2 suspended from Bridgeport PD for ‘not following’ chief’s orders
BRIDGEPORT — A Bridgeport Police lieutenant and sergeant who discovered the body of a colleague who committed suicide were suspended this week for not following orders, Chief Armando Perez confirmed Friday.
Lt. Ronald Mercado and Sgt. James Geremiah were suspended without pay for not following orders, Perez said. He did not specify what those orders were, but the chief said he expected the two cops’ work status to be switched during the next few days from suspended to on administrative leave with pay.
Mercado and Geremiah could not be reached Friday for comment. They discovered the body of Sgt. Mark Belinkie at his home in Milford on March 2. Police said Belinkie committed suicide.
“(Belinkie’s suicide) was a critical incident,” Perez said. “It has saddened and shaken all the members of the Bridgeport Police Department.”
Perez said that disciplining Mercado and Geremiah was not necessarily related to them finding Belinkie, but that they were suspended for recently “not following the chief’s orders.”
But the chief also said, “I’ve mandated that they see a psychologist” through the Employee Assistance Program offered to police officers in Bridgeport, he said.
“There’s things that we have available to us, and we’re trying to do whatever can to support them,” said Sgt. Chuck Paris, head of the police union, on Friday.
Geremiah and Mercado were home during their suspensions, Perez said.
Belinkie was the second of two members of the Bridgeport Police Department to commit suicide within a 15-month period. Officer Thomas Lattanzio killed himself on Dec. 4, 2017. Both men were among 17 city officers cited for wrongdoing in a recently released Office of Internal Affairs report about police intervention at a 2017 party. There has been no direct evidence linking thir deaths to the incident or the investigation.
Paris declined Friday to discuss specifics of the suspensions.
“I believe the suspension is going to be reversed and put into administrative status,” Paris said.
He said the suspensions had not yet affected pay for the two men, and that if the status change were made during the current pay period, Mercado nor Geremiah would not lose money.
The decision to suspend them had not been made lightly, Perez said.
“I needed to send a message that we all need to follow the guidelines of this department to keep everyone safe,” he said.
The chief said his actions were not meant to demean Mercado and Geremiah.
“They’re not bad cops,” he said.