Former police captain now patrols Trumbull zoning regulations

TRUMBULL — What does a prominent Bridgeport police captain do after retiring with three decades of service under his belt?

For Brian Fitzgerald, long a staple with the Bridgeport police, he took another path entirely. He's now the Trumbull zoning enforcement officer.

"I went from a law enforcement career, retired as police captain after 26 years and it can get hectic at times, working long hours, working nights and weekends," Fitzgerald said. "And for my family life to be able to come into a job with stability, such a great office environment and so far such great people in the office, it's been refreshing."

Trumbull has lacked a zoning enforcement officer for nearly a year, following Doug Wenz's retirement in early 2022.

Fitzgerald, who left the Bridgeport police in early January, said he took the Trumbull job for better work-life balance. Still, he said there is a lot of overlap between being a zoning enforcement officer and a police officer. 

"I'm already finding out that a lot of it transfers over," he said. "You still have a lot of contact with the public. You're dealing with people, giving people advice."

Fitzgerald no longer responds to life-and-death situations. Instead, the job, which pays an annual salary of $90,623, requires a good understanding of town zoning codes and architectural plans. 

First Selectman Vicki Tesoro said Fitzgerald stood out due to his past as a cop. 

"His experience is a perfect fit for the position. He is a great addition to our staff in town hall," Tesoro said.

So far, Fitzgerald said he has had an easy start thanks the slower pace of work during the winter months. But he knows that once spring rolls around, he can expect a more hectic schedule. 

"I've already done everything just in the past week ... people parking commercial equipment on residential properties that are zoning violations that their neighbors have called in, to unkept properties where paint's peeling off houses or there's debris all over the yard," Fitzgerald said.

The job also entails ensuring work sites are complying with building permits. 

"I think it's been transferring pretty seamlessly for me because you know, the philosophy that I always had from the policing side, was to give people the benefit of doubt," he said.

The new hire has also been a benefit for Town Planner Rob Librandi, who was acting as interim ZEO after Wenz left his position.

"This will free me up to focus on the Planning and Zoning Commission, reviewing and inspecting commercial sites for redevelopment and more time to work on our affordable housing study as well as our Plan of Conservation and Development, which will be due next year, and our mall study," Librandi said.

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