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NAACP Chief: Cop Recruitment Disappoints Reflection Of Community, Finch: City More Diverse Than Other CT Cities

March 23rd, 2015 · 32 Comments · City Politics, Law Enforcement, News and Events

Following a government recruitment drive to hire police officers who reflect the makeup of the city, the new head of the local NAACP George Mintz expressed disappointment in the numbers. As of Tuesday, 1,013 candidates had met the testing qualifications, according to a story by CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart. Of those, 139, or 14 percent are residents. Of the 1,013, 560, or 55 percent are white; 233, or 23 percent Hispanic; and 152, or 15 percent are black. Meanwhile Mayor Bill Finch asserts the city’s racial, ethnic and gender makeup is more diverse than other Connecticut cities.

George Mintz, new head of the city’s reconstituted branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, expressed some disappointment with the recruitment numbers.

“I would have liked to have seen those numbers reflect the community of Bridgeport,” Mintz said Friday. “I think the numbers tell a story and we need to find out what it is.”

Full Lockhart story here.

Seeking a third term, Finch is touting the lowest violent crime rate in 50 years. This police recruitment is also an effort to hire more city residents and rebuild the lowest staffing levels in decades that have dipped below 400. Police Chief Joe Gaudett prefers staffing at 447 officers.

But Finch administration critics such as retired city firefighters Ron Mackey and Donald Day, both past presidents of the Firebird Society that fought for racial balance in the Fire Department, assert the city has lost its way hiring police and firefighters who reflect the makeup of the city that could be 75 percent black and brown.

Finch argues Bridgeport’s public safety is the most diverse among Connecticut cities, but adds it’s still not diverse enough.

According to a police staff demographic breakdown provided by the city, among the city’s total 394 officers, 89 percent are male, 11 percent women; among them 56 percent white, 15 percent black, 27 percent Hispanic and one percent other.

City Communications Director Brett Broesder says candidates with all completed testing requirements as of March 17 mirror the current makeup of the city force and could exceed it. Says Broesder:

“With over 2,000 applications in, we’re optimistic that we’re on track to have an applicant pool that is more representative of our community. But as of last week, more than half of those who applied had yet to complete all of the necessary requirements. With today (Sunday) being the last day to apply, we’re encouraging everyone who has submitted an application to become a Bridgeport police officer to double-check their application and ensure that all of your credentials are in.”

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32 Comments so far ↓

  • Ron Mackey

    Bridgeport having the most diverse police department In Connecticut has NOTHING to do with Mayor Finch, the numbers for this exam are just like all of the past entry exams for police and fire since he has been mayor. Where is the outrage from the Guardians, the IMA, State Rep. Rev. Stallworth, George Mintz and the NAACP? Nothing, they have all been silent and this is nothing new with these results. If Mayor Finch did what Donald Day and myself suggested years ago to hire only residents of Bridgeport, the taxpayers who pay those salaries. The only way this will change is by bringing in the Justice Department.

  • The Phantom

    Ron. There can’t be outrage from the Guardians. The President was in charge of the recruiting. He gobbled up all the overtime and the city has a low pool as a result of the greed. Great job! Taxpayers pay for nothing. How nice. Time to go, Finch and Gaudett.

  • The Phantom

    Call the Chief’s office and find out the overtime paid to him to recruit such low numbers.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Are they saying only 139 candidates are from Bridgeport? Something is wrong with their recruiting effort. The question is did the Guardians and others really work in the right areas to recruit candidates.

  • Donald Day

    Mayor Finch continues to put the black community’s desire for jobs in the police and fire in the hands of David Dunn who has never run an effective recruitment drive. Fewer blacks and women have been hired under Dunn’s leadership than any other Director of Civil Service in the last 40 years. Nor does the leadership of the Guardians posses the knowledge to run an effective recruitment drive. They seem to think all you have to do is give a black kid an application and you have recruited him.

    The leadership of the IMA nor the NAACP have never reached out to Mackey or myself to ask our opinion on running a successful recruitment drive or why this endeavor would fail and these entities are busy courting favors from the Finch administration than protecting the rights of blacks to serve this community.

    No police or fire department in the country has ever had a problem recruiting white males for those services so why would there be a need to recruit this demographic? There has been a concerted effort at the hands of Mayor Finch and David Dunn to exclude blacks and women from the police and fire service and the NAACP, the IMA and the Guardians have and continue to be asleep at the wheel to the detriment of the community they have pledged to serve.

