BRIDGEPORT — The city is on pace to have the lowest levels of certain types of crime since at least 2019, according to Police Department statistics.
Police Chief Roderick Porter, in his most recent “Porter’s Corner” Facebook Live video update, detailed the city’s 2022 crime statistics through the first 51 weeks of the year.
Porter, who joined the Bridgeport police in 1993, beat out 18 other candidates, including Acting Chief Rebeca Garcia, in a national search to replace former Chief Armando “A.J.” Perez.
Garcia had led the department for more than two years after Perez’s arrest for rigging the previous chief search that resulted in his promotion to top cop. She announced her retirement last month after declining an offer to be an assistant chief under Porter.
Garcia had touted the lower crime rate this fall in several community meetings held with the police chief candidates, which also included Capt. Lonnie Blackwell.
In an 11-minute video, Porter cited statistics showing crime overall fell about 27 percent from 2021, with 1,480 incidents this year compared to 2,034 last year.
“So you see we had a pretty good year,” Porter said. “And we don’t want to rest on our laurels, but I did want to congratulate all the members of the Bridgeport Police Department.”
Broken down by type, homicides in the city fell from 20 to 16, and robberies decreased by a third, from 403 to 272.
The biggest drop was in burglaries, which dropped 42 percent, from 415 to 240.
Rapes, assaults, larcenies and vehicle thefts also saw significant reductions of between 16 percent and 24 percent from 2021 to 2022, Porter said.
The police also seized 97 guns in 90 separate gun-related arrests, Porter said.
“This is all the result of hard work by all the members of the Bridgeport Police Department,” he said.
Homicide rates in the city have been fairly consistent in recent years. After peaking at 62 in 1990, the number of annual homicides has stayed around 17 per year for the past decade.
In an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media, Porter touted Operation Wingspan, a $5 million collaboration between the city, suburban towns and the FBI, targeting vehicle theft as contributing to the crime decrease.
Porter also pointed to the city’s use of ShotSpotter gunshot sensors in allowing police to quickly respond to shooting incidents, and the Fusion Center, which is staffed around the clock to monitor over a thousand cameras in the city.
“They’re able to focus in our cameras on certain areas, and we’re able to see activity going on and direct officers to those areas in a much more timely manner,” Porter said of the facility, located in the Morton Government Center downtown.
In his Facebook live, Porter also called for greater community involvement in making further reductions, urging residents to be aware of their surroundings.
“We could do even better with our crime statistics if we get more community involvement,” he said. “If you have information please share it with the Bridgeport Police Department.”
He added that plans to resume community meetings will give opportunities to provide input. The department also is planning ways to regularly share crime data with the public next year, Porter said.
“You will know as we go throughout the year how the crime looks in your particular neighborhood,” he said.
Police also plans to use new software to analyze crime data and be more “predictive” in determining where certain types of crimes are occurring.
After explaining the department’s goals for 2023, Porter fielded questions from the public. Questions ranged from avoiding becoming a victim to his plans to reduce response times.
In particular, he said response times can vary depending on the type of call. For example, robberies and felony assault, what he called “Part 1 crimes” take priority, as do domestic violence calls, shootings, and traffic crashes with injuries.
In such cases, police typically respond in less than 11 minutes.
For lower priority calls, like a break-in at an unoccupied building, the wait could be longer, he said.
He said the department’s staffing levels, which have been a source of frustration and led to an ongoing recruitment drive that saw the department add 21 officers in about five months, are partially to blame for longer response times on lower priority calls.
“As we get more manpower, that’ll help us. And coming into the new year, we’re going to be looking at ways that we can realign our officers in a way that will make us more efficient,” Porter told Hearst Connecticut.
Bridgeport City Council Member Jeanette Herron, who serves the southern part of the city’s North End neighborhood, called the drop in crime a “sign that our police department is doing a great job.”
She also alluded to how Bridgeport police have been losing officers to other departments, with health care costs being one of the reasons officers have given for leaving the city.
“But overall, whether they’re unhappy or not, they do their job. And I have to give them a lot of credit,” Herron said.