Ganim Condemns Acting Chief Garcia’s Handling Of Police Response Involving Recent Deaths Of Young Women, Two Detectives Placed On Leave, Garcia Mysteriously Absent

With Acting Chief Rebeca Garcia inexplicably away, Mayor Joe Ganim on Sunday ordered the administrative leave of detectives assigned to the deaths of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls, pending an internal review, cases taking on national significance involving law enforcement and media white-black bias.

In both situations, tardy police notification has been decried by family members of the respective losses in December, following dates with men.

Curiously, at the height of the national media blitz, Garcia is mysteriously absent from the department until Thursday taking personal time. Garcia did not specify the reason for her absence in a department memo. Deputy Chief James Baraja is in charge, pending her return.

Ganim recently announced a national search for a new permanent chief with an expected completion date late summer. Ganim tapped Garcia as temporary top cop following Armando Perez’s guilty plea for rigging the 2018 top cop test. He was recently released from federal lockup.

See current Police Department Death Notification policy.

Statement from Ganim:

I again would like to express condolences to the families of Lauren Smith-Fields, and also to the family of Brenda Lee Rawls.

I want you to know that I am extremely disappointed with the leadership of the Bridgeport Police Department and find actions taken up to this point unacceptable. After reviewing the matters even more closely and in the absence of the Police Chief, I have directed Deputy Chief Baraja to immediately put on administrative leave the two officers who are the subject of a Bridgeport Police Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) Investigation and disciplinary action for lack of sensitivity to the public and failure to follow police policy in the handling of these two matters.

To be clear:

In addition, the supervisory officer who was in charge of overseeing these matters has retired from the department as of this past Friday.

The Bridgeport Police Department has high standards for officer sensitivity especially in matters involving the death of a family member. It is an unacceptable failure if policies were not followed. To the families, friends and all who care about the human decency that should be shown in these situations in this case by members of the Bridgeport Police Department, I am very sorry.

I want to be clear to members of the public and the department that insensitivity, disrespect in action, or deviation from policy will not be tolerated by me or others in this administration. My disappointment and demand for accountability in these and any other matter brought to my attention will remain until all the questions are answered to the satisfaction of all.

It should also be known that the untimely death of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls are both under active investigation and have been reassigned to members of the Bridgeport Police Department for resolution.

I want to thank Attorney Crosland, and the families, and the thousands of others for reaching out asking the questions that needed to be asked and that still need answers. I as mayor, but also as a father, cannot fully comprehend what you must be going through. I can only pledge my continued support to try to ease your pain by getting answers and holding those responsible accountable.



  1. Now ain’t that a bitch, Joe Ganim is trying to take the spotlight off of his sorry ass leadership. “I offer my support in bringing closure to the family during this terrible tragedy,” Ganim’s statement said.

    “First, sensitivity and care is of utmost importance when working with the family of a victim,” Ganim’s statement said. “There is no tolerance for anything less than respect and sensitivity for family members and their loss. To that end, this matter has been referred to the Office of Internal Affairs to conduct a full and fair investigation.”
    Now, here comes Johnny-come-lately Mayor Joe Ganim out of the dark, always leading from behind.


  2. After all the chaotic mess at the BPD during AJ’s term without any strong statements from the major, it’s hard to take him serious on this matter. Some people felt disrespected by some members of the police department. File a complaint and move on. Here are two incidents of untimely death. The responding officer writes his report and a detective takes over. When detectives do their part of the investigation a report is written up and the case is turned over to the Chief Medical Examiner’s office. At this point the matter is off the BPD hands and all correspondences should be made to the Medical Examiner’s office. I’m sure that these weren’t the only bodies handled by the CME on that day and I’m positive they’re busy. More attention is being given to a few egos being hurt than to the Fentanyl epidemic. How many people in Bridgeport have overdosed in just the past 2 years. How many bodies are handled by the Medical examiners office monthly. Why is it that the sole responsibility of notifying next of kin seems to fall on the BPD? When is the mayor going to take an interest in the Fentanyl epidemic Bridgeport has been facing?

  3. Ron Mackey and Joel Gonzalez you’re both the “bomb.” The common sense and knowledge you both possess make it difficult for anyone to be hypercritical!

