Bridgeport religious leaders show support for police chief amid officer-involved incidents

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The heads of six congregations came together Thursday at the Bridgeport Police Department in support of Police Chief AJ Perez, who has recently come under attack after a series of controversies.

On Wednesday, Perez fired officer Steven Figueroa after he allegedly sexually assaulted his ex-girlfriend. It was the fourth time in two years the officer was accused of domestic violence.

Earlier this month, another department officer was caught on video striking a teen with a gun during a traffic stop.

MORE: Bridgeport police officer charged with sexual assault terminated by department | Bridgeport teen hit by officer’s pistol demands police accountability 

State Sen. Marilyn Moore, who recently appeared on News 12 Connecticut's Power & Politics, called for Perez to be fired.

"He has a contract. I don't believe in letting people have a contract and not do their job," said Moore. “I really want someone in place that really understands current policing policies."

Moore is running for mayor against incumbent Joe Ganim. The pastors say the attacks on Perez are merely election-season politics.

"We feel comfortable with [Perez], knowing that once this investigation has taken its toll, that he will come out and do the right thing,” says Imam Lyle Hassan Jones. “He has proven to do that before, so to call for the firing of the chief at this premature stage was just political."

The pastors also point out that Perez has a five-year contract, so he cannot just be arbitrarily fired.

Rev. Dr. Herron Gaston says Perez has “done an impeccable job of engaging the community.”

The Democratic primary is set to be held next month.

Both Perez and Ganim declined to comment, except to say they appreciate the support of the pastors.

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