Lieutenant Bailey To Chief: Send Me Back To The Streets

No one’s more in tune with Bridgeport’s streets than William “Ron” Bailey. As violent crime is back in the news (hopefully not for long), the Bridgeport Police lieutenant knows all too well the horrifying violent crime rate from the mid-1980s into the early 1990s: 50, 60, 70 murders a year fueled by a crack epidemic controlled by drug gangs. Bailey, the former vice squad cop, has scars from fights with crackheads as a physical keepsake of the times.

The leading symbol of the arrogance in those days Mariano Sanchez had built a ruthless drug empire called “The Number One Family.” St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in the West End became the flashpoint for violence in the city.

As I wrote in my book Chased, a biography of Bridgeport crimefighter Billy Chase, Monsignor Francis Campagnone and Father Nick Villamide were taunted ruthlessly by the gang members in the fall of 1986. They pelted the monsignor with eggs, blocked his entrance into the parking lot of the church. Helpless neighborhood citizens were beaten, roughed up, shot at. Many neighbors were captives in their homes as streets became drug markets for buyers. One day the monsignor stuck his phone outside the window of his church so the cops could hear the gunfire.

It led Mayor Tom Bucci to call for a community meeting at the church to address neighborhood concerns. Gang members had the temerity to taunt the mayor and police from the back of the room and leave packets of cocaine and human feces on the floor of the church bathroom. Bucci wasn’t convinced, with all the crime, murders and violence, he had the local resources to take out the drug gang. He arranged a meeting with then U.S. Attorney Stan Twardy, members of the local field office of the FBI and Connecticut’s Drug Enforcement Administration. In front of about 20 federal agents Twardy assured his office would make an unprecedented showing. Twardy and federal agents were true to their word.

Billy Chase and Bailey were key local law enforcement officials who worked with federal agents to bring down loads of bad guys and bring some peace to neighborhoods. Bailey is now working inside police headquarters overseeing sick and injury management. He’d have no problem going back out into the streets. In fact, he wants to go back.

Now almost 60, Bailey is a freak of nature, a master of Korean martial art tae kwon do, who relies on workouts and his faith for a stress-release appearance 20 years younger. He entered the Bridgeport PD in the same class as Joe Gaudett, now the city’s chief, nearly 30 years ago. Bailey is a maverick tough guy who does not come across as a tough; his approach is more cerebral, but not bashful about voicing an opinion. Some time ago he beefed with police union leadership over a host of issues. He responded by resigning from the union. Sometimes, he says, the guy with the seniority isn’t the best for the job. So it generally goes with union collective bargaining.

Bailey says the violence we’re seeing today doesn’t match the worst of  25 years ago, but the trend is definitely there. The big difference, he says, is the violence from the drug trade then was more organized. The key is to make sure they don’t become organized.

He has several ideas he’ll be sharing with the chief in an effort to help calm city streets following five murders in four weeks, the latest casualty a former New Haven cop with a history of issues with the law. Bailey says curtailing violence must be addressed on many fronts; economically, socially, politically and governmentally. He talked the other day about the need to bring back in earnest the city’s Stop, Walk and Talk program where cops learned the neighborhood and built contacts.

A major part of the problem, Bailey asserts, is economics. “When people are homeless, hungry, out of work, they do desperate things.”

It would be easy for Bailey to pack it in, retire, take his pension. He’s one of those guys who wouldn’t know what to do with himself. He needs to stay busy. Which is why if asked by the chief he’d return to the streets to try to restore sanity. “I support the chief,” says Bailey. “If he wants me there I’d prefer to be there.”



  1. I remember those days. Really scary. A similar meeting happened on the East Side in St. Joseph’s Polish Catholic Church. All the drug dealers were in the back taking notes to get even with those who participated.
    Chief Sweeney should be given a lot of credit for dealing with that problem. There were a lot of unsung heroes, too. A lot. We can’t let it get back to the way it was then. I think neighborhoods are stronger now so I don’t think it will. We do need a resurgence of grass-roots organizations though, not the NRZs that are run mostly, not all, by City Hall and the DTC.

  2. “No one’s more in tune with Bridgeport’s streets than William ‘Ron’ Bailey.”