  • Donald Day

    Andy, you are absolutely correct when you say there is a serious problem when only 14% of those taking the test are Bridgeport residents irrespective of ethnicity. That goes to show you no one involved knows a damned thing about recruiting. If that 14% is competing against 86% of out-of-towners then we could easily surmise Bridgeport residents don’t have much of a chance to be police in the city in which they live, pay taxes and were educated.

  • BARF

    If the City’s goal is to make the departments reflective of its community, the simple answer is to just limit it to City residents. Simple fix.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    For over 100 years candidates for the police and fire departments came solely from the city of Bridgeport. There were always enough candidates and both departments were professional.
    I am not sure if it was changed by Dunn or his predecessor but it was changed and is supported by David Dunn and the current head of civil service commission who has served for 11-plus years and lives in Trumbull. There are 147,000 people in this town, do they want us to believe everyone has a better job than the police and fire departments offer? I don’t think so.
    BTW there is no federal or state law that requires the city to open up its hiring to all communities, if there were such a law Dunn and company would have used it already.
    There is no law that prohibits having a maximum age for recruits. It used to be 38 but now if you are 50 and pass the physical you can be hired. Show me a 65-year-old who can outrun a 20-year-old. Plus THE PENSION SYSTEM CANNOT HANDLE THESE PEOPLE ALMOST ALL OF WHOM RETIRE BEFORE THE 25-year period that is normally required to retire.

  • Milkman

    Diversity is an admirable goal in the hiring process, although I believe the ultimate goal is to place the best qualified people at a reasonable cost into the positions we seek applicants for. We need to ask ourselves why are the current highest-scoring police recruits not reflective of the Bridgeport community? The answer strikes me with painful clarity. The children of Bridgeport and many other inner-city school children have not been receiving the same quality educational opportunities their contemporaries have in area towns. The land of opportunity doesn’t apply to the majority of Bridgeport citizens. I’d love to blame an individual such as our mayor or governor, or maybe even our president for the inequities of our current systems. There are no such simple solutions. The people (you and I) need to lead our government on these issues. A concerted effort to eradicate poverty, mandate a proper education for children (we have 12 years, let’s go for the bronze and mandate 14) and provide universal healthcare are achievable goals that will provide more diversity across the board in years to come. We the people do have control over our politicians and political processes. We simply need to speak up and have our voices be heard. They can and should be much louder than the hollow voices of deep-pocket special-interest groups.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Ron and Donald, are the police entry exams oral? If they are then there is your answer. Most orals are subjective and give the scoring individual a lot of leeway. Having written a promotional exam for a local city that was 100% oral I can speak from experience.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Milkman, you can blame the governor(s) mayor(s) and politicians plus the current and former members of the BOE.
    The kids in the inner cities have been ignored for years. We can see school monies going to towns that really don’t need it. We can see the federal government and the state government coming up with all types of BS testing. We can see the state and others come up with new math that makes no sense, tell me why a student much explain on paper why 2 x 2 = 4. Ridiculous BS. Go to any big-box store where most of the kids working the registers are from the suburbs and watch them try to make change even though the register tells them what it is.
    We teach the same crap in high school we did 50 years ago and wonder why our dropout rate is 60%.
    We mainstream every kid no matter what their problems are and this is another big reason we have problems, the teachers are forced to deal with these troubled kids at the expense of others.
    Getting back to recruitment for the PD, I think it was a piss-poor job by whoever did it. If it was the Guardians they are too busy trying to elect a president. If it’s the city we already know the answer.

  • Donald Day

    Andy, the process being implemented by Dunn is the reason blacks aren’t doing well after 40 years for police, 36 for the fire and 31 years for women. The system is being manipulated by Dunn and not the IMA, not the NAACP or the Guardians are asking why can’t blacks and women pass these exams under Dunn when they have been doing it for 40 years?

    If the city wanted to fix the problem they know the answer is getting rid of Dunn, but that won’t happen because the Mayor is running civil service and its bank account from city hall.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Donald, what is the process?

  • Donald Day

    One of the biggest problems is the fire and police have members of their department sitting on the oral boards and helping to write and grade the exams that are given to the potential candidates. These are friends of friends they are grading. Prior to Dunn they would bring in firefighters from other states to sit on these boards. These people didn’t know anyone and for the most part were unbiased with no favoritism. Those boards were culturally diverse and civil service made a concerted effort to recruit and hire blacks and women.

    That effort cost the city a few extra dollars, but the desired results were a more ethnically diverse department and more city residents.

