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Ex Cop Arrested For Manufacturing Racial Hatred, Past President Of Guardians “Offended By Events”

December 2nd, 2015 · 26 Comments · Law Enforcement, News and Events

UPDATE: The police news Bill Finch suppressed in his final days as mayor has been released, a retired black police officer has been charged with conspiring to concoct racial hatred in the department in which he claims a black superior Lieutenant Lonnie Blackwell, president of the Guardians minority police organization, put him up to it. Retired Bridgeport Police Lieutenant Ron Bailey, a past president of the Guardians, issued this statement to OIB:

As a past president of the Guardians and knowing personally about this case, I am offended by the recent turn of events. We as African America officers, for that matter any officer, should never compromise our integrity in the manner that has been exposed. I would say this, Clive Higgins has said he was coerced into writing that racial motivated letter. He is telling the truth. I know first-hand he was not the only one approached and asked to do something of that nature. I have also cooperated with all investigative bodies because it was the right thing to do. The investigation is still ongoing so I cannot divulge more than this for now.


From Dan Tepfer, CT Post:

Nine months after a racist letter was disseminated in the Police Department two separate investigations have found a conspiracy to foment racial hatred in the department. A former black officer, who claimed to be a target of the letter, was arrested Wednesday and the head of the police training academy and president of a minority police organization was placed on administrative duty.

Clive Higgins who was cleared by a federal court jury earlier this year of police brutality charges despite a video showing him stomping a prone suspect in Beardsley Park in 2011, surrendered at State Police Troop I in Bethany Wednesday morning. He was charged with second-degree falsely reporting an incident and released on a promise to appear in court pending arraignment in Superior Court on Dec. 16.

Lt. Lonnie Blackwell, president of the Bridgeport Guardians, was relieved of his command of the training academy and placed on administrative duty by Police Chief Joseph Gaudett pending possible firing.

Full story here.

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26 Comments so far ↓

  • Grin Ripper

    Gaudett should be Gonzo Alonzo! Paging Board of Police Commissioners???

    • John Marshall Lee

      Grin,
      Why page the Board of Police Commissioners? What would you expect of them on any subject based on their years of silence to the public? How about restoring that group to full strength? (Assuming Dan Roach steps down, the Board is reduced to four citizens leaving three vacancies.) While you are paging them, only one of the four is serving in an unexpired term. Have our Boards and Commissions become dysfunctional since evaluations are not part of the process and expired terms can run for a decade or more? Time will tell.

  • DavidDanielsIII

    This is a sad day for Our City, the Police Department and the Bridgeport Guardians, and the fact it was suppressed until after the installation of the new Mayor or the exit of the old Mayor speaks volumes of the state of our city politics within institutions that should be unfettered to be fair and impartial.

  • Steven Auerbach

    David Daniels III, I am not sure what the suppression of this issue has to do with the new or old Mayor. It does have to do with a black man in very ethnically diverse city trying to divide the city during a time of extreme racial tensions in the country and making us into a Ferguson-esque environment while painting the Mayor and his team as racists. This man is reprehensible. I stated nine months ago it would be extremely sad if it were a black man. It is extremely sad.

    • Ron Mackey

      Steve, it’s the same thing that’s happening in Chicago with their mayor except someone is dead. Politics, both of these mayors were in tight election but Finch is gone and Emanuel will be next.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Steve, this arrest warrant was deliberately held in Gaudett’s desk for a while. I hear he was asked to hold back on making it public. There are more to come.

  • Tom White

    Disgraceful, both the action by black police officers and the suppression by the Finch administration. Will likely make national news. Just what Bridgeport needs.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Tom, what advantage was it for Finch to suppress this information? I am confused. Enlighten me.

  • Donald Day

    I am outraged and appalled a black police officer would stoop to this level of bigotry and ignorance. What is more reprehensible if it is found to be true, the President of the Guardians Lonnie Blackwell would advise a member of his Brotherhood to commit this reprehensible act. My hope is the actions of these two fools don’t diminish the legacy, the hard work or the gains of the Bridgeport Guardians, that as an organization were only about inclusion and doing what was right, just and moral. Those Brothers who started the Guardians never meant for it to be an us against them organization, nor one that would serve as a dividing entity among the Bridgeport Police Department. They meant for it to be one that assured people of color on the BPD were given all the rights and privileges its white counterparts took for granted, nothing more, and nothing less.

