Connecticut

Roderick Porter to be named Bridgeport police chief

BRIDGEPORT — Mayor Joe Ganim is expected to unveil the city’s new permanent police chief on Thursday, and sources within the city council and police department said they have been told the job will go to former Captain Roderick Porter.

Ganim’s office Wednesday afternoon said only “there is an announcement that will be made tomorrow,” but gave no further details. And Porter didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A month-long search conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police began with 19 candidates and ended with three native finalists: Porter, acting chief Rebeca Garcia, who would be Bridgeport’s first female chief of the force, and another black captain. Lonnie Blackwell.

Porter actually applied to be a top cop on the last such search in 2018 and was also a finalist at the time. But Ganim instead opted for the good friend and political ally of then-acting boss Armando Perez, who was subsequently arrested in September 2020 on federal charges that he cheated on him to get the job.

Perez eventually pleaded guilty and served time in prison. After his arrest, Ganim promoted Garcia from assistant to chief to head of the department.

The mayor’s office previously confirmed that Garcia had the highest score on the most recent search, followed by Blackwell and then Porter. Some critics of the police department had hoped at least one outside candidate would emerge, and former New Haven interim chief Renee Dominguez is said to have been a finalist before dropping out for a job with the Watertown Police Department.

In an effort to heal the taint of the Perez scandal, the Ganim government not only shut down the IACP, but also increased community involvement in the 2022 quest, and two public forums featuring the finalists and a question-and-answer session scheduled with City Council, and private meetings with state legislators and Bridgeport city officials.

In recent weeks, the competition has morphed into something of a political campaign, with the three competitors subtly lashing out at each other during forums and various interest groups offering public support to influence Ganim’s decision-making.

The Guardians, a group of minority officers of which Blackwell is vice president, backed him. The head of the Greater Bridgeport Branch NAACP, Rev. D. Stanley Lord, said he wanted either Blackwell or Porter to be named chief, while the civic group Bridgeport Generation Now sided with Porter. Meanwhile, an organization of Hispanic police officers and some Hispanic community leaders supported Garcia.

Things got even more complicated after Hearst Connecticut Media revealed last week that a law firm hired a year ago to investigate allegations of racism, discrimination and favoritism against Blackwell and The Guardians, many of whom targeted Garcia, was not doing its job to select a finalist before Ganim’s deadline this month.

In response, City Hall last Friday released a summary of the law firm’s review of Blackwell’s lawsuit, which largely cleared Garcia of any wrongdoing.

There was some speculation last week after Porter withdrew his appeal against a state discrimination lawsuit he had filed for previously being passed over as chief, which he expected to be Ganim’s choice this time.

Given all the interest and political intrigue, Ganim’s choice of best cop would never make everyone happy.

On Wednesday, for example, Councilman Jorge Cruz, a Garcia supporter, said Porter’s dropped appeal coupled with rumors that Porter was likely the mayor’s pick led to him blasting Ganim on social media on Tuesday, because he is allegedly planning to hand over Garcia.

Cruz accused the mayor on Facebook of “taking Puerto Rican and Hispanic people for granted” and vowed to urge those voters not to support Ganim for re-election next year.

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