Bridgeport police taking new measures to curb violence

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Tim Fleischer rode along exclusively with Bridgeport police hitting the streets to curb violence.

The city of Bridgeport is requesting assistance from Connecticut State Police in dealing with recent violence that has put officials and residents on high alert.

The Bridgeport Police Department has also diverted officers from various specialized units to keep tabs on the growing problem that's been plaguing the city.

Chief Armando Perez says the recent acquittal of members of the Green Boyz gang in three murder trials may spur other gang members to go out and cause more violence.

Perez says he's doing everything possible to curb the gang violence in Bridgeport. The officers reassigned to department's patrol unit will be dispatched to areas identified as a high risk for gun violence.

We went on an exclusive ride-along with Bridgeport police.

On patrol, Lt. William Mayer of the patrol division was also on the lookout. "Recently there have been some shootings," he said.

And a recent spike in gun violence, thought to be at the hands of teenagers in Bridgeport, is bringing greater concern among police.

"That small percentage is driving the crime and it's driving it up," said Perez.

The most recent shooting came nine days ago when 13 people were hurt after shooters opened fire at a party.

Police believe the gunmen were hiding before starting to shoot into the crowd of 100 people. Most of the victims were shot in their legs. Two people were shot in the face.

"By the grace of God nobody died the other night," said Perez. "We have a good solid lead and I'm hoping to make arrests pretty soon."

But Perez, a 33-year-veteran of the force, is committed to stopping the violence. Starting Wednesday he suspended three specialty units and added 12 more officers to patrol.

"There were zero incidents. We made a number of arrests. We are covering the city very aggressively," he said.

Police believe there are small groups of teenagers responsible for the gun violence, not specifically gangs. The chief has asked for state and federal help.

"To reassure the good people who live in this city that we are not burying our heads in the sand. We are being proactive with everything we have in order to protect them," said Perez.

In other neighborhoods like Stratford Avenue, police have also been working with community groups to keep the violence levels down.

"The chief is going to address those concerns," said Ted Meekins, a member of the East End Community Council. "They are very positive efforts. The community supports the chief. The community wants a safe community. And our children are entitled to a safe community."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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