  • Ron Mackey

    The City has received federal money to give these entry-level exams in the police and fire departments and they must follow certain procedures like US Uniform Guidelines on Employees Selection Procedures. This is the bible on hiring and testing.

  • DonTito

    To be clear, you have a few Uncle Toms working in the fire department in the training division and one was Rooney’s wannabe captain and one is a current DC who agreed and testified before civil service and stated the current fire testing process was good including the CPAT. And there are probably a few Uncle Toms in the PD too. I’m sure there are a few Tío Tomáses in both as well. How do you think Carfi passed the DCF test? He has been kissing Rooney’s ass since they worked together at 3-4′s. Really!

    Some LA County Firefighters Face Discipline in Admissions Cheating Scandal

    Last month, an LA county audit found evidence fire exam questions were being shared with applicants by relatives in the department, implicating as many as 50

    By Patrick Healy and Christina Cocca

    The Los Angeles County Fire Department is creating a new admission process after having to respond to evidence of nepotism and favoritism in accepting applications. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (Published Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015)

    Updated at 11:22 PM PDT on Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015

    Some personnel in the Los Angeles County Fire Department will face discipline for possessing and sharing confidential information that may have enabled relatives or others to cheat on the hiring process, and that process itself is undergoing significant reform, Chief Daryl Osby said Wednesday.

    An audit last month by the LA County Auditor-Controller found 27 sworn department personnel had information from a previous admission exam in their email accounts. Seventeen of them “disseminated these materials to others, including to non-County email accounts.” according to the audit. It also identified three candidates who received copies of oral interview questions and answers before their interviews, “which compromised the integrity of the exam process and provided these candidates with an unfair advantage.” One of them, a fire captain’s son, was later hired.

    Follow-up investigation cleared many, but not all of those implicated, and a number could face discipline as severe as dismissal, according to Osby. He said notification letters will be sent in two to three weeks.

    “While the numbers show that cheating was far from endemic or widespread, I absolutely will not tolerate any behavior that undermines the integrity of our department,” Osby said. “We can’t afford the actions of a few to erode the public trust that has been hard-earned by generations of county firefighters.”

    Reform of the admission process has been in the works since 2012, Osby said, a year after he became chief. Early on he saw potential for abuse of the exam system, Osby said, but evidence of actual violations did not surface until late last year. It was uncovered in a Los Angeles Times investigation.

    This week, the department is conducting its first written examination to screen applicants since 2011. All who applied and supplied the required certification of physical agility were invited to take the two day exam. In years past, as few as 5 percent of applicants were permitted to continue to the exam process. Wednesday drew 4,511 applicants to rows of tables set up inside exhibit halls on the grounds of Fairplex in Pomona. The exam resumes Thursday morning.

    To develop and handle the new written exam, the department hired a private company, PSI Services, LLC. The exam papers were delivered to Fairplex in an armored truck, and Sheriff’s deputies maintained security.

    For NBC4′s full interview with Chief Osby, watch the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m.

    The test has fresh questions and will not be used again to prevent questions and answers from being shared with later applicants. Previous versions recycled some questions, and one exam format was used nine times over four years, according to a department statement.

    Beyond the release of the confidential exam material, the audit found additional evidence the field was not level for all candidates, concluding some may have had access to test preparation assistance “that was not available to the general public. The assistance included mock interviews and preparation guide.”

    “Say if you were somebody just off the street and didn’t have anybody you knew that was a firefighter. You may or may not have had access to the proper study material,” said Osby during an interview with NBC4.

    In advance of the current written exam, the department website posted study materials online, a further effort to equalize access.

    Those who pass will move on to the oral exam, where the concern was greatest about the limited number of questions being supplied to relatives. The new oral exam will come in 16 variations of four questions drawn from 50 possible questions.

    For the first time, the department is also in the process of developing a formal anti-nepotism policy, intended to preclude personnel from involvement in hiring, promotions, performance evaluations, or disciplinary actions involving family or significant others. It’s expected the policy will be ready for issue early next month.

    Published at 5:06 PM PDT on Mar 18, 2015

  • Tom White

    Perhaps the Bridgeport community would benefit from the mayor’s ministry of public enlightenment putting some effort into explaining the application and testing process, rather than nonsense about Bridgeport getting better every day. The numerous postings here do not provide a solid explanation, but rather bits and pieces of opinion and conspiracy theories.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Tom, I think my postings are accurate and do point out the problem.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Don and Ron, how does the city get away with using department personnel to administer the oral exams?
    Oral exams are too subjective and can be manipulated to get the desired results. I am surprised neither the Firebirds nor the Guardians took this to court.

