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Bridgeport police chief promises to push for body cams, training programs

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BRIDGEPORT -

Community leaders gathered in Bridgeport Thursday night to push for body cameras for the city's police officers, and discuss other important issues.

The issue of transparency has gained steam after a Bridgeport officer allegedly shot and killed 15-year-old Jayson Negron six months ago. That theme of transparency was echoed during the meeting.

While the friends and family of Negron say progress within the police department has been made, they still believe there's more that can be done.

"We want to recognize some efforts, but we need Chief  [AJ]  Perez to rise with us and offer strong leadership that this city needs," said Pastor Anthony Bennett, of Mt. Aery Baptist Church.

More than 150 community leaders from CONECT (Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut) met with Chief Perez at the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center Thursday. 

In addition to acquiring body cameras, the group is also calling for transparency during investigations into police use of force and de-escalation training for all officers. They showed a cellphone video of what appears to be an officer using excessive force on a teenager.

Chief Perez said that he was "ashamed when I saw that video."

"I placed that officer on administrative status and I ordered an internal affairs investigation. I took her gun. I took her badge. I took everything I could take from her and I barred her from entering the Bridgeport Police Department."

Perez then committed to providing a plan for the rollout of anti-biased, anti-racial training programs for both new and veteran officers by March 2018. He also committed to providing 100 veteran officers with de-escalation training by May 2018. He also promised to apply for state funding for police body cameras by the end of next week and called on CONECT to unite with the police department to make Bridgeport a better place to live.

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