Accountability Works For the People of Bridgeport!

An open letter to Mayor Ganim and Chief Perez, dated November 8, 2018:

On the eve of Election Day, in the hopes it would be buried in election news coverage, Mayor Ganim announced that his Acting Chief and personal friend, AJ Perez, is Bridgeport’s new Chief of Police.

The process of hiring a new Chief was flawed from the beginning. Since May, Mayor Ganim’s administration has prioritized secrecy and political optics over transparency and community engagement. We are proud of the work and public pressure activated by this coalition that persuaded Mayor Ganim to make small steps in the right direction; to hold two public meetings with the consultant, to release the names of the professional panel, and to post the names and resumes of the three finalists to the City’s website. These steps came only after we specifically called for him to do so. We understand this did not come willingly from the Ganim administration, but appreciate it nonetheless.

Even last week’s “invite only” luncheon with community leaders appears to be for show. There were less than 72 working hours between when community leaders heard from all three candidates and Mayor Ganim’s announcement. This leads us to wonder if the questions and concerns expressed by community members were ever a real consideration. At a time in Bridgeport when police and community relations are estranged, it is not a stretch to conclude that Mayor Ganim used community leaders as political cover for a decision he had already made.

Tuesday was Election Day. A day when millions of Americans used their power and their voice to choose who will represent our collective values and vision for the future. We hope as 2019 approaches Mayor Ganim has learned from this Police Chief search that we – his constituents – are hungry for and demanding that all our elected officials uphold the fundamental principles of Democracy that fueled waves of organizing across Connecticut. Voter turnout is up in Bridgeport. We value an open and transparent government that is accountable to us. We are engaged, educating ourselves and committed to participating in our government.

As such, we stand ready and willing to work with Chief Perez on the reforms we care about and that he has publicly pledged enact. Our community deserves a police department committed to 21st Century policing; building trust, transparency and legitimacy, meaningful civilian oversight and policies, community engagement and policing, crime reduction, anti-bias and racial sensitivity training and education, officer and civilian safety.

We get it, waves can be rough sometimes, they often take unexpected dips, tips and turns, but we are steadfast in our commitment to ride. Together.

Signed by Bridgeport Generation Now. Co-signed by ACLU of Connecticut; Better Bridgeport; Reverend Cass Shaw, Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport; Kyle Langan, City Council Representative, 132nd District.

Mayor Ganim, Do The Right Thing!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

On Thursday, October 18th, we released an Op-Ed in the Connecticut Post calling on Mayor Ganim to provide full transparency and meaningful community engagement in the Bridgeport Police Chief search. The following week, Mayor Ganim released the names and resumes of the three finalists for chief.

On Friday, October 26th we held a press conference calling on Mayor Ganim to hold a public forum with the three finalists. Yesterday, we learned that his office is organizing a luncheon this Thursday, November 1st for select stakeholders and community leaders to meet with the three finalists.

While Mayor Ganim’s actions are small steps in the right direction, they do not go far enough.

This luncheon is not the appropriate response to the community’s call for public inclusion. First, it is planned for the middle of the workday, making it impossible for many of our neighbors to attend. Second, the luncheon was announced with less than 48 hours notice, creating a scheduling challenge for many involved. Finally, the luncheon is by invitation only, so it is not open nor accessible to the public.

We continue to call on Mayor Ganim to do the right thing: hold a public forum in the evening and on the weekend. Encourage the three candidates to engage in open, public dialogue with youth and residents about their goals and vision for policing in Bridgeport. This path may seem complex and uncertain. But that is the beauty of it – only through acknowledging diverse voices and experiences are we able to see how interconnected our futures all are.

None of us alone have the necessary answers. We will find them together.

 

Signed by Bridgeport Generation Now. Co-signed by Kyle Langan, City Council, 132nd District; Justice For Jayson; Reverend Anthony Bennett, Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut; Reverend Cass Shaw, The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport; ACLU of Connecticut; and Showing Up For Racial Justice Fairfield County.

