Frequenting Bridgeport bars delivers added value beyond adequate fluid ounces. They also feature spirited conversations revealing topics of the day.
Last week a group of young people sitting curbside at Brick and Barrel on Broad Street had a pretty good beef going about crime among Connecticut’s largest cities.
“The murder rate in New Haven is worse than Bridgeport,” opined a man from the Elm City. He is right. In fact, the murder rate in both Hartford and New Haven outdistances Bridgeport, Connecticut’s most populous city, this year.
Stamford, Connecticut’s second largest city in population, is in single digits, but it’s a much different animal than the other three.
Bridgeport’s population, according to the latest census figures, is 148,654; New Haven 134,023; Hartford 121,054.
Crime stats can be tricky for elected officials to nuance. You must be selective waving pompoms about comparative crime rates. Ya never know when the next spike is around the corner.
The OIB-centric community naturally gets caught up in the meanderings of the Police Department: crime rates, personality conflicts, rigged testing, labor disputes, racial tensions, technology, staffing levels, deployment.
In Bridgeport, cop house politics is Hill Street Blues on steroids.
Still, it’s not necessarily better in other likewise departments. Read the stories about crime in New Haven and Hartford and it’s quite messy in neighborhoods. Bridgeport is often unfairly hyped by outside media outlets.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker is playing technological catch up.
Buying and installing cameras all around the city should help with that problem, he said. He said New Haven’s public camera system pales in comparison to those in place in Bridgeport and Hartford; he frequently hears from community members that they would feel safer if there were more cameras in their neighborhoods.
The FBI has just released the latest numbers on Connecticut crime stats 2019 to 2020. Overall violent crime was down in Bridgeport, but homicides up 17 to 23. Yet this year, so far, they are trending downward.
“At this time last year there were 18 homicides being investigated by the Bridgeport Police Homicide Squad,” said (Acting Police Chief Rebeca) Garcia. “There have been 15 homicides within our jurisdiction so far this year in 2021.”
Go back 30-35 years and Bridgeport’s inner-city neighborhoods were war zones of murder and mayhem led by the crack cocaine epidemic. Few were spared anxiety including church institutions whose congregants barricaded themselves home to escape the drug gang street violence.
Sixty–yes, 60–murders a year were routine during this period, eventually dropping and leveling off from a number of factors in the late 1990s.
If all goes according to plan, a new police chief will be appointed by Mayor Joe Ganim next summer. The first stop is tapping a permanent Personnel Director, likely in November, to build a timeline for a top cop national search.
Whoever lands the job, it’s no picnic in Beardsley Park no matter the relative statistics and perspective.