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FY 23 DOJ JAG Grant Program

Description of the Issue

The City of Bridgeport is seeking a four-year grant of $164,024 from the FY23 Edward Byrne Memorial JAG Program to fund costs associated with supporting and improving law enforcement response in Bridgeport, Connecticut. JAG funds will be used to purchase JAG approved equipment.

The City of Bridgeport is the most populous and one of the most impoverished and densely populated cities in the state. Approximately 23% of Bridgeport residents live below the poverty line. The majority of residents 42% identify as Hispanic/Latino, 34% as Black/African American; 19% as White (non-Hispanic); 3% as Asian; and the remaining 2% into another category. Bridgeport is also one of the most violent cities in the state. A 2014 report from the Congressional Quarterly, based on FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Data, ranked crime in Bridgeport sixth highest in a national list of 252 cities of comparable size (100,000-499,000 residents). With approximately 145,000 residents living within Bridgeport’s 15.97 square miles, its dense population means that violence and crime affects the lives of nearly every resident of the city.

The City of Bridgeport Police Department (BPD) is committed to improving its ability to protect its residents, visitors, and its police officers. For this reason, the City is seeking funding to purchase Electronic Control Devices (Tasers) for the 35 newly hired police officers.

Project Design and Implementation

The City of Bridgeport’s Police Departments Training Division has had a successful Taser program for the past 17 years. Officers are required to successfully complete training on the functionality of the ECD and the Departments policy on it’s use prior to issuance of the ECD. Each new training officer prior to becoming a certified Bridgeport Police Officer will receive the initial aforementioned training and upon successful completion will be issued the ECD. In addition, a mandatory annual re-certification training must be successfully completed to be authorized to carry the ECD each year.

The purchase of 35 ECD’s will provide an additional tool for the officers to de-escalate dangerous situations which have the potential to escalate rapidly into a deadly physical force. The ECD has proven to subdue violent individuals, minimize the risk of physical injury to the officer and the subject and de-escalate situations that would have escalated in a violent confrontation.

The BPD will follow the City of Bridgeport procurement policies, which require that the Department undergo a formal competitive bidding process for all purchases above a $25,000 threshold. The Department will work with the City of Bridgeport’s City Attorney’s Office and Purchasing Department to begin the formal bidding process upon notification of grant award.

Capabilities and Competencies

The Bridgeport Police Department’s Training Division has a State Certified Electronic Control Device Program, a certified BPD policy as it relates to the ECD program. The Bridgeport Training Academy has certified hundreds of officers over the past 17 years, in which it has shown to be an asset in minimizing injuries to both officers and violent combative subjects. Given the extensive training provided that is required in order to be issued the ECD, the officers have the skills and knowledge to safely utilize the ECD not only to be effective but to minimize injuries and to de-escalate situations.

Plan for Collecting Data Required for Performance Measures

The BPD is committed to providing performance measurement data and information to the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Department will assign a staff member to oversee the data collection and analysis process and will evaluate program impact using BJA’s accountability measures. The BPD per department policy is required after deploying an ECD to immediately notify their respective Supervisor, attain medical attention for the subject, document the incident which will be reviewed and investigation by the Supervisor, in addition, a copy of the Use of Force will be submitted to the State of Connecticut Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division for there review.

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