Interviews With Police Chief Finalists Completed, Decision Time For Ganim

Left to right retired Captain Roderick Porter, Acting Chief Rebeca Garcia, Captain Lonnie Blackwell.

Following live and streamed forums for public review, City Council assessment and state legislative delegation input, Mayor Joe Ganim has met straight up with each finalist for chief of police–Acting Chief Rebeca Garcia, Captain Lonnie Blackwell, retired Captain Roderick Porter–with a decision expected soon to tap a new top cop to a five-year appointment whose contract will go to the legislative body for approval.

Whether you’re a supporter or not of Ganim, no police chief search has availed such public openness, after city voters approved more than 30 years ago a City Charter change for the mayor to appoint a new chief to no more than two, five-year contracts.

Four years ago it was messy: then Acting Chief Armando Perez connived the test questions in his favor with help from subordinates to finish in the top three from which Ganim could make a choice.

Following the fallout of Perez’s arrest and subsequent resignation in 2020, Ganim appointed Garcia acting chief.

Ganim hired the International Association of Chiefs of Police to lead a national search to present him three finalists all with local ties to the department.

In public forums, elbows were particularly sharp between Garcia and Blackwell who feels she marginalized his attributes to the department while Garcia asserts he has tried to undermine her leadership. Along the way, Porter retired, then reemerged as a finalist, as he had during the testing process four years ago.

Now we are here.

Garcia, Blackwell and Porter all enjoy support from various advocacy groups: Garcia from Hispanics within the department, Blackwell from Blacks within the department, Porter from Ganim-critic Bridgeport Generation Now whose leadership supported State Senator Marilyn Moore for mayor in 2019.

Ganim will not isolate his decision from all of the above.

He will, however, process: if I do this, what happens with that?; if I appoint this person, does this one quit?; if I select he/she/she/he can they get along?

Example: if he doesn’t appoint Garcia will she revert back to the assistant chief position she occupied prior to her temporary appointment?

Superior Court Judge Barry Stevens has ruled that such a position cannot be filled unilaterally as was the case with her assistant chief appointment and must be part of a competitive process.

If he chooses Blackwell, how does that dynamic play into his frosty relationship with her?

If he chooses Porter, does that create more department harmony than selecting Garcia or Blackwell? Right now the internal politics of the department is scratchy.

Who among the three will serve as an effective public face while managing the internals of the building?

While Ganim ponders this five-year contract appointment that includes a six-month probationary period, he’s also looking to next year when he asks voters for another four-year contract for himself.



  1. Lennie,
    You have covered the appointment process for Police Department chief with more detail than many other employee matters in the City of Bridgeport.
    You have just mentioned a probationary period of six months, and if memory serves me correctly this may be a standard City practice. What are the rights and responsibilities of THE MAYOR AND OF THE NEWLY APPOINTED CHIEF in that period of time? Are there any other parties with rights or duties?
    What changes at six months and one day in terms of duties, rights, responsibilities, and the function of oversight or review by PD immediate supervisor?? Is it any different from anyone else in Bridgeport employment?
    Does the Police Commission have a role in any of the activities of the appointment, oversight, or duties regarding public safety as they have not been mentioned prominently, it seems?
    Hope to see your response. Time will tell.

  2. After some thought I am officially throwing my support behind the old man Captain Porter. Even though I was upset of his “google me” comment and what I found out. I guess I can get over it.


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