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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

[CT] IACP instructed not to follow its own domestic abuse policy?

...2 City Council members are asking the Board of Police Commissioners to adopt a zero-tolerance policy whereby anyone with a history of domestic violence is prohibited from becoming a police officer or being promoted in the department... (Councilmembers) Walsh and Pivirotto said the IACP was instructed not to follow its own domestic abuse policy when screening Bridgeport applicants. But (Mayor) Fabrizi said that accusation is a "horrendous statement to make," and denied anyone manipulated the process...

Secrecy surrounds 3 top cop hopefuls
BILL CUMMINGS
bcummings@ctpost.com
The Bridgeport Post
12/20/2005 04:38:48 AM

BRIDGEPORT - There are three finalists for the city's police chief's job, but officials remain mum over who they are.

Candidates are undergoing background checks and, if nothing negative turns up, their names will be forwarded to Mayor John M. Fabrizi for a final choice. The names could be presented to the mayor within two weeks, officials said.

Meanwhile, two City Council members are asking the Board of Police Commissioners to adopt a zero-tolerance policy whereby anyone with a history of domestic violence is prohibited from becoming a police officer or being promoted in the department.

The proposal follows controversy over Provisional Police Chief Anthony Armeno, who is a candidate for permanent appointment as chief, although it is not known if he is one of the finalists. Armeno was disciplined departmentally, but not arrested, 10 years ago for several incidents of alleged domestic violence against a female colleague.

Armeno has been criticized because of that past record, and some critics have demanded he not be considered for the job. If the proposed zero-tolerance policy were in effect when applicants had been solicited for the chief's job, Armeno would not have been able to apply, said City Council member Robert Walsh, who is co-sponsoring the policy along with Elaine Pivirotto, his colleague in the 132nd District.

The proposed policy mirrors standards adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and is being forwarded to the police board for consideration. The IACP conducted the search for candidates for police chief.

That search was conducted in secret, and city officials have refused to reveal any of the applicants' names, marking a sharp break with past practice. Former Mayor Joseph P. Ganim's administration released the names of semifinalists and identified the final three candidates during a similar process in 2000, when Wilbur Chapman was hired as chief.

Ganim is now serving nine years in prison for racketeering and other crimes, and Chapman left last year after the police panel refused to extend his contract.

Fabrizi said the city's personnel director, acting on advice from the city attorney, ruled that the candidates' names could not be released because it would violate privacy laws.

The mayor said he has no control over that decision. When pressed, he said he would ask Personnel Director Ralph Jacobs to seek permission from the finalists to release their names.

Asked why the names had been made public in the past, Jacobs said, "We now have a better understanding of Freedom of Information law."
Walsh said the city should release the names.

"It's important so the working press can do its job and do some background checks, or use their contacts with other papers," he said. "It's important for people to know who the candidates are and if there is anything questionable in their backgrounds."

Walsh and Pivirotto said the IACP was instructed not to follow its own domestic abuse policy when screening Bridgeport applicants.

But Fabrizi said that accusation is a "horrendous statement to make," and denied anyone manipulated the process.

Jacobs also said the IACP was given no instructions regarding candidates or issues, such as domestic abuse.

Jacobs said the three finalists represent the top three scorers on a battery of tests given to all applicants.

Fabrizi and Jacobs both said the city should consider Walsh's proposed zero-tolerance policy.

"There are some good things in that policy," Jacobs said, referring to the IACP's rule.

"If something was nailed down, it would be an advantage," Jacobs said. "It's an important issue that may not be adequately addressed. We should look at it and see if it is, or isn't." Walsh said the policy would help ease fears that someone with a history of domestic abuse could end up running the Police Department.

"This policy will not only allay fears, but it also places in motion a process to deal with the problem," Walsh said.

Bill Cummings, who covers regional issues, can be reached at 330-6230.

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