  4. Lenny reports that Acting Chief Garcia is “inexplicably away”. Really? A terse note informs us that Assistant Chief Baraja would be in charge during her absence (how long? vacation? Conference? sickness? Mental Health time?) and specifically would supervise overtime, was read at formations from 4:00 PM January 27, 2022.
    Her action might be in reaction to realizing that the Mayor’s latest Police Chief appointment timetable would not allow her to qualify for the current list based on some education requirements?
    But our PD lost a ranking member of the Police hierarchy the next day to retirement as well, though the name has not been reported, the leadership team is stretched.
    Above, two other personnel, both detectives have been set down by Mayoral instruction to Acting Chief Baraja and placed on Administrative Leave which indicates……..Are there one or more members of the leadership in the BPD also out on similar leave at this time? Where does this leave the PD most vulnerable?
    With the DEA and other outside investigative forces already attending the factual development that should have followed the TWO December 12 deaths, will our “national search” be a secret to those qualified and able, or will it be a further warning?
    What does an appointment and continuing reappointment of persons to the Police Commission indicate? Care that the people of Bridgeport are faithfully “served and protected”? Or that there is little or no responsibility for adults as commissioners to exercise, so learn to be silent?
    Who is the party responsible for Internal Affairs? What training specifically makes one eligible and qualified? What is the current caseload? With whom do they communicate and what are the range of consequences they can administer?
    It appears that last week, the bodies of two young men, including Jose Rosario of Bridgeport, were discovered in a neighboring town at the site of a high speed crash. Sources reported word of a high speed police chase preceding the crash. Has a connection been made with info known to the Bridgeport Department about pursuit of a vehicle at high speed? What is policy for such activity today? What activity Good to review an understanding.
    On January 10, 2022 a list of 327 Bridgeport Police officers appeared on the City site including 178 white men and women, 49 black men and women, and 93 hispanic men and women. Of those identified as detectives, whites made up 37, blacks include 1, and 10 are identified as hispanic. Do the relative numbers of racial populations, or specifically those in the Detective force cause concern anywhere in the City for policing?
    If the City in general, or the PD specifically ignores the role an annual performance employment
    review might have for following written policy, practice, or procedure, and hierarchy does no direction towards training opportunities or ways to improve policing to those under their direction, where does truth and frankness find an outlet before exploding into unprofessional conduct and suits against the City? How much more time will we wait for Mayor Ganim to become TOP COP in title as well as action? Time will tell.

    1. Quick question John. Out of the 327 officers at least 50% of them are new recruits under G2. What is the racial demographics break down since Ganim took office? I know the was a 100 officers pledge when he started in 2016 I always remember the new classes be pretty diverse. How many of the 49 black men and woman and the 93 Hispanic , as well as of the 173 whites were hired under G2?

      Just looking for some perspective. I’m accutually curious though, Were there less or more blacks and Hispanicis cops on the force before G2?

      Burns the tapes. 🙂

  5. I have only the one current document as a source so I cannot honestly and fully answer your question about the demographics of the department upon Ganim’s second coming. However, before his second attempt to make Bridgeport great again, the PD likely included more hispanic than black officers in my memory..
    About the 100 officer pledge and early pictures of classes, we must be aware that the City school trains officers who will serve in other communities and those trainee numbers are not published regularly on the City site. Also we must be reminded that deaths, disabilities, and retirements are not the only reason for a decrease in force numbers. Increasingly since COVID 19 we are made aware of resignations, many to posts in other towns.
    Is no one surprised by the information that the Bridgeport Police Department has listed only one black detective? Of course the January 10, 2022 chart at the City site does not display the PD data like the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report does, which is by breakdown of total department force into sub-headings like Traffic, Patrol, Detective and so on. Why isn’t basic info supplied in a manner that readers find helpful or useful? Time will tell.

    1. Thanks, I think. I will take your memory passively that the BPD had more Black and Hispanic officers before G2’s attempt to make Bridgeport great again, considering you alluded to Trump’s campaign slogan, MAGA. We know where in our collective memory that goes.

      I do recall G2 making an effort to oust a white Police Chief, to be replaced by a minority, Hispanic. Although it didn’t go well. However, wouldn’t that progress in the “struggle” against white supremacy in America? Yet the criticism continues. That’s the current political game though. It’s is surprising that only one black officer made Det.

      I have a hard time believing the Port had more Black and Hispanic officers on the PD under Finch prior to G2. Most of the new recruit replacements were because of retirement, It would mean the Port’s PD had over 50% Black and Hispanic in its ranks in the mid-1990s who retired under G2.

      It’s too bad you can’t access that data. It seems this has been an ongoing topic of discussion, and the Port’s demographic was much whiter back then too. However, I have little doubt in my collective memory that the racks of Black and Hispanic officers increased in the Port PD under G2. JS

      Now the actual officer level may be lower under G2 prior to his reelection in 2015, 327 seems low, even when G2 ran in 2015, but I don’t know.

      Anyway, peace out people, I was curious about that, still am, I guess. 🙂


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