 

UPDATE: Call/Email Mayor Ganim to Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Watch the live feed from our Press Conference on Friday, 10/26/18 here:

https://www.facebook.com/BPTGenNow/videos/2082972978594279/ 

We need real substantive action. We the people of Bridgeport know a different way is possible. Mayor Ganim still has the opportunity to make this right. He could:

  • Start the Police Chief search over; and
  • Follow models set by other progressive cities truly interested in 21st Century Policing
  • Hold public meetings in all 10 council districts to get meaningful community input;
  • Convene a real search committee – appointing 10 community members without ties to the administration, including youth.

We hope that Mayor Ganim chooses this path. But if he continues down path we are already on, we stand resolute in our call for him to hold a public forum with all three finalists. The people of Bridgeport deserve to hear from these professional candidates about their vision, goals, and policies for this key leadership position.

Together, we can show respect for the people and the progress of Bridgeport.

WILL YOU CALL AND EMAIL MAYOR GANIM?

Email: Joseph.Ganim@bridgeportct.gov

Phone: 203-576-7201

Possible Script:

Dear Mayor Ganim,

I believe a public forum with all three finalists in the Police Chief search is very important. Will you commit to holding one? The people of Bridgeport deserve to hear from these professional candidates about their vision, goals, and policies for this key leadership position.

Together, we can show respect for the people and the progress of Bridgeport!

Best,

[Name]

[City Council District]

The Public Deserves Full Transparency in Police Chief Search

SIGN THE PETITION HERE: https://www.change.org/p/mayor-joe-ganim-full-transparency-in-bridgeport-police-chief-search

The Bridgeport Police Department is the largest and fastest growing city department, taking up more of our resources at the expense of other institutions like education, libraries, and our parks. It is also a department in a crisis of leadership, mismanagement, violence, and corruption. In the past year and a half alone, Bridgeport police killed unarmed 15 year-old Jayson Negron, engaged in dangerous high-speed chases resulting in the death of 18 year-old Corbin Cooper, and are totally out of compliance with our state’s racial profiling law. In light of these and many other issues – and to build bridges for stronger civilian oversight – we, members of Bridgeport Generation Now, started attending our monthly Police Commission meetings.

In the midst of our research, Mayor Ganim announced he would conduct a nationwide search for a new Chief of Police. Immediately, we knew community engagement would be key to a healthy and democratic search process. According to the International Association of Police Chiefs, “Involving [the community] in public safety efforts…strengthen[s] the department’s presence…and the community’s trust in the agency.”

After a corruption scandal rocked the Oakland Police Department, in 2016 Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that “enhanced community accountability” would be a “big part” of Oakland’s search process and future. Under her leadership, the City of Oakland appointed community members to their selection committee, included youth in the hiring process, and rolled out a series of forums designed to get public input. Under Mayor Ganim’s leadership, however, Bridgeport is subjected to something quite different.

In May, the City hired a consultant to oversee the search process. Originally, Randi Frank held only closed-door meetings with folks pre-selected by Ganim’s office. After public pressure, Mayor Ganim arranged for two public meetings. During these meetings, Ms. Frank promised she would use the community’s input to screen candidates down to a list of finalists. Then, according to David Dunn, the City’s Personnel Director, a ten-person selection committee comprised of community members appointed by Mayor Ganim, would select three candidates for Ganim to review.   

Under these assumptions, we presented our ideal requirements and interview questions. We also asked if one of our members could be appointed to the search committee. Despite attempts to have open communication, we never received any follow-up from Mr. Dunn.

It is October and we now know Mayor Ganim has given up on any promise of public-facing community engagement. In September, his office told Hearst Media they would not release the names of the ten people on the search committee. This week, we learned that Ganim’s administration will not even convene a community-minded search committee, scrapping this process for a five-person “professional panel” made up of “two police chiefs from out-of-town, two human resources professionals and an individual with municipal management experience.” Again, the identities of these five people are a secret. Also secret are the names and professional experience of the seven finalists for this taxpayer-funded, city job.

