New Haven’s police department has decided for now to turn down an offer to be featured on an A&E true-crime show.
Interim Chief Anthony Campbell informed the Board of Police Commissioners of that decision Thursday night, at a meeting that also featured updates on promotions of sergeants and lieutenants.
Campbell informed the board at its monthly meeting at 1 Union Ave. that the program “Live PD” asked New Haven for permission to assign a crew to follow two officers on their rounds for a week. Campbell said the department considered the offer for several reasons. It would bring the department $3,500 per episode. It could help recruit future cops by highlighting the good work done in New Haven. And it could boost morale by gaining positive national publicity. The city’s corporation counsel’s office reviewed the proposed contract from the program’s producers.
But the downsides to participating ended up winning the day. Campbell said that Bridgeport’s department participated in the program, and city leaders felt it made their community look bad. And Campbell said he worried about the danger of bad publicity for New Haven or embarrassment of individual officers. So he told “Live PD” no.
“They may come back at another time” to try again, he said.
Bridgeport stopped participating in the program after a Dec. 2 segment captured the death of an infant. The episode showed a sergeant tearing up about the “heartbreaking” scene.
“The program was giving Bridgeport an inaccurate national reputation; inflating the prevalence of crime in the Park City in a way that can deter potential investors and people from living or doing business here,” Mayor Joe Ganim said in a statement reported in this Connecticut Post article. “We don’t want the first impression of Bridgeport from a national audience to be unfairly associated with crime and miss the whole picture of beauty, industriousness and vitality that we represent.”
Filling In The Ranks
Campbell also offered an update on continuing efforts to fill depleted supervisory ranks. Ninety-four cops took the recent sergeant’s exam; the department currently has seven openings in that rank. Campbell said that in two weeks he expects the results of the test, and expects to promote seven officers to sergeant on April 28.
Meanwhile, he plans to send 25 of the applicants for the position to train for it, to have them ready for slots expected to open in the near future. Ten sergeants will probably move up to lieutenant positions soon. (The test for those positions is on March 31 and April 1.) And three sergeants are expected to retire by the end of the fiscal year.
Commission Chair Anthony Dawson praised the idea of preparing more future sergeants to fill ranks quickly. “We’ll be ahead of the curve,” he said.
The department plans to graduate a new class of rookies on May 12 and formally begin recruiting the next class on June 1.
Campbell also said the department is on track to meet a June 30 deadline to order body cameras for all officers. He said he wants to conduct one more trial run in April or May to nail down which company to buy the cameras from.
Sgt. Rose Dell of the internal affairs division reported that she has been amending a general order on use of OC (pepper) spray at protests, to change language that authorizes officers to deploy it against “passive resisters,” meaning nonviolent protesters like those at a demonstration last month on the Route 34 Connector.