Bridgeport’s top cop cashes in on owed time
BRIDGEPORT — Before he made a career out of policing, Chief Armando Perez took some college courses to go into banking.
All these years later, he is banking a sizable payout from his 28 years with Bridgeport’s Finest.
According to the mayor’s office, Perez received $171,830 — $122,017 after taxes — a few days ago for unused vacation, personal and sick days, holidays and for compensatory time as part of the recent contract making him Bridgeport’s permanent police chief.
Perez, who gradually worked his way up through the ranks to captain, was made acting top cop in March 2016 by good friend Mayor Joe Ganim. Ganim, following a national search, then offered a permanent contract to Perez late last year.
At the chief’s request, that deal, which was ultimately approved by the city council, provided Perez two payments for time off accrued since he joined the department — money that officers in the union typically receive upon retirement. Becoming permanent chief excluded Perez from the union, so he was able to request his payout now.
As of Friday, the city had not provided additional details to Hearst Connecticut Media about the remaining amount of money owed to Perez.
But the chief said in an interview that same day that he requested three payments, rather than two, and he thought the remaining two payouts would be $80,000 each, after taxes, bringing his after taxes total to $282,017.
That’s is a sizable amount, though still short of the controversial $308,639 that ex-Deputy Chief James Honis was paid last March when he retired after 47 years on the beat having taken only six sick days.
Perez, who has two children, said that years ago he decided to start planning to pay for their college education by banking his time off.
“(It is) something the city offered and I took advantage,” Perez said Friday. “I saved.”
The initial $171,830 payout was broken down by the mayor’s office as follows: $74,056 for unused holidays; $71,511 for unused compensatory time instead of overtime pay; $18,880 unused sick days; $6,712 for unused vacation time; and $671 worth of unused personal days.
The value of all of that accrued time was based on Perez’s salary as acting chief — $145,428. Councilman Kyle Langan has a problem with that.
Langan last year had questioned whether Perez would be paid out based on what he earned as acting chief, or the around $110,000 he earned as captain. Langan never received an answer.
“The chief isn’t a union position; neither is acting chief,” Langan said Friday after learning the details of Perez’s payout. “So if the agreement is, when you leave the union you’re able to have a payout of all your unused time, you should be paid based on your last union position, which (for Perez) was captain.”
And doing that in Perez’s case would save money for the taxpayers, Langan said.
“He’d still be making out very well,” Langan said.
Perez confirmed that he was not a union member when acting chief. However, he said, he still paid union dues for a time during that period.