Bridgeport Police Department hiring officers to fill deficit

Stephanie Simoni, WTNH Reporter - BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH)-- The Bridgeport Police Department is down 70 officers and it's taking its toll.

"It increases our overtime costs," said Asst. Chief James Nardozzi. "The officers, at some point, they begin to tire out."

"You want to be a police officer in Bridgeport," said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch at a press conference Wednesday. He's hoping to recruit local qualified candidates from community outreach. All positions would be entry-level with a starting salary of about $48,000. The city says that wage is competitive when you factor in their pension plan.

"We're extremely competitive, especially in the area of retirement," said Nardozzi. He says they need qualified candidates, "Who can pass all the various tests that they need to pass, and especially we would like to have Bridgeport residents."

He says they're looking for officers who reflect their diverse community when it comes to gender, race, and religion. They're even offering an extra 15-percentage points on the overall exam score to Bridgeport residents.

"If we want police officers that look like the community and act like the community, then certainly this is a positive thing," said John Jay College of Criminal Justice Professor John Decarlo.

Decarlo is a retired Branford police chief and says departments across the state and even country are having trouble recruiting qualified candidates. He says many departments are adjusting requirements to accommodate.

"If we look at a trend nationally, standards are not necessarily lowering but they're changing to be more reflective of the reality of our applicant pool," said Decarlo.

Bridgeport police follow state standards when it comes to requirements. They say they're looking for capable men and women who above all else are passionate for policing.

"It's not a career that you join because you want to become a millionaire," said Narzdozzi. "It is a public service career, so you have to want to do the job."

Right now they have 1,500 hopefuls who will be testing in April.

For more information about Bridgeport police recruitment, click here.

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