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Bridgeport’s NAACP wants an investigation into the police response to deaths of two women

Bridgeport Police Department
Bridgeport Police Department
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The Greater Bridgeport NAACP said it wants a string of measures, including a federal investigation, to address the city’s police response to the deaths of two Black women.

“Lack of sensitivity in each case to family and friends, a lack of professionalism in conducting policy and an apparent disregard for the civil rights of these Black women is a gross disservice to their families and the community at large,” said Rev. Stanley Lord, president of the Greater Bridgeport NAACP.

Both women died on December 12, and their families said police didn’t adequately notify them. Lauren Smith-Fields was pronounced dead after a man she met on a dating app said he found her unresponsive. Her family said police left a note on her door with a number for them to call.

And 54-year-old Brenda Lee Rawls was also found in her house on the same day. Rawls’ family members also said they were not notified of her death in a timely manner.

Mayor Joe Ganim announced last week that the city put two detectives on administrative leave.

“Insensitivity, disrespect in action or deviation from policy will not be tolerated by me or others in this administration,” Ganim said in a statement.

State Representative C.L. Stallworth of Bridgeport said that’s not enough.

“To send someone home with pay is not discipline,” Stallworth said. “I don’t know anyone who would not appreciate a couple weeks off or a couple months off with a paycheck. And that band-aid cannot work any longer.”

Lord said the Greater Bridgeport NAACP wants to meet with Justice Department officials, as well as Ganim.

“This is a bold but important move to protect public lives, regain lost trust and respect and to set department on a new course,” Lord said.

He said they will ask the national NAACP to send attorneys to investigate potential civil rights violations. They also called on the Bridgeport City Council to investigate the department.

Ganim said he’s changing the way police handle death notifications, and said both deaths are under investigation.

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