Rebeca Garcia Makes History As Assistant Police Chief

Captain Rebeca Garcia stands after the City Council approved her letter appointment to assistant chief.

The City Council Monday night approved the appointment letter of Captain Rebeca Garcia to assistant chief that elevates her the highest ranking Hispanic woman in department history.

The vote was 18 to 1 with new councilor Maria Pereira the lone no vote. Pereira said she is not opposed to Garcia’s qualifications but expressed concerns about the lack of paperwork provided to the council in a timely fashion to consider the matter as well as arguments that the promotion to second in command should have involved a competitive process.

City Council members with Rebeca Garcia

Ernie Newton, co-chair of the Contracts Committee, backed Garcia’s qualifications for the position. Council members and Mayor Joe Ganim gave Garcia, who sat alone quietly at the back of a sparse council chambers, a standing ovation after her approval. She stood to thank them. She will be issued the formal oath on Wednesday by either Ganim or Chief AJ Perez. She has served as head of the training academy.

Police chief and assistant chief, the two top police positions, are the only ranks not affiliated with a collective bargaining unit. Garcia’s starting pay will be $142,425.

Ganim and Perez announced Garcia’s appointment on November 25. The position has been vacant since January 2016 when James Nardozzi was removed in a department shakeup after Ganim’s return to the mayoralty. Nardozzi sued. The city and Nardozzi have come to terms on a settlement that also requires City Council approval.

Associate City Attorney Mark Anastasi told council members the settlement with Nardozzi does not involve his reinstatement.

Former Mayor Tom Bucci, a labor relations legal specialist, is representing several high ranking police officers who assert the assistant chief position should have been a competitive process, something Anastasi refutes.

Lynn Kerwin became the first woman appointed assistant chief in 2009. Robert Mangano was the first to serve in that capacity. He passed away in 2004.



  1. What say you Police Union President Chuck Paris, is Rebeca Garcia a dues paying member and is this assistant chief position still a union tested position and what is your union position on this issue?

    1. Ron
      When the Civil Service Commission and the City Council Created the position of Assistant Chief of Police, the position was placed in ( aka allocated to) the non-competitive division of the City’s classified civil service and are not underor affiliated with a collective bargaining Unit Unlike Deputy Police Chief which are under a collective bargaining union and must go through civil service process.

        1. Ron
          I don’t know i will try and find out i’m sure when civil service and city council put this position together a job description qualifications and selection process was included because she’s not the first person to server in this position my understanding was she would be the first hispanic woman to serve as Assistant Chief of Police. This position was created before my time.

          1. Ernie, I asked you what are the qualifications and selection process to get promoted as the Deputy Chief because as for Captain Rebeca Garcia, I’m sure that she’s a highly qualified and a good police officer but Captain Roderick Porter was one of the top three finisher when the police Chief’s exam was given where Mayor Ganim promoted Perez to the chief’s position and again Captain Roderick Porter is totally overlooked by Mayor Ganim for the Deputy Chief position.

            Captain Lonnie Blackwell is the first African American to run the regional academy. He attended chiefs school and all leadership schools such as PERF which is Police Executive Research Form. Captain Blackwell is well rounded and extremely qualified. Captain Blackwell holds a masters degree in Criminal Justice and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and has taught at the collegiate level as a professor for several years. So again, I asked you what are the qualifications and selection process to get promoted as the Deputy Chief?

          2. Their are NO qualifications….. The city picks who they want….. well it was that way, we will see how Bucci does in court. Sad day when qualifications don’t matter in an important job like this one. Should be interesting…… She’s gonna do what AJ NEVER could? STOP OVERTIME? Doubt it….. Better men have tried and were run out of town. Hey Nardozzi?…….

          1. I specifically asked in the Contracts Committee if Captain Garcia would be making history if she was appointed as a woman as Assistant Chief.

            Both she and other City Council members said she would be the first female Assistiant Chief.

            Are you saying that I was completely mislead and/or lied to?

          2. Tom,
            Captain Garcia was a BPD officer and we have a number of City Council Members that served from 2009 and beyond. If she was appointed as recently as 2009 she likely served until 2012 when Assistant Chief Nardozzi was appointed in 2013. This didn’t occur decades ago.

            Both Captain Garcia AND City Council Members told me she would be the first FEMALE Assistant Chief in Bridgeport’s history.

            I don’t appreciate being mislead and/or lied to.

  2. My moneys on Tom Bucci.
    Why not create the position of Deputy Dawg and not make a part of the bargaining unit and not make it civil service and eventually you will have a department of Deputy Dawgs. He know how the mayor has no use for unions.

  3. It appears as if both Captain Rebecca Garcia and Chief AJ Perez were both chosen over more educated and qualified Black candidates! When is not taking the best qualified candidate an option and does the BPD and the city suffer when you keep accepting mediocrity.

