“We worked hard to find not only the best people and also people who reflect the diversity of our great city. I’m proud of the work by our recruitment team. They were out in the community and worked with the community. That is another example of how Bridgeport is getting better – by working together every day.” – Mayor Bill Finch
Bridgeport, Conn (July 27, 2015) – Today, Mayor Bill Finch was joined by police officials and community members in announcing a new list of police recruits, as the city is hiring 100 new police officers.
“We worked hard to find not only the best people and also people who reflect the diversity of our great city,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “I’m proud of the work by our recruitment team. They were out in the community and worked with the community. That is another example of how Bridgeport is getting better – by working together every day.”
The city expects to hire, train and deploy 100 new officers in the next 18 to 24 months.
Mayor Finch announced that the city has received a civil service list of 762 qualified candidates. The city will move forward with background checks, polygraph tests, physicals and other requirements with a goal of seating a first academy class this fall.
Mayor Finch commended the work of the recruitment team and also the efforts of the community members who volunteered to serve on the oral board panels.
That hard work paid dividends, leading to an extremely diverse list of candidates and strong presence of Bridgeport residents scoring at the top of the list. Working with city council, the city added an additional 15 percent to final scores for residents of the Park City.
Of the top 100 candidates on the list, 98 of them are Bridgeport residents.
And, the hiring list is very diverse. Sixty-one percent of the candidates are minorities, women and residents of Bridgeport. Thirty-nine percent are Caucasian males from out-of-town.
“This didn’t happen on its own,” said Mayor Finch. “We made it happen by working with the community leaders and working with the Guardians and Bridgeport Police Hispanic Society, who conducted true grass-root recruitment in our neighborhoods and let folks in Bridgeport know just how good of a career this is.”
Sgt. Joe Hernandez, the president of the Society, said: “Having reviewed the preliminary hiring list, I am elated to see the diversity in this group of candidates. One that is also reflective of the community that they’ll ultimately serve. Familiarity with the community and more importantly, the understanding of community needs, was paramount in our decision to assist in the recruitment effort. On behalf of my executive board, we are happy to have assisted in that effort.”
In this exam, Mayor Finch said, the city partnered with community members like never before. The test had written and oral components. For the first time, the city asked community members to sit on the three-person panels.
“Bridgeport is a very diverse and inclusive community so we wanted diverse and inclusive panels to conduct the interviews. That is why we invited community members to participate in the interview process,” said Mayor Finch. “Bridgeport already has one of the most diverse police departments in the state, but we wanted to set the bar even higher.”
In December, the Meriden Record-Journal referenced Bridgeport’s efforts in increasing diversity in the police department, noting that the city recruits heavily, including at local churches and colleges, and at events like the Puerto Rican Day Parade and Juneteenth Parade.
More than 800 candidates were eligible to complete oral interviews with one of 14 three-person panels. Each panel included one city official, one ranking police officer and one community member.
Ted Meekins, chairman of the East End Community Council, served on a panel.
“I think this is a big improvement over past performances, and there was a concerted effort by the city, for the vetting process, to see to it that Bridgeport candidates were well represented,” Meekins said. “As we know, this is a step but a major step. First was the recruiting, then it was the testing, then it’s background checks, then there’s a class that will go into the academy. We’re glad to see that it will be a mixed class with black and Hispanic candidates. What we’re looking at now are opportunities that weren’t there before, and we want every candidate to take full advantage of their opportunity. They’re closer to the academy. You’re not quite there yet, but you’re closer than you’ve ever been and we’re real proud of this opportunity. So we are very excited.”
Said Mayor Finch: “The community members added an essential view and perspective that I believe created confidence in the process."
Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. said he looked forward to getting the class seated.
“This is the next generation of police officers who will protect the kids and families of Bridgeport for the next 25 to 30 years,” he said. “I want to thank Mayor Finch for providing the resources and support for hiring more police officers. In the meantime, our officers are continuing to go out every day protecting our residents. But we still have work to do.”
The department continues to work closely with the State Police and federal law enforcement partners. The Statewide Urban Violence Cooperative Crime Control Task Force this weekend provided valuable information to detectives in two investigations.
And, Gaudett said, the department and mayor continue to work with the state and federal delegations to find ways to crack down on illegal guns.