Bridgeport Police Review Policies to Obtain Accreditation

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BRIDGEPORT – After a four-year voluntary effort to revise its policies, the city’s police force joined the elite roster of just over two dozen other city departments following the enforcement standards of the highest law in the state.

“It’s the way you do business. Best practices, ”explained Karen Boisvert, executive of POST, in an interview Thursday on the importance of the designation.

The POST vote on Bridgeport’s status took place on September 16. The meeting was attended by Acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia and Lt. Manuel Cotto, who led the effort to update the department’s policy manual in preparation for the accreditation application and the in – inspections of persons.

“Proud moment for the Bridgeport Police Department,” Garcia told the board after recognizing Cotto for his work.

And Boisvert noted Thursday that of the three accreditation levels, the first is “the most difficult to achieve.”

In order to qualify for the POST Level 1 category, a service must meet 126 standards involving several key operational areas including management, personnel, recruitment / promotion, records, evidence, use of force, the treatment of minors, prisoners and detention centers. .

Madison Police Captain Joseph Race is a member of the POST accreditation subcommittee and also chair of a coalition of departments that are helping mentor other law enforcement agencies as part of this effort. .

“Their (Bridgeport) policy manual is now ‘2021’. … Their entire manual has been redone. It’s an important part of service delivery, overall, for their community, ”Race said Thursday, noting that the process requires police departments to take a critical look at how they’ve done. their work and what can be done better.

“It forces you to ask tough questions about yourself,” Race said. “I really like the introspective aspect of accreditation. Sometimes you have to admit that you didn’t do it right, but now you have the mechanisms to fix this problem and fix it in the future. “

Bridgeport has hired a consultant, the Daigle Law Group of Plantsville, which promotes itself as “one of the country’s leading law firms specializing in the development of effective and constitutional policing practices.” As new policies, which are all put online, were drafted, they required approval from the city police commission, and then were to be distributed to core staff.

Departments must reapply for accreditation every three years.

And the redesign of the manual is also important when it comes to securing criminal convictions and defending against lawsuits, Race noted.

“When we look at level 1 standards, these are your areas of high responsibility – minors, areas of detention, prosecutions, use of force,” he said. “We try in the state (accreditation) program to deal with these issues upstream in the program, because that’s where the lawsuits come from. And not even legal action, but if the evidence is not dealt with, you lose business down the line. … These are the (standards) that every department should apply because they will protect you.

POST also awards professional certification (79 standards) and general management (116 standards), but Chase said Level 1 is “the base” for the rest due to the difficulty in obtaining it.

The good news for the Bridgeport Police Department comes after a few trying years for the agency with officers accused of excessive use of force and racism; former chief Armando Perez arrested and convicted of cheating to get that job; internal feuds over Garcia’s promotion to succeed Perez; what the union calls a “growing staff crisis” due to the transfer of agents to other cities for better benefits and better morale; and elected officials and activists demanding reforms.

“This is a very important first step in a department your size,” Milford Police Chief Keith Mello, chairman of the board, told Garcia and Cotto after the September 16 accreditation vote. “(With) the complexity you have to deal with for law enforcement, I’m sure this was a big boost and look forward to seeing you for level 2 and for level 3 . “

“We will be back for level 2 for sure,” Garcia said.


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