NAACP Calls for Federal Investigation of Bridgeport Police Department

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Greater Bridgeport Area National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to step in to investigate the Bridgeport Police Department.

The organization expressed concerns about the state of the department and how there has been a "lack of professionalism and sensitivity" in regard to the families of both victims.

Lauren Smith-Fields' family tells NBC Connecticut the police department did not contact them after Lauren had died, and the family says they found out about the death of the 23-year-old through Lauren's landlord.

Lauren Smith-Fields
Obtained by NBC New York
Lauren Smith-Fields family is outraged and disgusted at how they say the Bridgeport Police Department has investigated the mysterious death of the 23-year-old.

A similar instance happened across town with Brenda Rawls, whose family tells NBC Connecticut they, too, had to go searching to find out their loved one died and found out through another person who they believe their loved one was with before she died.

Both victims died in Bridgeport on December 12.

The NAACP tells us that both victims had their civil rights violated and the police department had a lack of professionalism and sensitivity when dealing with both families.

Brenda Rawls
Family Photo
Brenda Rawls died in December 12 of last year.

"It is impactful, as you’re already grieving, you’re already in the dumps because you’re loved one is gone, but to have to find out days later, that you have to go searching for them, it’s a major problem," said Rev. Stanley Lord, president of the Greater Bridgeport Area NAACP. "It tells you there’s a major problem because if you have two incidents, you think 'oh, maybe they happened in one case they didn’t notify,' but you had two.”

The group would like to see diverse leadership within the police department and more sensitivity towards families.

Brenda Rawls' sister spoke with NBC Connecticut about the changes she would like to see, on Wednesday.

The Bridgeport Police Department issued a statement in response to the NAACP's calls for the Department of Justice and changes inside of the police department.

"The Bridgeport Police Department serves its residents and all members of our community regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or religion. Members of the Bridgeport Police Department are hired and promoted based upon a competitive Civil Service exam process.”

A breakdown of Bridgeport's Police Department's demographics and top ranks. Source: Bridgeport Police Department.
A breakdown of Bridgeport's Police Department's demographics and top ranks. Source: Bridgeport Police Department.

On Thursday, the police department and the city announced that they have filled their vacant victim's service coordinator. The role will serve as the point of contact for the community when a violent crime takes place.

The attorney representing both families, Darnell Crosland, spoke about the announcement.

Attorney Darnell Crossland (right) with Lauren Smith-Fields' mother and two brothers.

"I think that it’s helpful, if the police aren’t sensitive enough to reach out to people, now they have a dedicated department, even in cases where there’s no arrest," said Crosland.

NBC Connecticut reached out to Connecticut State Police to ask if they were going to be brought in to help with the investigation and they said they can only assist if Fairfield's State's Attorney's Office requests their help.

Contact Us