Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim is sending a message to the Bridgeport Police Department that treating deceased Black women like their lives didn’t matter will not be tolerated—and all it took was a protest, a lawsuit, the launching of a criminal investigation, celebrity calls for justice on behalf of Lauren Smith-Fields and a second Black woman being found dead.
“The Bridgeport Police Department has high standards for officer sensitivity especially in matters involving the death of a family member,” Ganim said in a video statement. “It is an unacceptable failure if policies were not followed. To the families, friends and all who care about the human decency that should be shown in these situations in this case by members of the Bridgeport Police Department, I am very sorry.”
Not only has Ganim apologized to the families of Smith-Fields and 53-year-old Brenda Lee Rawls—another Black woman who was mysteriously found dead in Bridgeport the same day Smith-Fields’ body was found, and also after visiting a man—he has also suspended two Bridgeport detectives involved in the women’s cases.
According to WTNH News 8, Ganim said he directed Deputy Chief James Baraja to place Detectives Angel Llanos and Kevin Cronin on administrative leave pending a Bridgeport Police Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) investigation into what the mayor described as a “lack of sensitivity to the public and failure to follow police policy in the handling of these two matters.”
“I want to thank Attorney Crossland, and the families, and the thousands of others for reaching out asking the questions that needed to be asked and that still need answers,” Ganim continued. “I as mayor, but also as a father, cannot fully comprehend what you must be going through. I can only pledge my continued support to try to ease your pain by getting answers and holding those responsible accountable.”
According to Ct Post, Ganim also said in his statement that the supervisory officer who was in charge of overseeing the two cases retired from the department as of Friday. (Hopefully, it was a forced retirement.)
Who knows what, if anything, will come out of the internal affairs investigation or whether further action will be taken against the detectives, but regardless of how things shake out, their suspensions show the power of protests and our refusal to allow Black lives to be treated as disposable.
But that doesn’t mean an investigation is enough. We can’t stop until we’re satisfied justice has happened.
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