The city is expected to formally announce a national search for chief of police in January, a process that is likely to stretch out more than six months.
The last time the city tried this in 2018, the result clogged a messy stew of test cheating, federal charges, two city officials imprisoned, lawsuits, and more than one million taxpayer dollars paid out to investigative firms, outside lawyers and consultants.
Though not formally announced by the city, Acting Personnel Director Eric Amado placed first in the competitive examination to select a permanent applicant to oversee Civil Service, a process managed by the executive search firm retained by the city, CPS HR Consulting.
The city had announced that process would precede a national search for a chief to ensure a new leader of Civil Service would supervise protocols to achieve the short list of three that goes to the mayor for appointment, per City Charter regulations.
In 2018, Acting Personnel Director David Dunn and Acting Police Chief AJ Perez connived the testing procedure, including test questions advanced and tailoring qualifications to benefit Perez.
If any testing process must flash a seamless nature for the city, it’s this one, given the fallout from 2018. The Civil Service Commission may go beyond the basic City Charter requirements to establish qualifications for chief of police.
Mayor Joe Ganim appointed Rebeca Garcia to replace Perez in an acting capacity following his arrest and subsequent resignation September 2020.
See below City Charter language covering duties of police chief, appointment protocols and vacancy requirements:
Section 4. – Chief of Police.
(a) The head of the department shall be a Chief of Police selected pursuant to the provisions of this section.
(b) The chief of police shall be in the classified service and be selected pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 17 of the charter except as follows:
(1) The chief of police shall, at a minimum, be experienced in urban law enforcement, including supervisory experience in the operations and management of a law enforcement agency. Nothing in this Section shall preclude the civil service commission from establishing greater qualifications for the position of chief of police, provided that such qualifications shall not include a requirement of prior service on the Bridgeport Police Department. Any qualification so adopted shall be based solely on the knowledge, skills and experience required for the position and not on the attainment of any rank or ranks.
(2) The examination for the position of Chief of police shall be open to any person possessing the minimum qualifications established for such position regardless of whether the applicant is currently or has ever been an employee of the city of Bridgeport. The examination shall be open and competitive and shall not be promotional.
(3) Whenever a vacancy arises in the position of chief of police, the personnel director shall, upon request, certify to the mayor the names of the three (3) candidates standing highest upon the employment list for such position. If no such list exists, the personnel director shall, within 150 days of the request, hold a test for such position and shall, upon the establishment of an employment list, certify to the mayor the names of the three persons standing highest thereon.
(4) Within sixty (60) days of receipt of the certification required by subSection (a)(3) of this section, the mayor shall appoint one (1) of the persons so certified as the Chief of police and shall notify the Civil Service Commission and the Board of Police Commissioners of such appointment. The mayor may designate the time when such appointment shall take effect, provided it shall not be more than ninety (90) days from the date of his receipt of the personnel director’s certification. Unless otherwise stated such appointment shall be effective immediately. In the event that the mayor fails to appoint a chief of police within sixty days of receipt of said certification, the board of police commissioners shall, forthwith, make such appointment.
(5) The person so appointed shall hold office for a term of five (5) years from the effective date of his appointment but may be removed for just cause. A person holding the position of Chief of police may, only within 150 days of the end of each term, be reappointed by the mayor for one additional term of five (5) years, effective upon the expiration of the chief’s current term, without the need for further examination or testing. Not later than 180 days prior to the expiration of such term the board of police commissioners shall, by majority vote, advise the mayor whether the chief should be reappointed and shall specify the reasons for its recommendation. The vote and advise of the board of police commissioners shall be advisory only and is not binding.
(6) Any provisions of this charter to the contrary notwithstanding, no person shall serve as chief of police for more than ten (10) years not including any time served in an acting capacity.
(7) Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of Chief of police, the mayor may appoint a member of the Bridgeport Police Department as the acting Chief of police. The person so appointed shall possess all of the qualifications established for the position of Chief of police. Any provision of this charter to the contrary notwithstanding, the person so appointed may serve as acting Chief of police until the position is filled as provided in this section.
Section 5. – Powers and Duties of the Chief of Police.
(a) Subject to the operational control of the mayor, the Chief of Police shall be responsible for:
(1) The administration, supervision and discipline of the Police Department including suspension, loss of pay and discharge of members of the department;
(2) The proper care and custody of the property, apparatus and equipment used by the Department;
(3) The preservation of the public peace, prevention of crime, apprehension of criminals, the enforcement of traffic laws and regulations, protection of rights of persons and property and enforcement of the laws of the state, and the Ordinances of the City;
(4) Making all appointments and promotions to positions in the Police Department. The Chief of Police shall be the appointing authority for all subordinate positions in the Police Department;
(5) The assignment of all members of the Department to their respective posts, shifts, details and duties;
(6) Making rules and regulations concerning the operation of the Department and the conduct of all officers and employees thereof subject to approval by the Board of Police Commissioners;
(7) Conducting an investigation and initial informal hearing or hearings in relation to any charges against any officer or member of the Department concerning abuse of power, negligence or dereliction of duty, incompetency, incapacity to perform or some delinquency seriously affecting the Officer’s general character or fitness for office. At the completion of the investigation and hearings the chief shall, forthwith, reported the results of any such investigation and hearings, including the discipline, if any, imposed to the board of police commissioners;
(8) Establishing procedures for the filing and recording of all complaints and the disposition thereof;
(9) Attending meetings of the Board of Police Commissioners as a nonvoting ex-officio member.