Mayor: “We Want To Stop The Violence, But Our Police Department Cannot Do It Alone”

Crime is a pain in the ass to fight when it takes on a life of its own. It impacts neighborhood stability, business retention, business recruitment, and much more. And it’s a bigger pain in the butt when a chief executive is handcuffed by a budget deficit. Mayor Bill Finch doesn’t have the luxury to remain invisible in light of the latest spike in violent crime, with a reelection campaign next year.

Finch and Acting Police Chief Joe Gaudett conducted a news conference on Wednesday in an effort to create reassurance they’re doing what they can. Will it work? From the mayor:

Police Chief Outlines Crime Reduction Plan

Mayor, Chief and Community Leaders Unite in Call to Take Back Our Neighborhoods

Mayor Bill Finch joined Acting Chief Joseph Gaudett today in urging City residents to be more engaged and observant in their neighborhoods and businesses to help the police department reduce violent crime in the City.

“We want to stop the violence, but our police department cannot do it alone. Our plan outlines a community effort to get everyone involved in stopping the violence. Violence should have no home in our city,” said Mayor Bill Finch, during a 5:30 p.m. press conference held at police headquarters on Wednesday.

Acting Chief Gaudett’s three-pronged approach – enforcement, education and engagement, seeks to combat violent crime by utilizing police resources in areas where it’s needed most, educating young people, and engaging the community to effectively “take back their neighborhoods” by forming more Neighborhood Block Watches, and giving police information by utilizing the identity-shielding Text-a-Tip program.

“We encourage everyone to get involved. The chief’s program is an all-encompassing approach, but it requires that the community be responsible for their neighborhood and their young people,” said Mayor Finch. “This initiative is only as good as the community’s commitment to making it work. Continued education for our youth about the dangers of drugs and guns is an important component of this plan, and we will need cooperation from parents and caregivers to drive the message home that violence is not the answer to solve problem or disputes.”

Chief Gaudett stressed the department’s close relationships with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Drug Enforcement Administration as a key component in curtailing the flow of illegal drugs and firearms in the City.

“We need to hear from the community when something happens. If they see something, they need to say something,” said Acting Chief Gaudett. Gaudett explained the Text-a-Tip program the department uses allows the public to text information and remain completely anonymous. (To report a crime or send in a tip, residents can text the word CRIMES (274637) then text 717 in the body of the message and the information.)

Members of the clergy community as well as block watch captains from around the City joined the Mayor and the Acting Chief during the announcement of his crime reduction plan. An important component of the initiative is the institution of “Take Back the Night Walks,” the first of which is planned for Friday, Sept. 3 in a neighborhood to be announced.

“We’ve asked our clergy community to join with us, and we want to encourage residents to take part in these walks, to show everyone they are not afraid to be out and about in their own neighborhoods,” said Mayor Finch.

The Chief and Bridgeport Housing Authority Executive Director Nicholas Calace also announced details of a gun buyback program which will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 2. The program will be administered by the department’s Community Services Division with initial funding of $5,000 provided by the BHA which will be used to provide gift cards to local businesses to those who turn in a gun.

“Getting guns off the street is the most important goal,” said Mayor Finch. “All it takes is one gun in the wrong hands. We hope to see the kind of success that was seen in a recent buyback program in Los Angeles,” said Mayor Finch. A recent buyback program in L.A. resulted in police there taking more than 2,500 guns off the street in one weekend last May.

“Today’s announcement by Mayor Finch and Chief Gaudett is an important step towards finding a solution to the gun violence in the City of Bridgeport,” said Nicholas Calace, Executive Director for the Housing Authority. “It is important for the residents in public housing and our entire city to know to combat this type of criminal activity involves every one of us. We are pleased to play an active role to help families feel more secure.”

Upcoming events:

Gun buyback program opens on Thursday, Sept. 2 at 10 a.m., at the Police Community Services Division, 1395 Sylvan Ave.

Take Back the Night Walk – Friday, Sept. 3, 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. in a neighborhood to be determined.



  1. Call to Take Back Our Neighborhoods

    Mayor Bill Finch joined Acting Chief Joseph Gaudett today in urging City residents to be more engaged and observant in their neighborhoods and businesses to help the police department reduce violent crime in the City.

    “We want to stop the violence, but our police department cannot do it alone.”

    What a JOKE, the mayor and the police chief call this leadership? Who will protect the person who makes that phone call about crime that is happening in front of their apartment or home?

  2. Nancy Hadley is a ‘Wiener.’

    So much for Economic Development when a small business can’t do business where they feel would be more profitable. Nancy Hadley has joined the “Snitch” club by filing a complaint with the city against a Downtown Hot Dog vendor. This I say is the kind of things that inspired Lennie with the Phrase Only In Bridgeport. Nancy your shirt with a Big ‘S’ in the middle will be in the mail soon.
    This reminds me of Dick Blumenthal and his rich family. While Blumenthal talks about creating jobs and economic opportunity, his family is opposing the construction of a 67-story building near the Empire State Building which they own. The construction of the new tower will create much needed jobs and tax revenue for New York City. I would also give Empire State tenants an option to move there if they can’t get a better rent deal from the Malkins.
    Worse yet, Nancy reminds me of when I was 8 to 10 years old shinning shoes at La Plaza de Colon in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The City set aside a small side-street where shoe shiners could only do their business. The street was small and one had to get there early to get a spot. The older and bigger guys would force me out of my spot because they felt it was their spot regardless of the time they got there.
    I fought harder than any council member to stop the vendor ordinance proposed by Auden Grogins, which is probably the ordinance Nancy is trying to have enforced. It was wrong then and it is wrong today. I urge mayor Bill Finch to look into this matter and do the right thing by allowing the vendor to stay put. This should not be one of those issues that takes ‘long’ to resolve; it should be done in a “Snappy” of a finger. Wiener, anyone?


  3. *** Bpt’s DTC-endorsed loser LAMONT, let’s see who else they all decide to endorse in the near future that’s not in the city’s favor? *** Who will be the next puppet master pulling the strings in city hall? *** Join the “coffee party” & be prepared for the political jolt! *** BACK TO BASICS ***

  4. Text A Tip. Wow how innovative. What happens if you are text illiterate like me? Who do I call?
    The plan does not say where the officers are going to come from. Is this going to be the same SET unit they are using now?
    It looks to me like they are setting the public up to take the blame for the increase in crime if they don’t participate in the block watch program.
    Smoke & Mirrors Pure & Simple.

  5. I had an interesting conversation about crime the other day with a gentleman who opened my eyes to a fact that I had been missing in this equation. Many of the 18- to 27-year-olds who are committng these crimes are the children of “Crack Heads” if you do the time line it was about 25-30 years ago that the “epidemic” was in full force. Those children were subject to conditions never before experienced. I’m wondering if I can learn something about the effects of growing up under those conditions from a person with no academic experience on the subject, shouldn’t those “leaders” be as well informed? I would suggest before you establish a “plan for success” you learn the origin of the problem.


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