering
      manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.
      achieve (a result) by manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency.

      That why Dunn, Finch and Ganim don’t want City resident as firefighters and police officers.

  6. *** It seems there was a closer relationship between resident uniformed city services personnel & Bpt. Residents back when they where required to live in the city. The unions were much more involved in politics & the city public schools! Community policing was great & programs like PAL cadets, boxing, shoe shine box program, basketball league, baseball, Xmas Village, school crossing patrols, etc. we’re very involved in city hood areas. I used to cut & trim hedges as a young teen for P/O Tony Pelligrino in Black Rock who got me a part-time dish-washer job @ the Bpt. Flyer Dinner after school and on Sundays which is how I saved for my school clothes per way of lay away! The community police knew who lived in the neighborhood and who did’nt , also who was the bad guys and good guys. The neighborhood fire-house were friendly and would bake cookies, brownies, etc. and give some out @ times to the little kids that would ride there bikes their when their bikes needed some kind of fixing, flats or air, that at times certain firemen would help them out! ***

    1. Mojo, when schools would have career day or if we were asked if with could bring s fire vehicle to a school it was fun because we knew the principal and some of the same teachers who taught us. The late Jettie Tisdale would was the principal at that time at the old Longfellow School would call some of us up to talk to certain students who needed a little encouragement or who were a little on the down side and she knew that they like firefighters. Well, Mrs Tisdale was my brother’s teacher and she would visited my parents when we were living in PT Barnum to give them a update on my brother because both of my parents worked during the day, it was a different time but hiring Bridgeport residents for City jobs and career is always good.

  7. Yes Mojo the city was a very different place when people cared about it and one another. Back then people agreed to disagree or if it came to a fight the better man won and they continued to be friends. You trimmed hedges and worked at a diner. Sadly this generation does not know what the word work means. For some going to school to learn is considered no cool in some circles.

    Years ago we went to school and very few dropped out. My mother taught in the city school system she had eyes on me everywhere cause she knew everybody.

    It is so sad to see what has happened to this city.

  8. My father was a Bridgeport Firefighter. Besides the economic issues there is public safety. When you hire Bridgeport residents they are on the job 24 – 7, 52 weeks a year.
    When you hire suburbanites, the minute they punch out they are off of the clock. Return to the suburbs with Bridgeport and distant memory.
    Plain and simple.

    1. Excuse me. They are not 40 hours on the job and then high tail it to the suburbs. They have to collect all of the OT they can get first.
      Why not give OT to Bridgeport residents first! Maybe that will give the suburbanites something to think about.

  9. And furthermore, the community bond, especially with the police department, is not there. It is more us versus them.
    Friction not cooperation.

  10. I agree with Walsh. When I was growing up in Bridgeport we got to know firefighters and policeman as role models
    . My dad was a firefighter, my mom, a Bridgeport teacher, my uncle a Bridgeport Detective and all their associates inBridgrpory. A real stabilizing effect. They cared more about the City-not the “is against them” culture you see today. And us kids were more behaved. We didn’t want a uniformed ifficer bringing us home Then there was more community. Today they act like zookeepers- they come in from the suburbs everyday and open the cages
    What a damn shame

  11. Bob and Bob, I concur with both of your observations about the police and fire departments. There was a time when I knew every Black police officer and they knew you. When something happened you felt comfortable talking to them telling them who did what because you knew them and thru knew you. They lived in the community and they were invested in the community. That sentiment is lost because you now have 70% of the uniformed services living outside and taking millions of dollars with them. Bridgeport’s loss is the suburbs gain.


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