  • Donald Day

    Tom, I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m not offering conspiracy theories or opinions, I’m giving you facts. It’s a fact that fire department personnel sit on the oral boards, that they did help write the questions and did in fact grade this exam. It is a fact that this did indeed compromise the integrity of the exam and I was told this by a member of the fire department who helped write, administer and grade the last exam.

    Andy, the Firebirds contacted the DOJ and asked for a complete investigation of the civil service department and our letter was published on OIB and the CT Post.

    What I would like to see happen is the NAACP, the IMA, and our black politicians ask the questions, was this done, why was this done and why the city would change the hiring process that has worked for 30 years prior to David Dunn becoming Director of Civil Service. If an investigation arm of the DOJ or any other Federal entity asked me who said what and when I would be obliged to tell them under threat of perjury and let them talk to fire personnel, Chief Rooney and Dunn under the threat of perjury to see who’s lying.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    I do not wish to see members of the clergy, NAACP and our black politicians asking questions on a subject they don’t know or understand. Maybe senior black fire officers and senior white officers from other departments should administer these tests.
    Civilians should not be grading these tests and firefighters should not be giving these tests or writing the questions.

  • Ron Mackey

    This is from the New York Times, March 18, 2014:
    New York Settles Bias Lawsuit Against Fire Department

    On Tuesday, that long fight to diversify the overwhelmingly white department came to an end with an agreement to settle the case and pay nearly $100 million in back pay and benefits to minorities whose efforts to join the department were thwarted by what courts have ruled were institutional biases.

    This is the direction Bridgeport has been traveling with their fire and police entry level exams.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Here are the members of the civil service commission:
    Eleanor Guedes, President (U)
    Term Expires: 10/1/2011

    T. Walter Plummer (D)
    Term Expires 10/1/2009

    Richard P. Rodgers (D)
    Term Expires: 10/1/2010

    *Salvatore Emanuel, Employee (*Elected member)
    225 Lighthouse Avenue
    Stratford, CT 06615
    Term Expires: 10/1/2018

    It appears all the terms are expired with the chairperson residing in Trumbull. What amazes me is the employees’ representative is from Stratford.
    This is where the problem for the PD and FD starts. Two of the commissioners live out of town so they would be leaning towards out-of-town eligibility. At least three of the commissioners are from minority groups which tells me Dunn and the mayor have a heavy hand in this recruitment problem.
    Finch can replace all the commissioners this afternoon except the employee rep and install new commissioners if he wants. He doesn’t seem to want to change this bad practice.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Bill Finch claims many things.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Andy,
    But hasn’t the Mayor taken a stand in one of his recent talks about the ethical performance of City government? If members of Boards and Commissions do not have a responsibility to certify annually (or at time of change) to legal residence, to existing interests that may cause conflicts in the future performance of duties, to having paid taxes of whatever kind to the City and be up to date, then perhaps they should not be re-appointed.

    Just saying, you can talk about ethics, but it is much better to do ethics and force each member of the team to comply. You have a better reputation. Perhaps trust begins to build over time. You can mandate training and carry out evaluations and still remove people when terms are complete. However, bad practices must be seen, interrupted, and prevented from recurrence. Any sign of that today? Time will tell.

  • Ron Mackey

    This is just as bad as having City employees serving on the City Council.

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    These examples of steering exams and leaking questions read like a prime example of instutional discrimination. Will this city and country ever stop this covert practice?

  • Donald Day

    Thank you, Jennifer. I was beginning to think nobody got it, but you certainly have. Not only when will it stop, but why was it allowed to start again after the millions of dollars it cost Bridgeport in the past.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      Most white people I know do not consider themselves racist. It’s always the other person or group of people or political party. I have come to recognize it is our basic government institutions that promote subtle and effective discrimination at the core, and this thread is a prime example. Until a person understands and recognizes this, we are less than we can be as a country and as humans.

  • Donald Day

    Very well said Jennifer, now you’re going to make me reevaluate my opinion of Republicans. I’m now going through a period of agonizing reappraisal because of your post. Thanks.

  • Lisa Parziale

    OMG, the issue of “conflict of interest” is rampant in all areas of government in this city. The two most important departments, Police and Fire are being compromised because of “immoral” practices by this administration. I’m not being political by pointing to the leadership that is in power now. These revelations are so damning to us as a City, and if we don’t get this information out to the residents who may not be aware of the seriousness of what is happening, it will continue, and if possible, get worse.

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