Juggling Lower Crime Stats In The Face Of Violence

Opponent temptation on a purely political level justifies ridiculing Mayor Joe Ganim in light of the latest shootings, considering his campaign assault on Bill Finch a year ago following spikes in violent crime. There’s also a big difference. When violence occurred a year ago Finch was more interested in trotting out the latest crime stats than addressing the immediacy of the victims. African American voters, in particular, recoiled at the incumbent reciting lower crime info in an election year than showing concern on their behalf.

Yes, Ganim has ballyhooed lower crime stats including comparatively lower five murders this year from the last, but what he has not done is posture defensively, as Finch had, every time violent crime had forced Finch in front of a camera. Oh, Finch said over and over crime has never been lower. Really? Another person shot and Finch preened things were better.

In fact, in June of 2015, the day following the horrific shooting in Trumbull Gardens, Finch was scheduled to formally announce his candidacy for another four-year term at Captain’s Cove Seaport. Everything was set in place, the invitations, the balloons, the party operatives, the handouts, the big-ticket contributors to glorify things getting better every day. Ganim was like a chihuahua biting at Finch’s heels, showing up at every violent crime event showing concern. Finch’s campaign team just didn’t get it. But then two hours before Finch’s scheduled announcement his Chief of Staff Adam Wood told the mayor it would be nuts to announce his candidacy a day after nine people were shot. Finch pushed back: so what? Let’s do it anyway. Wood pushed back harder. Okay, Wood responded, here’s the narrative. While you’re announcing for mayor asking for votes and money, Ganim will be conducting vigils throughout the city on behalf of the victims. The announcement is off. Otherwise your mayoralty is finished.

Duh, Finch responded, now that you put it that way …

Finch’s mayoralty would indeed end in a September primary, but he lost to Ganim largely on the law enforcement issue, particularly in precincts where African American voters believed their mayor did not care about them.

Good, bad or ugly more than a decade ago, I had the privilege of serving as campaign strategist for both Joe Ganim and Bill Finch. Governmentally, they both have their strengths and weaknesses: Finch, an incurable policy wonk with extravagant ideas; Ganim, a relentless negotiator who doesn’t like you knowing what he’s thinking.

Often, violent crime is beyond a mayor’s control.

Here’s a major difference between the two: Finch could rarely step outside of himself wondering what the electorate was thinking. Ganim has the sensible ability to understand it’s never smart to cite crime stats in the face of neighborhood violence.



  1. People considering crime abatement/suppression strategies for places like Bridgeport need to think in terms of the POTENTIAL for violence and extreme public-safety contingencies. And, for a city that is broke and is the state’s largest, poorest (maybe a little less poor than Hartford) and most underfunded in a broken, rudderless state, there have to be proactive crime-prevention and crime-suppression measures in place that anticipate crime and suppress eruptions of crime before they evolve and gain momentum.

    Of course as everyone knows, the best way to prevent and suppress crime is through jobs and opportunity. People who have a decent standard of living and hope for a brighter future are likely to avoid being involved in criminal activity that might jeopardize their prosperity and future prospects. People who perceive a future think and plan ahead and govern their behavior accordingly. So the two highest priority items for elected and appointed leadership at all levels of government need to be, I. jobs-creating, jobs-sustaining economic development/commerce. (“It’s the economy, stupid!”) II. Public-safety capacity.

    Presently our local, state and federal leadership are not just doing a terrible job with economic development/jobs creation, they are taking us in reverse with the accelerator pushed to the floor. There simply aren’t words to describe how stupid and wrong-headed the leadership (at all levels, elected and appointed) of Bridgeport, the State of Connecticut and the USA have been in their handling of economic development and jobs creation during the past six decades. At the local level, opportunity has been avoided and squandered per the eagerness of Bridgeport leadership to kiss political ass at the regional, state and national levels. State level leadership has been inept and clueless in this regard since the election of Eisenhower. At the national level, Washington has squandered our prosperity and exported our means of prosperity and well-being to countries that are better suited for exploitation, pillaging, and plundering (by US-based, multi-national corporations) than the home front. The well-being of the masses has been traded for the obscene wealth, power and opulence of the few.
    Because of this, there are many “Bridgeports” in the USA that serve as a market and base for the huge illegal trade and its violent crime, which creates a huge need for hugely expensive public safety measures at all levels of government.

    On the public-safety side of the coin, things can only be described in terms of an unaffordable but valiant effort at all levels of government by all public-safety agencies to maintain order and safety in the face of an ever-evolving, ever-more-threatening, ever-growing and expanding, diverse criminal/terrorist threat, largely fueled by drugs/drug$ (as well as oil$, in the case of the terrorist threat) in a catalyzing, sustaining sociological context of unemployment/poverty.

    In Bridgeport, it is the drug gangs. Young people who would no doubt rather have jobs and peaceful prosperity to look forward to, have only a poverty-stricken, jobless future to look forward to, through a rear-view-mirror legacy of unemployment, privation, and institutionalized dependency. (What a shock that our underfunded schools are having such a hard time turning out optimistic, job-seeking/job-ready graduates!)