The lack of public inclusion, transparency, and vision for a 21st Century Bridgeport Police Department is striking. On behalf of our members, coalition partners, and the public, we call on Mayor Ganim for full transparency and meaningful community engagement in this search process.

We call on him to immediately do the following:

  • release the names and organizational affiliations of the members of the professional panel;
  • appoint five community members without ties to the administration, including youth, to the panel;
  • release the names and records of the seven finalists;
  • and hold public meetings in all City Council districts to get real community input.

Anything less shows a blatant disregard for the people and the progress of Bridgeport.

Signed by Bridgeport Generation Now. Co-signed by Kyle Langan, City Council, 132nd District; Pete Spain, City Council, 130th District; Justice For Jayson; Reverend Anthony Bennett, Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut; The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport; ACLU of Connecticut; and Showing Up For Racial Justice Fairfield County.

Published as an Op-Ed in The Connecticut Post on Thursday, October 18th, 2018: https://www.ctpost.com/opinion/article/Group-wants-in-on-Bridgeport-chief-pick-13315373.php

Photos by Callow Lens from Black Lives Matter March organized by CTCORE-Organize Now, Bridgeport 2016.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

BRIDGEPORT POLICE COMMISSION

Since November of 2017, Members of Bridgeport Generation Now have attended the Police Commission meetings.

The Bridgeport Police Commission meets the third Tuesday of every month at 6:30pm, usually at 999 Broad Street. However, they sometimes hold the meeting in the Chief’s Office at 300 Congress Street, 3rd Floor. We update our Facebook page as soon as we know. The meetings are open to the public.

To read through the archive of research and public statements related to our Police Accountability work, click here.

The Police Commission is the only civilian oversight body of our Police Department. Our State Statutes and City Charter give the Police Commission strong oversight powers to discipline officers, as well as set department goals and policies. The Police Commission also reviews and makes rulings on all Citizen Complaints about Police brutality, violence, and misconduct.

To submit a Citizen Complaint, fill out this form: https://www.bridgeportct.gov/filestorage/341650/341652/346107/341670/341794/Civilian_complaint_report_v2.pdf

Para enviar un reclamo ciudadano, complete este formulario: https://www.bridgeportct.gov/filestorage/341650/341652/346107/341670/341794/Civilian_complaint_report_v2_(Spanish).pdf

Current issues we are tracking are:

1) The governance and operations of the Police Commission
2) The National Search for a new Chief of Police
3) Police misconduct, violence, and corruption
4) Department goals, policies, and procedures

To find Bridgeport Police Commission agendas/minutes, click here: http://www.bridgeportct.gov/content/341441/341399/351165.aspx

To get onto the agenda to speak to the Commission, you must submit a request by phone or email to Lt. Nancy O’Donnell by the Friday before the meeting by 10:00 a.m.

Lieutenant Nancy E. O’Donnell
Department Clerk
Bridgeport Police Department
300 Congress Street
Bridgeport, CT. 06604
Office: (203)581-5121
Fax: (203)576-7933
Email: Nancy.ODonnell@bridgeportct.gov

The seven members currently serving on the Police Commission are listed below. For more information about appointment and terms, visit the City’s website here.

Anna Cruz (R)
68 Perth Street
Bridgeport, CT 06606
Term Expires: 12/31/2009

Matthew Cuminotto Jr. (D)
320 Vincellette Street,
Bridgeport, CT 06606
Term Expires: 12/31/2015

Hector Diaz (D)
34 Arthur Street
Bridgeport, CT 06605
Term Expires: 12/31/2018

Edwin P. Farrow (D)
357 Pearl Street
Bridgeport, CT 06605
Term Expires: 12/31/2017

Thomas A. Lyons (D)
91 Jewett Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06606
Term Expires: 12/31/2010

Daniel S. Roach (D)
19 Quinlan Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06605
Term Expires: 12/31/2005

Valerie Quarles (U)
58 Herald Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06606
Term Expires: 12/31/2018