Left to right, Roderick Porter, Rebeca Garcia, Lonnie Blackwell.
He shares a piece of Bridgeport in his last name with a beefy law enforcement undertaking to boot. A tasty combo.
Mayor Joe Ganim on Thursday is expected to introduce retired Captain Roderick Porter as the new chief of police following a national search that included Acting Chief Rebeca Garcia and Captain Lonnie Blackwell as the finalists.
The appointment comes with a five-year term, a probationary period of six months and a pending contract that must be approved by the City Council.
Following the most scrutinized police chief search that included three public forums with candidates pressed on an assortment of department issues Ganim has tapped an inside/outside professional who spent decades in the department but retired earlier this year.
The byword for this selection is “safe.”
Garcia and Blackwell negotiated a contentious relationship since she assumed command, appointed by Ganim, more than two years after the cheating-scandal resignation of Armando Perez, something that played out during public forums–Blackwell feeling marginalized, Garcia feeling subverted. Keeping Garcia in charge would be more of the same. Elevating Blackwell could cause a reversal rift leading Garcia to exit the department.
Will she stay on board as assistant chief, her previous role? Superior Court Judge Barry Stevens ruled a few months ago that her appointment to that position three years ago should have been part of a competitive process. Ganim values her experience and wants her to stay on but saw a need for change, given the circumstances.
He’s hoping Porter can serve as an internal healer to mend rifts between Black and Hispanic police officers while building bridges in the community. Porter also inherits a department with staffing shortages as the city’s recruitment campaigns have not kept pace with retirements and defections to other departments with enticing benefits.
Ganim doesn’t want a police department complicating his reelection bid in 2023.
In some circles this will be a popular choice, for others condemnation based on community alliances and ethnic fealty. Garcia became the first Hispanic woman to command the department. Combined with Perez’s service, Hispanic chiefs have led the department for nearly seven years.
Ganim, during his first tenure as mayor, appointed Wilbur Chapman as the city’s first Black chief.
Politicians, be it on the City Council or elsewhere, will always meow about this and that. Nature of the beast.
Ganim enjoys a slab of beef. Who knows, maybe in the near future the mayor and his new chief will sit down at Joseph’s Steakhouse, the restaurant Ganim recruited to the city, to carve a porterhouse for two.