    What an understatement! Tell that to the police officer shot in P.T. Barnum a few years ago or the officer who was sitting in his patrol car while two suspects shot the hood and windshield of his patrol car. Tell it to every officer who had to approach and apprehend suspects with loaded guns or those who have been on the streets and never on a permanent desk assignment.
    Lennie never interviewed a single drug dealer to write about the other side of the stories or tales told to him by Billy Chase and church officials. Why was it since 1980 there was a mistrust of the Catholic Church by many in the Clinton Avenue or West Side areas? The Catholic Church scandal and past revelations is a hint to the answer.
    I don’t recall any mention of the fact one of those major drug dealers stung by Billy Chase was the son of Tom Bucci’s secretary. The book doesn’t mention one drug dealer who was bigger than Mariano and even supplied him at times. This is the one who set up his Colombian supplier after getting pinched. Remember the day a group of New York Colombians went to make a delivery of five kilos (as I recall) and when they walked into a room at the Howard Johnson they found themselves face to face with Police Chief Joe Walsh?
    Here’s a trivia question for you Lennie:
    Who was that drug dealer (bigger and worse than Mariano Sanchez) and what political figure was he related to?

    1. Joel, were you that big drug dealer? You’re inaccurate here on so many accounts including the folks I interviewed for my book that told “the other side.” What were your activities when Billy Chase put his life on the line? We both know the answer.

  3. Check this out! How many cases will be overturned due to this ruling? What affect will it have on current investigations where GPS had been used to gather evidence and information? If a criminal uses a phone with GPS technology and he or she changes the phone, would the warrant have to be a roaming warrant? Sounds like a law-enforcement nightmare.

  4. Joel: Normally, I let people have their recollections and be done with it. But your descriptions of the situation on the West Side in the 1980s do not reflect the reality of what was going on, or what was reported in The Bridgeport Post-Telegram. The situation was, if anything, worse than what was reported, and the newspaper did not duck reporting about it. Were you friends with that street gang or what? They were some of the baddest of the bad guys.

    1. Callahan, I was born in PT Barnum and raised on the West Side. You think a few lines is a description of the 1980s–It’s the Post-Telegram you’re describing. Around 1985 or 1986 the paper did an exclusive story and there was only one person who dared to do an interview which was supposed to keep me anonymous. The reporter described me to a tee and put me in a position in which I had to protect myself and hold my ground. My balls are what kept me alive. Just to give you a glimpse of the cause of some of the shootings involving the Sanchez group. Just to name two, Ruben Ramos and Crazy Eddie were two armed and dangerous individuals who enjoyed robbing Mariano’s dealers at gunpoint. This is what prompted many of the dealers to arm themselves and counter the threat of people like the two mentioned above. To give you an idea of how dangerous Ramos alone was, go back to a revenge killing of a 12 year old with the last name of Sandoz on George Street. The target was his father who was not home at the time, so Ramos, Bello and another man decided to shoot the three kids in the house. This was to avenge the stabbing death of one of the killer’s brother by the father of the Sandoz children years before. Not you, Lennie or anyone else can tell me who was the baddest of the bad guys. I’ll admit I was among the baddest of the good guys stuck in a fucked-up environment.

  5. *** Overseeing abused sick time and injury claims has gotten boring and also unpopular with union members, no? So how ’bout it Chief, send Bailey “back to the future!” ***

  6. Bridgeport Police Chief Joe Gaudett has Lieutenant William “Ron” Bailey working inside police headquarters overseeing sick and injury management. What kind of leadership is that from Police Chief Gaudett when he has someone like Lieutenant William “Ron” Bailey not on the “streets” of Bridgeport?

  7. We don’t need to “protect” this asset by stashing him behind a desk. He is ready, willing, available and he has the goods. Let’s bust out the “Louie Vuitton” umbrella Bridgeport because it’s raining.

  8. This is a quote from the Bridgeport Police Department … “When times are desperate, desperate people do desperate things.”

    A lot of desperate people are doing a lot of desperate things on the streets of Bridgeport in these times of desperation.

    Chief, why in God’s great name have you not reinforced the patrol division to make a bigger presence on the streets?


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