Op-Ed: Building relationships, community, reduces Bridgeport crime

The City of Bridgeport is in the midst of a dramatic reduction in violent crime – the largest drop over the past decade for a city our size in all of New England. And the Police Department is preparing to announce 2014 crime statistics that will reflect yet another significant decrease in crime in our city.

Yet the fact that Bridgeport is now safer than it has been in 40 years is only the beginning of the conversation.

Op-ed submit bugThis reduction in violence – and in crime in general – speaks to the continual hard work of the men and women of this police department and our city as a whole. In Bridgeport, we’re taking a multi-pronged approach to cracking down on crime – and it’s working.

There are several reasons for this, but I’ll name a few.

We’re working closely with the community, closely with Mayor [Bill] Finch’s office, and closely with the city council. Council members will go out with our walking beats and build relationships with kids and families.

Project Longevity and partnerships.

We have worked with gang members and offered them assistance to change their lives through Project Longevity, a partnership with police, the community and state and federal law enforcement. We also cautioned them about the consequences of destructive behavior.

We’re also benefitting from economic initiatives that are creating jobs across the city, bringing in new businesses and creating a revitalized city. Steelpointe Harbor, Eco-Technology Park, and downtown improvement are resulting in more jobs.

It’s taken the whole community to make this happen, especially from residents who trust and choose to work with police because they are fed up with the small group of people who would see us move backwards.

But I can honestly say Bridgeport is a safer place than at any time since I began my career 31 years ago.

We’ve seen progress and trust come in large and small measures. Our officers were out in the community after the last big snow storm talking with residents, asking people to lend a hand in shoveling out a fire hydrant or checking on an elderly neighbor.

We canvass neighborhoods with “friendly reminders” when our crime analysts observe a trend of car break-ins or burglaries. And, our patrol officers and detectives work hard every day to hold people accountable if they do harm to our community.

We’ve seen the results. One hundred fewer crimes equals one hundred fewer victims. That is how we measure progress. And while we still have work to do, know that through our residents and police efforts, the city of Bridgeport is getting better every day.

Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr.  is a 31-year veteran of the Bridgeport Police Department and has served as chief since 2010.

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