Yale Daily News

New Haven Assistant Police Chief Luiz Casanova is one of the top three candidates for the open Bridgeport Police Chief position, Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim announced on Tuesday.

“I am pleased with the nationwide search and selection process for police chief … Bridgeport will be served well,” said Bridgeport Civil Service Personnel Director David Dunn in a press release from Ganim’s office.

Interviews for seven semi-finalists were conducted on Oct. 19 by a panel of five experts from police departments and municipal governments in the region, including Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins.

Four days after the seven semi-finalists interviews were conducted, the Department of Civil Services notified Ganim that three finalists had been selected: Bridgeport Acting Police Chief Armando Perez, Bridgeport Police Captain Roderick Porter and Casanova.

Bridgeport Communications Director Rowena White said it is not rare for someone outside of Bridgeport to be selected as a finalist, adding that while several hopefuls currently serve in the Bridgeport Police Department, others applied from across the country.

According to the New Haven Register, Casanova was also a candidate for New Haven police chief following the departure of former Chief Dean Esserman in September 2016. Anthony Campbell eventually won the position in May 2017.

In December 2016, Casanova received a one-day unpaid suspension after calling an officer a “f—ing mope,” and then denying the officer the right to a union representation, according to the New Haven Register. A community rally was hosted in support of the assistant chief following his suspension.

In August 2017, Campbell requested an internal affairs investigation of Casanova — citing “a concern presented by staff members of a hostile work environment” and potential insubordination. The assistant chief was temporarily removed from his responsibilities overseeing the New Haven Police Academy.

In November 2017, Casanova sued the city in federal court, claiming he was passed over for the position as chief, and that he was victim of “harassment due to his testimony on behalf of another officer who filed a discrimination complaint with the state,” according to the New Haven Register.

Casanova did not respond to a request for comment from the News.

White told the News that planning for the position’s recruitment process, which included hearings and forums, began on March 21. Two months later, the application opened nationally. The application deadline was June 15, 2018.

Among 25 other listed characteristics, the ideal candidate for the position of Bridgeport Police Chief must develop trust among the community, have cultural competency and must “walk the talk,” according to the job invitation for application.

The candidates must also possess a minimum of 10 years of law enforcement experience in a population of over 80,000 people with a minimum minority population of 25 percent , as well as a minimum five years of command experience. The state’s largest city has a population of 147,000, 78 percent of which are minorities, according to the released job application.

Perez, Bridgeport’s current acting chief of police who is one of the three finalists, has worked in the Bridgeport Police Department for 32 years. He was sworn in as acting chief in March 2016.

New Haven Police Department Communications Director David Hartman did not respond to a request for comment.

The official job application listed eleven “challenges and opportunities” for the potential chief, including the promotion and implementation of new body and dashboard cameras and the recruitment of a culturally diverse staff within the department.

Other panelists who interviewed the candidates include Hartford Police Chief David Rosadao, Former Greenwich and New London Human Resources Director Bernadette Welch, Labor Relations Director of University of Connecticut Health Caroline Beitman and Springfield Chief Administrative and Financial Officer Lee Erdmann. The panelists were assembled by executive search consultant Randi Frank.

“The complexity of contemporary policing requires the very thoughtful selection of police leaders to compete in the process, and some basic decisions about policing in the community they will serve,” Higgins told the News. He said it was an “honor” to serve alongside the esteemed panel of professionals.

In accordance with the City of Bridgeport Charter, the mayor will conduct his interview process with the finalists over the next few weeks.

The Bridgeport Police Department was founded in 1837.

Sammy Westfall | sammy.westfall@yale.edu