  4. At the Contracts Committee I attended I asked for critical information I needed to make a knowledgeable decision.

    I wanted to know if Rebecca Garcia was paid all her owed personal, sick, vacation and “compensatory time” what would the cost be to taxpayers? I also asked what the cost would be if it was paid out in November 2023 which the Letter of Agreement was stipulating to. In addition, the letter stated as Assistant Chief Rebecca Garcia would no longer be able to earn “compensatory time.”

    If Asst. Chief Garcia could no longer earn or accumulate “compensatory time” why would we pay out compensatory time she had already accrued at the highest rate possible in 2023?

    How did any of this benefit overburdened taxpayers? Why was Chief Perez paid out ALL his accumulated time at the beginning of his stint as Chief?

    Co-chairs Ernest Newton and Jeanette Herron committed to find out.

    1. Yes Maria, you were misled…..
      just an FYI,
      Garcia SHOULD be paid out at Captains pay for her accrued time BUT, just like AJ, she’ll be paid out at Chiefs pay… Special people get SPECIAL TREATMENT….. It’s the way of the world……

      1. Frank

        That is my point. I also question the accrual of ANY compensatory time when compensatory time is not referenced in the police contract or TA. EVERY reference in the contract references wages and OT.

        My initial assessment is that Chief Perez has been allowing compensatory time, likely to help hide is absolute inability to control OT, even though it appears to be in violation of the contract and CT state law.

        1. Comp time “in lieu of OT” has been offered since the beginning of time. All Chiefs offered it, not just AJ. HOWEVER, starting with him, one wondered how he could have made $180,000 a year and still had a $300,000 payout…. That’s easy! He was the clerk for years and the clerk is the one who keeps track of the Comp time owed to every member. He/or she is the one who adds or subtracts to the comp total.
          So FYI, O’Donnell has been clerk for 5 years. She gets OT and also pass her comp time owed. You may want to keep an eye on that because I suspect her payout to be astronomical.
          Go one step further and request the total comp time owed for every member (individually) so that you can make sure that it doesn’t get “fudged”……….. I should write a book…..

          1. Frank,

            What is the basis for ANY compensatory time when it is not codified in the Police Union contract as required in the statute that Attorney Anastasi provided?

            The potential abuse of tracking “compensatory time” is another reason I am completely opposed to it.

            If the point of “compensatory time” is that instead of being paid OT you will receive time off instead why the hell are we paying it out at retirement?

            Doesn’t that defeat the entire point of “compensatory time?”

  5. I received my City Council Orientation on Wednesday evening and was scanning the City Council Rules when I notice Rule XIII section 15 states the following:

    ” All references to any Committee by any city agency, board, commission and/or employee MUST include an executive summary or transmittal letter that sets forth the following data if and so applicable:
    (d) deadline for approval and basis for same.
    (g) financial impact analysis to include best reasonable estimates as to all expenditure and revenue effects of the reference if approved as requested.
    (j) draft proposed motion(s) for City Council adoption and concerns over potential litigation due to non-competitive hiring process.

    I did not have the Letter of Agreement with me but believed none of this required information was provided to the Contracts Committee.

  6. The next morning I read Brian Lockhart’s article which stated Rebecca Garcia had received over $60,000 in OT in 2018 as a Captain.

    As someone who has worked in retail management we were trained and required to understand CT Labor Law because you interview, hire, evaluate and terminate employees without a HR Dept.

    In CT, all hourly employees can only be paid in wages. Salary employees may be eligible for compensatory time but the point of a salary position is generally when you work additional hours; that’s why you get paid the “big bucks.” I have personally ever seen a position that was compensated with both OT and compensatory time.

    I emailed Ernie Newton and Jeanette Herron on Thursday, December 12, 2019 at 2:39 PM. reiterating the request for the payout information and added two additional requests which are as follows:

    1) Is Captain Rebecca Garcia an hourly employee?

    2) if she is an hourly employee receiving overtime pay how could she possibly be owed for “compensatory time?”

    I had already viewed the Police Contract on the city website and the most recent expired in 2016. I then visited Labor Relations and asked for a copy of the existing Police Contract.

    Although the City Council approved a “Tentative Agreement” on May 20, 2019 the actual contract had yet to be drafted, approved and signed. The “TA” expires on June 30, 2021 and the current contract has yet to be completed. In addition, although the City Council did not approve the TA until May 20, 2019, Mayor Ganim had already signed the TA a full month earlier on April 20, 2019. That was shocking to me.

    I read the entire contract that ended in 2016 and the current TA and every reference regarding compensation is about “wages” not “compensatory time.”

    I also found 4 years of salaries by position and steps which indicated EVERY Police Officer in the bargaining unit was an hourly employee entitled to overtime all the way upto Deputy Police Chief.

    As of Monday, December 16, 2019 at noon I had still not received a response to my questions.

    Tom Gaudett sent an email to the co-chairs stating that Janine Hawkins was working on the data and that it would be sent that afternoon.

    As of 6:00 p.m. I had yet to receive the requested and required information. At approximately 6:30 p.m. I asked Ernie had he received it and he stated he had not.

