BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Fallout continues over the arrest of Bridgeport’s now-former police chief.
Monday, protesters and prominent community leaders gathered outside Mayor Joe Ganim’s office to call for his resignation.
“By hook or by crook, we are going to clean up this city,” announced Gemeem Davis, Co-director of community group Bridgeport Generation NOW Votes.
Davis, and her fellow protesters, said they have no confidence in the mayor’s ability to lead the city through yet another scandal.
Federal prosecutors have implicated Chief Armando J. “AJ” Perez and city personnel director David Dunn in a scheme to rig the 2018 police chief exam in favor of Perez.
Both men were charged last week in U.S. District Court on charges of fraud and conspiracy.
Former city councilman Pete Spain said state taxpayers should wake up, because, he said, much of the impoverished city’s funds come from Connecticut tax dollars.
“We have 169 municipalities,” said Spain, “Bridgeport is only able to function because of dollars that come to it from the state and federal government.”
Over the weekend, the mayor said he did not have any involvement in the alleged scheme to land his long-time associate the job of top cop.
News 8 attempted to visit the mayor’s office after the rally but were told he was not available.
Later in the afternoon, Ganim’s office sent News 8 this statement:
It is unfortunate that some are trying to politicize this situation. At a time when most city leaders have unified – and this is a difficult time for the entire city, we appreciate constructive and meaningful thoughts and ideas that will benefit all of our residents and our city’s future.
News 8 spoke to one of the top finalists passed over for Perez during the city’s national search for a new chief two years ago. Bridgeport Police Department Captain Roderick Porter told News 8, “I am just sad for the city, my fellow citizens and my brother and sister officers in the Bridgeport Police Department.”
“Seventeen thousand we spent on that search only to have it be a scam,” said activist Davis.
In the meantime, local leaders questioned the mayor’s move to appoint Rebeca Garcia as the new acting chief.
“There’s a process, people,” said State Senator Marilyn Moore, (D) 22nd District. “None of us should be saying who should be the next person. It should go through the process.”
News 8 has learned both Perez and Dunn will get their city-funded pensions despite their resignation and the charges against them. That means, at minimum, tens of thousands of dollars paid out by taxpayers. If either is convicted in federal court, the attorney general would have to intervene to prevent the men from collecting the money.
It’s not sitting well with protesters who called on the state legislature to strengthen public corruption laws. Moore said it’s something she’s looking into.