1. #1
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    Jun 2004

    Default City of Brigeport Ct giving Felons second Chances

    Peeler pal highly rated for fire post

    By AARON LEO aleo@ctpost.com

    BRIDGEPORT — Earl King Jr., who served a federal prison sentence for bagging crack cocaine for the Peeler drug ring, is among the top 20 candidates to become city firefighters.

    Russell and Adrian Peeler were convicted for their roles in the brutal 1999 slayings of Karen Clarke and her 8-year-old son, Leroy "B.J." Brown Jr., in their Bridgeport home.

    King, the son of a city police detective who grew up and played Little League baseball with Adrian Peeler, testified at his murder trial.

    Another convicted felon, Edward Valderrama, of Old Town Road, is also on the list, ranking 91st. King is ranked 16.

    City civil service standards since 1936 have barred convicted felons from being firefighters. However, there is no such prohibition in city regulations or in the City Charter.

    But after naming the ex-convicts last month to the hiring list, the Civil Service Commission voted Wednesday night to review the decision at an Aug. 10 special meeting in City Hall.

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    The panel then tabled the issues after a closed 2-hour session.

    "I had discussions with the city attorney's office and several things came to our attention," John C. Colligan, the city's former civil service director, said Wednesday before entering the session closed to the public.

    Colligan, who opposed the appointments, continues in office pending selection of a replacement.

    "This was a decision of a very significant nature," he said, noting that Fire Chief Michael Maglione was not consulted at first about the appointments.

    He added that the Police Department's Office of Internal Affairs, which conducts criminal background checks for the civil service office, has since presented new information.

    Valderrama's lawyer, John Gulash, and King's lawyer, Susan Wallace, both chose closed sessions for discussion of their clients' cases. The reason for Valderrama's conviction was not known.

    Maglione addressed the commission during the closed session.

    Leaders of two minority firefighter groups, the Firebirds and the International Association of Black Fire Fighters, attended the meeting to support the candidates.

    Critics of the appointments at the session were lawyer for the Bridgeport Firefighters for Merit Employment, a group dedicated to adhering to civil service rules of hiring and promotion and one of 19 white firefighter candidates suing numerous city officials, boards and agencies for alleged violations of their civil rights.

    They are also challenging the fairness of the testing process. The two felons are ranked higher than the 19 white candidates.

    Rankings are based on scores from an oral exam.

    Colligan told a reporter asking Wednesday to review the two convicts' applications to send a written request to the civil service office. He said he needed to seek legal advice about the possibility of releasing those records.

    In response to another question, Colligan said he did not know of anyone lying on the criminal background section of the civil service applications.

    Aaron Leo, who covers regional issues, can be reached at 330-6222.

  2. #2
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    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Aug 2000
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!


    I just pray that the acquaintences of the Peeler boys don't decide to do a driveby capping where the *felonfighter is stationed.

    *I for one will not call him a firefighter.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  3. #3
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    Mar 2004

    Default Future of fire service

    It is no secret to those of us familiar with cities like Bridgeport, that they will bend every civil service rule to diversify their department. Bridgeport firefighters will advise you that if you are in fact caucasian you have little or no chance of being hired. I believe in fairness and equality in the hiring process, not discrimination or reverse-discrimination. Why does the fire service still hire based on color? Do we not realize that it is 2004? We need to hire based on an applicants qualifications and desire to be a firefighter. Fire has no prejudice when it is rolling down the hallways! Felons as firefighters… is this diversification or lowering the standards of America's Fire Service? Is this the direction we want to head in?

  4. #4
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    Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Mar 2000


    You know, I've thought about it for awhile -- here's my take:

    If you want to provide a second chance to felons (after completetion of probation, yadda yadda) do it in somewhere like Public Works or Sanitation.

    Fire side has priveleges -- like crime scene access for EMS and the ability to do inspections (what a great way to case the joint...) as well as a public trust. That type of stuff are a great temptation to someone whose already shown a lack of self-control.
    IACOJ Canine Officer

  5. #5
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    May 2003


    I think the issue of hiring felons almost has to be done on an individual basis. There are a lot of variables. For one, did he only commit one crime or is he a repeat felon?
    Someone could have been young and got caught up in the wrong crowd. He messed up and broke a law and did his time in prison. He's now paid society for his crime. Maybe his time in prison really opened his eyes and he realized that wasn't the life for him. Now's he's not a young dumb kid anymore and he's more mature. Maybe he's even a religious man now. I think that type of person deserves a chance to be a firefighter.
    Granted, every felon isn't like that. I'm not sure what the statistics are, but I'm sure some guys reform in prison while others just keep going back.

  6. #6

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    Apr 2004
    Monroe, CT, United States


    I really think this is BULLS#%T!!!! How can Bridgeport hire these convicted felons over people that I know personaly that have never done anything remotely wrong....(maybe a speeding ticket, if that) Why do they hire these people...why...It makes no sense to me. Is bridgeport afraid of another B/S lawsuit (the race thing) Its all messed up. Here I go getting all heated up. I should stop now before I say something really bad about these F-up felons. Its just BULL!!!
    I don't want to hear excuses. I want to see results.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2003


    Here's my take on this.In this age of 'accelerated rehabilitation',D.A.s' making deals, and slippery lawyers, very rarely is someone sent to a federal penitentiary for being a first time offender.They have a history going back a long time.I won't work with the sh*tbag if he/she comes on the job.I haven't had a lock on my locker for 16 years, and I don't plan on starting now.We are constantly in residences and businesses all time of day and night.We are often in situations where moral and legal virtues are neccesary.You have to be able to count on the person next to you.Being a firefighter used to stand for something,a person of quality.I've seen this department go too far downhill already,next they'll be giving serial killers extra points on the entrance exam.May God protect us.

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