Religious group opposed to officers' demotion over letter

A group of religious leaders in Bridgeport is opposed to a recent decision by the city's police department to demote two senior officers.

The president of the Inter-Denominational Ministerial Alliance, Pastor and state Representative Charlie Stallworth, says the punishment by Bridgeport Police Chief AJ Perez was too severe, considering that a state investigation cleared both officers.

Perez says he had to take serious action because he says the officers were deliberately stirring racial tensions in the department by taking part in the distribution of an anonymous hate letter that said "white power."

"This was a very severe disciplinary action," Stallworth said in a news conference Sunday. "You have some officers in the Bridgeport Police Department who have done far worse and got less of a punishment."

Stallworth says that while both men were cleared by a state investigation, an internal probe still found them at fault.

"This press conference is to challenge the Bridgeport Police Department to be fair with all cases," Stallworth says. "And whatever the norm is for discipline, make it the norm for everybody."

Perez says while he went out of his way to be fair to both officers, he cannot overlook the fact that the letter in question fostered a culture of racism.

"It was something created to make it look like the Bridgeport Police Department was a racist department and that's far from the truth," he says. "We are a family. We are good people."

According to Perez, "the rules of evidence for the state investigation and the internal police probe were totally different, which is why the results were so different."

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