    So here we are, nurturing an urban population of disenchanted young people with no real hope of ever catching a glimpse of the American Dream through legitimate means, and we wonder why we need a hugely expensive, unaffordable, untenable public-safety capacity.

    But while we tread water and hope something will stimulate government to do its job and create an environment that will encourage and accommodate economic development/job creation, we have to do what we can to maintain public safety in Bridgeport. Toward that end, we can design and implement an Internet-accessible video-surveillance system that will allow safe, 24/7, “virtual” block watch patrols via (created) healthy, neighborhood block watches overseen and working inn conjunction with a well-staffed, well-organized, philosophically-resonant (in terms of mutual, police-City hall-community buy-in wrt to the community policing program) community policing effort. Currently, Bridgeport is still in avoidance mode in regard to the video-surveillance system, as well as the Community Policing initiative, which has only been getting lip service since the Fabrizi Administration (the latter of which did an outstanding job growing and refining the Community Policing/Block Watch program).

    So as long as we have upside-down economic policies at all levels of government, there will more and more mindless, gratuitous, drug-gang-related violence in all of the “Bridgeports” in the US. But with our Bridgeport being in the most upside-down state in the US, we are likely to be for a very rough ride for the foreseeable future. Better get those block watches and the Internet camera system up and running, Mr. Mayor! And better talk to Hillary now about a few hundred $million for more police officers and police OT.

  2. Finch was not defended, and neither should Ganim be. This is Bridgeport, this is the job. Learn the lesson Finch did not. Speak less, act more. No excuses, by anyone.

  3. Another long-term solution to fixing the situation is to make Bridgeport’s schools the envy of Fairfield County! We need our schools to be glowing beacons not only for traditional schools but also resource centers with the personal to help at-risk students. Trade schools for those students who have skills in things other than books. Before school/after school programs to keep kids engaged. If our educational situation were better we could begin to take on the violence and poverty Bridgeport suffers from and show there is a future, and a world larger than our city.

  4. Ganim wanted this issue. He wanted to be the caped crimefighter. He mocked the Finch administration. He opened his make-believe police substation. He repaired the fence that was the cause of the shooting spree. He held press conferences, attended vigils.
    Now he is mayor and now is the time to truly take ownership. Get back to rotating the Deputy Chiefs along with a plan to eliminate or reduce the positions. Eliminate or suspend some of the specialty units, i.e. Mounted Police, Segways, Bike Patrol, etc. to concentrate on more important parts of crime fighting, community policing, crime prevention.
    If we cannot get rid of Chapman, have him focus on the above type of issues until his contract runs out.
    Do something Joe, would ya?

  5. I voted for and supported the mayor change in November. Part of the reason was he wasn’t supported by the state and fed representatives, almost being like an outsider. I did think at some point he would have his folds, cave-ins and on-knees situations. What I didn’t forecast is Mayor Joe G becoming the full-time bitch-boy for the state and feds government. When the mayor and the police dept. ask for assistance from the feds and not the state you have to think if the three stooges, Blum, Murphy and Himes forced the FBI and ATF into Bridgeport’s affairs. Are Mayor Joe G and the Police personnel qualified to perform their jobs or is the invasion of the DOJ’s FBI and AFT part of the feds controlling local police departments?

  6. In the 138th District in the last three weeks, my neighbors had two tires stolen off their car in their driveway overnight and left on cinderblocks.

    A woman who ended up in Waterbury Hospital claimed she was raped in Nob Hill.

    We had 13 people shot in the JFK precinct.

    One man was shot in the buttocks over the weekend on Priscilla St.

    And now the CT Post is reporting a burglar was caught by a homeowner on Beverly Drive yesterday and captured him until the police arrived.


  7. Try this, get all the cops who are on administrative duty back on the street. It has been too long as it is. You put together a group of cops and you go hard and heavy hitting all the corners and all the places where people just hang out. People are comfortable carrying guns. Why? The passing police car is just that, passing. Stop and frisk worked right up until they appointed a new mayor in New York. I say bring it here. The bad guys aren’t afraid to carry a gun; that dynamic has to change.

    Put the fear in these guy who want to just stand about on the streetcorner or loiter in hallways or corner stores. If you are not standing on a corner you will not be a random gunshot victim.

    Put the fear in these criminals when they see a police car they are hauling ass so they don’t get caught carrying so much as a joint.

    Have the cops hit the corners and toss every swinging dick there. Do it again and again until these assholes get the message.

    The gloves have to come off and the cops have to take back the streets. Tell the cops for every gun they take off the street they get a week off. Two guns two weeks and so on.

    Some say these tactics may be too harsh. Thirteen people shot at once, isn’t that too harsh? Look at all the shootings that took place since that one! What has been done to catch the shooter or shooters?

    Is it going to be another one of the numerous shootings that go unsolved?

    Hit all the drug spots, tell the dealers they will not sell so much as tupperware.

    Go hard and heavy with motor vehicle stops, people who want to walk on the street and not on the sidewalk. Crack down on bicyclists too, these folks ride reckless and wreak havoc on the streets, too.

    You want to put the fear in people and make them think twice about carrying a gun, joining a gang or dropping out of school.

    Now Chief Perez and Mayor, cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!!!


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