    Tom Gaudett arrived and I asked why the information had not been received when we were expected to vote on promoting Rebecca Garcia within an hour? He stated it was emailed to the co-chairs at 5:00 p.m. Ernie was unaware of it, but it was located in his email.

    There was a 21/2 page email response from Mark Anastasi.

    I was stating to Aidee and Ernie that the matter should be postponed to our next meeting on January 6th and since the position had been vacant for three years and no deadline was identified in the summary there was no reason to rush into this decision.

    Aidee graciously offered to caucus and Ernie supported it so we did.

    1. Yes,
      Garcia was one person who would not let you work an hour of OT , but she was working 7 days a week sitting in an office making OT. A good supervisor takes care of their workers first, then themselves. It’s sad that qualifications mean nothing in BPD. So sad….

  7. Almost everyone entered the Caucus and now we were all given a copy of Attorney Mark Anastasi’s email responsive for the first time.

    I raised the issue of the non-competitive process and the potential litigation as well as the fact that in 2013 a national competitive search was conducted before Nardozzi was appointed to the very same position which lent credence to Attorney Bucci’s claims.

    Attorney Anastasi also referenced ” CT Gen. Statute Sec 7-460c, which provides that notwithstanding the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-76b to 31-76j to the contrary, any municipality may, BY CONTRACT, agree with municipal employees to provide overtime compensation in the form of compensatory time, in lieu of overtime pay, at a rate not less than one and one-half hours of compensatory time for each hour worked in excess of the maximum workweek of such employees and in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended. Accumulation use and payment for compensatory time (in lieu of overtime) is a long-standing past practice(based upon the collective bargaining agreement between the City and the Bridgeport Police Union and its interpretation and application)”

    I cannot NOT find any language in the contract that expired in 2016 or the TA that references “compensatory time.” EVERY reference is to wages and OT pay. I believe ANY use of compensatory time in the BPD for union members is completely illegal.

    If we paid Captain Garcia all her accumulated time now it would cost the following:

    Vacation – $12,500
    Sick- $37,780
    Personal – $1,724
    Compensation Time- $9,599
    Holiday- $3,930
    Holiday Bank- $40,279

    Total $105,813

    The next answer was to the question what would be the cost to taxpayers if all this accumulated time was carried over into the highest salary possible in November 2023?

    Attorney Anastaso wrote this lengthy convoluted response that could not possibly be read in Caucus during debate.

    Everyone thought he had provided the answer to the actual question when they went out and voted but he hadn’t.

    He listed the cost as follows:

    Vacation- $15,886
    Sick- $48,013
    Personal- $2,191
    Compensation Time- $12, 199
    Holiday- $4,382
    Holiday Bank- $44,918

    TOTAL $127,591

    There City Council Members saying “it’s only $22,000 more” which I found outrageous.

    If you owned your own business and had to pay your employee an extra $22,000 and it had to come out of YOUR pocket would those say people say ” it’s only $22,000 more?”

    Well here is the kicker, that figure is NOT the cost of the payout in November 2023 when the contract ends. It is only the cost if we paid out all the accrued time right now at the rate of the position of Assistant Chief.

    At a conservative increase of 2% annually this exact same accumulated time will cost taxpayers $135,402 instead of $105,813 which is an additional burden to taxpayers of approximately $30,000. Let us not forget that Asst. Deputy Garcia will continue to accrue personal, vacation, sick and holiday pay over the next three years.

    It is for ALL of these reasons that I recommended in Caucus that the matter be postponed into January 6th. No one seemed to be really concerned about these numerous issues, therefore I had no choice but to vote no on this matter.

  8. Lol!!! This is exactly what I expected. Maria will take most of them to school. When I was involved in the politics of union and how things related to the city etc, I found that many people just plodded along and did their individual parts following what they were told by people who were already in place or who had served before. Or, as in Bridgeport’s case, just do what they’re told Whether it was contracts, pension boards, city charter etc. no one really knew precisely how things were supposed to work. The city lawyers knew and of course they used other people’s ignorance to take advantage especially if the politicians asked them to do things in a particular way. I went to seminars and learned how to navigate the system using the rules which were in place. Point being when you READ the city charter, the 1938 FLSA rules that govern labor, the declarations of trust etc etc you find out that doing your business based on the status quo is most times not according to the exact rules in place.
    Maria: you go lady!! They will hate you for being right….but, what else is new!!
    Rock that boat.

    1. Frank, that’s some funny shit that Maria post but it’s sad and true. Janine Hawkins the Labor Relation Director, David Dunn and Hamilton Burger are the main three people who are responsible for this madness. The only way to make changes is voting, by electing the same people with the same mindset nothing will never change, City Council members main job is to get reelected without any opponent in the Democrat primary, that’s their only fear so Mario Testa protect them as long as they go along with Mayor Ganim, there is no need to question anything because for the City Council members the name of the game is to get reelected follow the yellow brick road.


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