In First Year Back, Ganim Juggles Police Leadership, Low Cop Staffing

Perez swearing
Ganim issues oath to Chief Armando Perez.

Joe Ganim’s political comeback in 2015 was punctuated by a bit of déjà vu. In 1991, the Democratic candidate against Republican incumbent Mary Moran, he carved out a campaign message that focused on strengthening an understaffed Police Department fighting historic violent crime as well as restoring fiscal sanity with a city in bankruptcy court. As Ganim marks his one-year anniversary comeback to the mayoralty this week, we’ll examine his first year and prospects for 2017 in the areas of public safety, finances, economic development, education and government reform.

Public Safety

On the 2015 campaign trail Ganim was a one-man riot squad castigating incumbent Bill Finch on public safety. Sometimes you can make your own good fortune in campaigns but timing and luck were certainly on Ganim’s side, buoyed by Finch’s campaign gaffes. A wave of violent crime, particularly in the Trumbull Gardens housing project, galvanized a Ganim message to beef up the strength of the department, increase patrols and open a police substation. In the final days of Finch’s mayoralty, a gesture viewed as sticking it to Ganim, Finch handed Police Chief Joe Gaudett a new five-year contract. Gaudett had warred on a number of fronts with the police union whose membership had overwhelmingly supported Ganim’s comeback. Ganim had announced on the campaign trail he would not reappoint Gaudett. Finch threw a grenade into his plans.

Joe Gaudett
Joe Gaudett resigned as chief to accept consulting deal with city.

One of Ganim’s early actions as mayor, after receiving the oath of office December 1, was the hiring of former chief Wilbur Chapman as “senior adviser for public safety” at a rate of roughly $128,000 a year, working out of the mayor’s office. Observers viewed Chapman whom Ganim appointed chief during JG1 as a hatchet man who’d help Ganim reorganize the Police Department as they pondered removing Gaudett to replace him with Ganim’s long-time friend and supporter Armando Perez.

Under a charter change approved by voters more than 25 years ago, the police chief can serve up to two five-year terms ultimately selected by the mayor. The second five-year contract represented a financial package of more than $600,000, an expensive transaction for a complete buyout. Lawyers in the City Attorney’s office commenced negotiations with Gaudett for a partial buyout of his contract or in lieu of that a consulting gig. It was decided as long as they were required to pay Gaudett, they should make use of him. By mid-February a deal was struck with Gaudett for him to oversee the Office of Emergency Management and the Communications Division. In exchange he would resign as chief once the contract was approved by the City Council. Under the terms of the agreement Gaudett will receive $125,000 per year for three years with two option years.

On March 1, Gaudett resigned. Ganim then installed the genial Perez as acting chief. Critics of the move observed Ganim was paying three chiefs in some capacity. A major law-enforcement obstacle for the new chief is a sorely understaffed department that was roughly 90 sworn officers below the 440 or so considered prime operational strength when he assumed command. In September a new class of about 30 was sworn in. Another class of approximately 30 is also underway, but can the new recruits keep pace with retirements or other officers recruited by area towns offering more money and benefits?

Paris, Ganim
Police union leader Chuck Paris, on campaign trail with Ganim, wanted Gaudett out.

In the spring, living up to a campaign pledge, Ganim announced the opening of a police substation and community center for the high-crime Trumbull Gardens area in the North End.

Violent crime can often take on a a life of its own as it did during the 2015 campaign, but this year so far has been quiet by comparison, eight homicides to date this year versus 16 at the same time last year.

Ganim also experienced changes with the leadership of the Fire Department.

In June, Ganim named Richard Thode provisional fire chief following the retirement of Brian Rooney and also appointed Lance Edwards deputy fire chief. Ganim says Thode will lead the department on an interim basis until a permanent chief is appointed through a civil service testing process. The fire chief can also serve for up to two five-year terms.

Ganim has taken heat from past and current members of the Bridgeport Firebirds, an organization that fights for the rights of minority officers, for not elevating blacks and Latinos to leadership positions in the Fire Department.

Next: Finances.



  1. “Prime organizational strength” is a wonderful phrase used in the OIB introduction. When was the last professional review of police staffing completed? Was it done by an outside independent body? Where is that report today?

    Has it guided the Office of the Mayor, the Police Department Administration, and the Police Commissioners through the years that has allowed “actual staffing” numbers to drop significantly so too many taxpayer dollars for too many years have been consumed by Police overtime per contract, I realize, but have to ask: What are the guidelines? Who performs the Watchdog tasks? If the violent and serious crime statistics are down in recent years as reported to and by the FBI (and others), can someone please explain why the numbers in the ten divisions of the PD short by about 90 sworn gun-carrying officers? Are there other allocations that might decrease overtime, provide new opportunities to local citizens, and spend tax dollars more efficiently? Anyone with new ideas? Time will tell.

      1. Your turn, Ron Mackey. I know you can read. Tell us what year you reference and then tell us what Ukeles said that is important to us decades later, please.
        That is, if you think it is worthwhile to OIB readers. I happen to be reading a biography of John Brown at the moment for pleasure. Look forward to your Ukeles report. TIME WILL TELL.

    1. JML. While I don’t agree with a lot of your points, I’ll tell you this. There are loads of cops in that building doing nothing. There are holes in cars that need filling and really too many cops working secretarial jobs at top step $$$. Too top-heavy to boot. They can stand to dump all or some deputies and save those multiple six-figure salaries and put all available bodies back on the road, not hiding in offices essentially doing nothing. Also, there are multiple classes that can retire anytime they want and more coming. It will take years and many tests to come close to filling those empty spots. Cops on full salary driving old folks to appointments and prisoners to clean. Yikes.