    This clearly shows anyone can be a President of an organization, but anyone can’t be a leader of an organization and officer Lonnie Blackwell, if found to be true, should be ashamed of himself for his actions as President and for defiling the legacy of such an esteemed organization as the Guardians.

    • Ron Mackey

      Don, this is a damned disgrace on so many levels. How dare Clive Higgins damage the Bridgeport Guardians and the whole Bridgeport Police Department with his action? Let’s say everything Higgins said is true (which I find hard to believe), one would think after Higgins’ court case and the training as a police officer, he would report what was said to him to the police chief and to his attorney in order to protect himself.

      Next, this story will go national like Tom White mentioned. There are so many unanswered questions. The media will go back to the original charges against Higgins and other police officers and the video of them stomping a prone suspect in Beardsley Park in 2011. The Bridgeport PD needs to be investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and the police chief needs to be remove from his position for just cause for not performing his duty as police chief.

      • Lisa Parziale

        Ron and Donald, the actions of a few will never tarnish the reputation of the Guardians. This organization has served with honor, dignity and provided fairness when it was being denied. The actions of this individual does not reflect nor represent the intent of a great organization. Be proud of what you two contributed. So many have benefited by your contributions and all who follow you.

  • Jeff Kohut

    It is imperative to select a new chief for BPD who will be capable of addressing the culture of suspicion and animosity that has pervaded BPD since the latter days of the Walsh era.

    As anyone concerned with public safety realizes, the street officer cannot be effective unless there is basic harmony and cohesion within the rank-and-file of the department. Considering this kind of cohesion and harmony have been largely missing from within the department for decades, it is amazing our cops have been able to manage to forestall a complete, irreversible public-safety meltdown during this time.

    Chief Gaudett must tender his resignation and allow his replacement (from within BPD–perhaps even someone who has retired from BPD ), a person with extraordinary leadership and diplomatic skills, to be appointed in his stead.

    A J Perez has been mentioned as someone who is being considered for the Chief’s position. He has certainly demonstrated the required leadership and diplomatic skills for the job.

    But certainly, in any event, an appropriate, qualified chief, with the necessary diplomatic and leadership skills for the job can be found from among BPD veterans of present-era BPD.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Jeff,
    What is your general opinion of the current configuration of Police Department administration? Do we need four Deputy Chiefs? Should they be union members along with those who report to them or in a separate category? Does this need to be thought through before anything else is done? With Dan Roach working for the City (assumed), he will be leaving the seven-member Police Commission with only four members, only one of which is serving an unexpired term. Any ideas on rectifying this broad broken record of the Finch administration relative to keeping all Boards and Commissions at full strength with current appointments, and while we are at it, performing evaluations of some basic nature? Time will tell.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The actions of a few bad apples don’t reflect poorly on the rest of the department. There’s plenty of shame to go around. Higgins and Gaudett are equally to blame.

    Maybe Meyer can use this as grounds to dismiss Gaudett.

  • Mojo

    *** This ex-cop Higgins should have been fired along with the other two involved in the Park stomping a few years back. Also Blackwell should be fired for his role in a racial letter by using and forging J. Nardozzi’s name on a racist letter pretending to come from the Emerald Society to create a racial division among the ranks. These types of persons are not stable enough nor reliable to be police officers who are supposed to serve and protect the public in Bpt. Lord knows just how many times they may have violated citizens’ rights and cost the taxpayers money from lawsuits! ***

  • donj

    Wow, so Lt. Blackwell might be involved. I respected him when I tried out for the police exam last year. Lost for words right now.

  • Jeff Kohut

    JML: I believe the command structure of the BPD needs to be analyzed in terms of impediments to accountability to the BOPC, the Chief, the Mayor, and the City Council presented by union-represented Deputy Chiefs.

    It would seem union-protected management at the Deputy Chief level could provide undue interference to the rightful authority of the Chief and BOPC, and ultimately, the mayor–the City’s CEO and “buck-stops-here” function of the city government. But these Deputy Chiefs, with their union protection, also provide a level of checks and balances to an otherwise top-heavy system that could act capriciously and arbitrarily (and politically, rather than objectively) toward aspects of tactical and strategic functions that present efficacious efficiencies in department function.

