The next chief of police will come from within. The executive search firm hired by the city to shepherd a national process has forwarded the names of three finalists to the Personnel Office and Mayor Joe Ganim–Acting Chief Rebeca Garcia, Captain Lonnie Blackwell and retired Captain Roderick Porter.
All three will have their supporters and detractors in this final phase.
Information flow has been extremely tight in this process to eliminate influence due to the last chief search in 2018 in which former Chief Armando Perez was imprisoned for conspiring to rig the testing process.
Garcia has served as acting top cop since Perez’s resignation about two years ago. Friction has existed between Garcia and Blackwell who believes she has marginalized him in the department via transfers. He has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Garcia.
A federal judge recently dismissed a complaint against the city by Porter who asserted he was discriminated against because of race when Perez and Garcia were promoted above him to leadership positions. Porter finished in the top three during the last police chief search four years ago.
The City Charter empowers the mayor to appoint a chief among three finalists to a five-year contract approved by the City Council. The mayor can renew the contract for another five years. The chief is termed out at 10 years. Same goes for the fire chief.
Former Acting New Haven Police Chief Renee Dominguez finished in the top three but has taken a position with another Connecticut police department. That move elevated Porter to the third position.
The internal politics of the Police Department is a soap opera on steroids. Garcia critics view her as a rigid disciplinarian who metes out sanctions unevenly against Black officers and remains insensitive to community engagement. Her supporters argue she plays fair damn the political consequences, especially after the 2018 test rigging. She’s not involved in city politics.
Blackwell supporters say of the three he beholds the most community outreach.
Porter has impressed in the last two chief searches finishing in the top three. He arguably maintains the lowest profile among the three.
As Ganim ponders his selection, the three finalists will be introduced to the community following a 30-day appeal period pursuant to the Civil Service requirements of the Bridgeport City Charter, according to a city news release.
“Mayor Ganim will announce in the coming weeks a public process that will unfold following the 30-day appeal period, which will include community, stakeholder, City Council, and administration input prior to his final selection.”
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) retained by the city to supervise the search received 27 applications, 19 candidates made the cut for the second phase.
A minimum score of 75 percent was required to pass each part of the application process, according to a news release recently issued by the city. Candidates who passed part three will be listed in rank order on the established list.
Ganim is likely about two months away from announcing his selection.