    2. John Marshall Lee, you asked “‘Prime organizational strength’ is a wonderful phrase used in the OIB introduction. When was the last professional review of police staffing completed? Was it done by an outside independent body? Where is that report today?”

      John, before I address your questions let me say this, the Ukeles report, I’ve spoken about this on OIB and also Phil Smith has spoken on the Ukeles report. I have the highest respect for Judge Bill Holden and Phil Smith for their integrity, well they were the co-chairs of that committee. John, the Ukeles report is the master plan for the City, when the City goes into contract negotiation with the unions and they are using the Ukeles report to make changes in those contracts.

      John, you of all people who are on OIB would have had the Ukeles report and would know it inside and out. I’m sure there are things in the report that need to be updated but a lot of the questions you ask about are in the Ukeles report and that can give direction in what direction.

      John, I do not have a copy of the Ukeles report but I think you should ask Phil Smith to maybe sit and have a cup of coffee to discuss the report. The questions you asked about concerning the police department are addressed in that report.

      1. Ron, because I respect you despite your lack of willingness to meet face to face for discussions where each of us can leave having learned something worth the time spent, I have tried to locate any reference to Jacob Ukeles and the Management Advisory Report done for Bridgeport.
        Googling comes up with some references since 2011 that mention the consulting done but without detail or year of origin.
        Archives for OIB are similar.
        Searching the City website especially disappoints since the Transition Report does not mention Ukeles and MAC so those folks may be in the dark on the use and importance of MAC. And a brief search of the City site refers us to ULI reporting from more than a decade ago. Ukeles preceded that.
        Here is an opportunity for you to write an OIB topic. Tell us about MAC. Show us where this difficult to find document is used by the City today. Inform us and likely Phil Smith will assist. Look forward to your work. Time will tell.

        1. JML, that’s why I suggested you meet with Phil Smith because there is no one who knows more about the report than Phil, he was the co-chair of that committee. Also try asking Pete Spain.

          1. You are the one who has pushed the currently “invisible” MAC report. Since you now admit you don’t have a reference copy, though for some reason you expect me (who began writing on topics like this some six years ago) to have one, now it is up to Phil Smith?
            Phil writes with credibility and enough frequency to see whether he knows the location of a copy of MAC and supports your concept of the way that report governs police management. Time will tell.

          2. C’mon man, give Pete Spain a phone call and ask him about Phil Smith and the report. You are trying to reinvent the wheel when there is no need to. If you are serious then you need to get that report, otherwise you really don’t want to change things and it’s more important for you to have the issue instead of answers.

  2. Charlie Stallworth held a press conference at his church late afternoon yesterday regarding the demotion of Lonnie Blackwell who was one of 10 members sitting in the pews.

    Charlie Stallworth, Ralph Ford, Eneida Martinez, Ernie Newton, Dennis Bradley, etc. all spoke and repeatedly attacked Ganim. Speaker after speaker claimed the black community was “used,” “deceived” and “mislead” by Ganim. Mintz from the NAACP spoke, but I am not sure he participated in this attack on Ganim.

    They mentioned AJ Perez, but really spent most of the press conference attacking Ganim.

    They have begun laying the groundwork for a black mayoral candidate. The question is will it be Stallworth or Bradley.

    I am also hearing Andres Ayala is already meeting to form a coalition for his mayoral bid.

    I verified this with two attendees who were at the press conference and with a friend who works in editing for Channel 12 News. This employee told me the footage of the press conference was an all-out attack on Ganim.

    1. I think it would be nice if any minority ran. We are a diverse city. Having a black Mayor or a Hispanic Mayor is about as cliche as having our first woman President. Or better yet, our first woman Mayor. Honestly, nobody is interested in firsts. We want talented aggressive smart people who know when to cross party lines and put the right people where they belong.

  3. There is nothing new with Charlie Stallworth holding a press conference at his church late afternoon yesterday and who was there and what was talked about. Of course Andres Ayala is already meeting to form a coalition for his mayoral bid. Ganim has been raising money since last year so what’s the problem with blacks and Hispanics running their own candidates? Maria, your contacts are way behind on what is going on.

  4. Let me first say the Press conference was NOT about WHO’S running for MAYOR of Our CITY. The IMA and NAACP and Community Leaders could not sit back and allow Our police chief and MAYOR to treat Lonnie Blackwell any different than any other person who works for our police dept. Our NAACP called for a Federal investigation into our police dept. We may have Supported Joe for Mayor and Chief Perez but We will not sit back and allow anyone to treat Us like second-class citizens.

    1. Ernie, you and yours are full of shit. Racist by whose standards? How was that racist treated any differently than anyone else who did what he did? He is a racist asshole and so are you.

  5. Wasn’t a white officer demoted as well? If I am correct, how was Blackwell treated differently from other officers?

    Blackwell should be happy he wasn’t terminated. His actions were egregious and Bailey is certainly a credible individual.

  6. Ernie, I never said the press conference was about a mayoral race, but it is clear you and your colleagues are laying the foundation for a black candidate in three years.

    Whether it is Stallworth or Bradley really doesn’t matter. Both would lose the 138th.

    1. Maria, you refuse to take the wisdom others have attempted to share with you. You will NEVER expand whatever base you have outside the 138th district. Your comments about different black individuals who you don’t like is truly hurting you but you don’t see it because you have no real contact and association with the black community. It’s like this Maria, you can talked about your family any way you want, good or bad but somebody outside your family can’t say those same things; well Maria, you are way outside of your lane when you call a black female an “uncle Tom” or what blacks are saying or doing when they meet to discuss issues. Maria, you need to stay in your lane.

  7. Look, all this BS is just that, BS. No one can remember when the last professional survey of the entire department was done. People with no police experience keep calling for more cops. Did anyone ever think we may have too many cops for the size of this city?


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