    It would seem the hierarchical structure of other effective departments needs to be examined in terms of comparison to the current Bridgeport model, and certain modifications in hierarchical structure and union constraints on the command chain might be, in that context, appropriately modified through negotiations with the concerned branches of city government and unions.

    But we certainly don’t want a return to the Joe Walsh days of absolute, arbitrary, unaccountable rule from the Chief’s office on down, with the chief’s power even trumping the mayor’s authority.

    I think we want the ranks of the BOPC brought to strength with qualified appointees who will be charged with enlisting the services of appropriate consultants with appropriate experience in law enforcement and city government in this regard. Perhaps the services of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, et al., could be enlisted. The BOPC should work in tandem with the City Council, Mayor’s Office, Chief’s office, and appropriate union representation in coming up with an appropriate hierarchical model of BPD which will allow a new, appropriately selected chief to assume leadership of a force with proper checks and balances on all levels of power, with due consideration of the maintenance of appropriate levels of union protection for the rank and file. It might be Charter changes affecting the structure of BPD will be a necessary consideration.

    But one things is certain: Effective leadership, along with appropriate diplomatic skills, will be needed by the next police chief, regardless of any changes in the hierarchical structure of the Department and its relationship with the City Council, Mayor’s Office, and the BOPC.

    Change is always difficult, but possible if all concerned can perceive long-term benefits from the enactment of changes.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Jeff,
      Thank you for putting some extended consideration into your response. Such issues are part of the knot that has tied City governance up too long without checks and balance behavior. In reality, having issues and concerns manifest themselves publicly and getting talked out in various media is healthy. It can be a sign of different positions within a community that need to be understood, acknowledged, listened to, reflected upon and faced squarely before the decision (political and otherwise) is made. If multiple parties have some responsibility, they should be heard from and then the party with the most “power” acts, or fails to act (knowing there is an automatic process that will produce a desired gain anyway if things are left alone, Tom McCarthy and recent CC ‘inaction’ on salary schedules).
      Will citizen/taxpayer hopes be supported by seeing good choices made for ALL Boards and Commissions with mayoral appointments? Not just the ones listed on City site today? Will the Mission, the Meetings and the Minutes be part of public OPEN and ACCOUNTABLE governance? Will appropriate training and continuing education be expected of members? Will regular evaluations be part of the process? Time will tell.

      • Ron Mackey

        JML, there is no need to reinvent the wheel here because there is a master plan the City has already into what the needs of the police department are. When Joe Ganim was mayor and the city was having financial problems and the state came in to help the City and an outside firm did a job study of every department and the City has the final report on how to improve and save money. The fire department made many of those changes to improve the running of the department. That plan is still here but it seems like nobody is putting it into play.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Ron,
    What you share with us is a most familiar pattern for the City. Secure a consultancy to research an issue or problem, let them engage with representatives of many City organizations appropriate to the study, and come up with a Master Plan that is no one person’s responsibility to carry out. And no quantitative measures are enacted so citizens can easily see from a Department or City web site whether and how the Master Plan is working out. Is it a fault of planning? Do plans allow for appropriate tweaking for changes in facts, technology, and best practices after 15 years or more? Know where a copy of the “dust-covered plan” might be today? Have the plans as they affect different departments been seat cushions for various boards and commissions? Time will tell.

    • Ron Mackey

      JML, a few things. First, during my time on Local #834 firefighter union negotiation committee, the City always had on the table the items from that master plan, now they didn’t tell us where their items came from but we knew because we had the plan so there were never any surprises to us. Next, to your point, I agree with you, it’s a divide and conquer plan here and there’s no one watching the store. People want their trash picked up on time every week, their streets cleaned, the snow removed from the street and the parks kept open and clean. People aren’t concerned about staffing the police, fire, the schools or the budget, they expect other people to do that. Elected people here play on that so nothing gets done and we get the government we have here in Bridgeport. Sad but true.

  • Mojo

    *** What’s next before the end of 2015 and the start of a new year? *** Time to keep in touch with your neighborhood, local politicians, police and fire depts. as well as your local news venues. Being aware of the local events and government planning in your city is very important and affects us all. ***

  • Bob Halstead

    And we can assume you are staying around yourself, Mojo?

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