BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — An independent investigator will look into allegations of racial discrimination within the Bridgeport police department including unfair discipline of Black officers and a hostile work environment, city officials said.
The probe is in response to claims against acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia made by the Bridgeport Guardians, which represents minority officers on the force, Hearst Connecticut Media reported Tuesday.
City Council President Aidee Nieves said the city will be hiring an outside attorney to review the allegations.
The Guardians, however, are continuing to insist that federal government officials investigate the department. Davon Polite, president of the Guardians, said there are concerns that city officials will hire a lawyer who will produce the results they want.
“A federal investigation is the only way to get an impartial, fair investigation,” Polite said.
Rowena White, a spokesperson for Mayor Joe Ganim, confirmed the outside review, but said officials cannot comment further because of the investigation.
The Guardians and the local NAACP branch recently requested federal oversight of the department and an investigation, alleging a widespread pattern of racial discrimination within the agency.
The Guardians are accusing Garcia of subjecting minority officers to disparate treatment and a hostile work environment. The group has called for Garcia's removal. The city police union voted no confidence in Garcia in March.
A message seeking comment was left Wednesday for Garcia.
Polite has said Garcia has unfairly targeted members of the Guardians for unfavorable assignments and harsher discipline compared with other officers.
“The Bridgeport Police Department’s pattern and practice of discriminatory behavior has had an adverse impact on officers’ morale, mental health, well-being, career development, and reputation," the Guardians said in a letter to City Council members.