Update: Media was ultimately allowed in. By invitation only, Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration has solicited about 50 city stakeholders representing clergy, business, social services and other groups to a meet and greet session on Thursday at the Margaret Morton Government Center with the three finalists for police chief, current Acting Chief AJ Perez, Captain Roderick Porter and New Haven Assistant Chief Luiz Casanova. It is not open to the public or members of the media.
The luncheon session is scheduled to start at noon and last until about 3 p.m.
“Each candidate will make a brief presentation that outlines their experience, qualifications, policing priorities, major public safety issues and challenges, short and long-term plans for urban policing and their vision for Bridgeport’s Police Department,” according to the email notification. “You will have the opportunity to ask each finalist to expound on these or other relevant policing topics or concerns.”
The plan is to roll in each candidate individually to approximate 40-minute sessions.
Why not make it open to the public? City officials want to alleviate concerns that the candidates and/or stakeholders could be intimidated by media presence or parties who could be disruptive such as groups opposed to the selection process. Bridgeport Generation Now, a critic of the current police leadership, has pressed Ganim for more inclusiveness.
It’s dubious, however, that three veteran police officials who have loads of experience dealing with media, crime scenes, neighborhood rallies and protests would be intimidated. The same for invitees many of whom could easily load their impressions on social media pages in real time or afterwards.
So journalists will be assigned, according to the plan, to an adjacent room to ask questions when the event ends.
Ganim recently announced the process that took place leading to a vetting of the three finalists.
Per regulations of the City Charter approved by voters 30 years ago the mayor selects the chief from the three finalists to a five-year contract. The contract may be renewed for one more five-year term. Prior to that the city’s top cop, formerly known as superintendent of police, had been selected solely via the Civil Service testing process. Whoever finished first on the test rising through the ranks got the job essentially for life.
Perez, given his friendship and loyalty to Ganim, is the front-runner.
To view backgrounds of finalists click on their names: