Officials scramble to fix charges against Sacred Heart students

Bridgeport's police chief blames paperwork and mistakes for dozens of students being charged with misdemeanors.

Bridgeport's police chief blames paperwork and mistakes for dozens of students being charged with misdemeanors. (5/31/16)

BRIDGEPORT - Bridgeport's police chief is working to fix a mistake that could leave dozens of college students with criminal records.

About 80 Sacred Heart University students were arrested for using fake identification cards at the Golden Star Cafe on Main Street in Bridgeport in April.

Police Chief A.J. Perez says his officers meant to issue the students $200 fines, but officers mistakenly charged students under an offense that hasn't been on the books for four years. 

Court clerks then upgraded the charges to misdemeanors without consulting police, according to Perez.

"You have a template that you use, and somebody did not look at the template," says Perez. "These are still kids; they're not fully developed. We want to send our message, but we don't want to hurt anybody."

Perez is working with prosecutors to fix the problem. "If we have to reissue the summonses somehow, we will," says Perez. 

Perez also blames the errors on the amount of paperwork officers had to complete by hand. He says modernizing the police department is a priority for him.

The students currently have court dates for August.

The students were arrested on the same night that two off-duty Bridgeport police officers were working the door at the establishment, allegedly letting the underage drinkers inside. Perez expects an investigation of those officers' actions to be finished within days.

"Once I have it, I'm going to move very swiftly and certain," says Perez. "And it's going to hurt."

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