From city Communications Director Brett Broesder:
This week, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch gathered members of his staff to discuss efforts to build community relationships and support young people in order to avoid situations similar to the recent events that have occurred in Baltimore. Among those in attendance at today’s meeting were Jorge Garcia, Director of Public Facilities, Lamond Daniels, Director of Neighborhood Initiatives, Deborah Caviness, Director of the Small, Minority Business Resource Office, and Christina Smith, Director of Central Grants.
“Why I called you here is to prepare a response to what’s happening in Baltimore so that sort of thing never happens here,” said Mayor Finch. “We want to make sure our youth are engaged and feel empowered. We want to all talk to each other and communicate so we make sure that we keep everyone safe this summer. And we want to make sure that everyone knows about the opportunities and the jobs that are being created here in Bridgeport so that we don’t see that same level of frustration.”
Mayor Finch has reached out to fellow U.S. Conference of Mayors member Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore’s Archbishop William Lori, formerly of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
“We’ve already made outreach since last night to our clergy and to some of the organizations that are doing work with young people in the neighborhoods,” said Daniels. “The mayor’s office will be meeting with a variety of folks to get their thoughts and ideas and help to strategize how we can bridge this disconnect that we’ve seen since Ferguson and up until now in Baltimore. We’re looking forward to a rich conversation to talk about how to keep things safe, keep things peaceful but also provide opportunities for our community to be heard.”
Mayor Finch noted that Bridgeport has the most diverse police department in the state of Connecticut. He added that his administration has taken great steps towards making the police department even more diverse through its most recent recruiting efforts. The Meriden Record Journal’s editorial board recently applauded Mayor Bill Finch and the Bridgeport Police Department for its diversity and recruitment efforts. This comes at a time when crime in Bridgeport is at historic lows. It also has seen the largest decrease in violent crime over the past decade when compared to similar sized New England cities.
“The ’90s was a tough time. Crime was high. As a high school student at that time, I remember the struggles,” said Garcia who is also a Bridgeport native. “Being able to be in the position that I am in now, and working closely with the mayor being able to help transform our parks is fulfilling. You get to see the children get out there and take advantage of the opportunities that we have.”
Garcia noted the work that Mayor Finch has done to make significant upgrades to the North End Little League baseball complex. Construction of three brand-new, state-of-the-art turf fields is on target and on time for the North End Little League’s Opening Day.
Ø Click here to read more about the North End Little League’s new fields: bit.ly/1HS92W5.
In addition to the new playing fields at North End Little League, Garcia also mentioned the reconstruction of new basketball courts throughout the city as well as the opening of new splash pads and playgrounds this summer.
“We’ve also recently been awarded for having the most innovative security systems at our parks in the nation. We’re creating safe havens at our parks for Bridgeport kids,” said Garcia.
Mayor Finch spoke about the new businesses that are moving to Bridgeport. “We’re really excited to welcome all of these companies to Bridgeport. Classic national names, Starbucks, Chipotle, Bass Pro Shops, Sports Authority. Now the next step is to get some internships, some summer jobs for our kids.”