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By Charlie Grady - Guest Blogger
We met Charlie Grady when he became the Bridgeport Project Manager for Project Longevity. He became a regular at the Bridgeport Reentry Roundtable and in very short order we were all enriched by his breadth of experience. - Jeff
On a hot summer night in the year 2000 in a suburban neighborhood of Hamden, CT. A narcotics Detective sits at the kitchen table with the young man who rented the house that CT. State Police and the FBI had just raided. The house has been turned inside out during the search for heroin. Over $10,000 worth of the drugs were found tagged and bagged. The man, Freddie Williams Jr. is handcuffed and overcome by emotion as the Detective talks and he listens. Freddie begins to speak and acknowledges the drugs are his and that he knew what he was doing was wrong on many levels. After about 45 minutes the Detective is heard to say if you truly want to change, I will help you because I believe you have just turned a corner in your life right here and now.
That Detective was me and after a short court battle Freddie Williams Jr. and I took a journey together and changed his life. Today he owns his own 18 wheeler truck and several homes and travels the country. Despite being an ex-offender he has been able to be a successful example of change and I’m proud to call him my friend. As of this date I can honestly say that I have helped more people change their lives for the better than I have had to imprison due to their own life’s choices. Since Freddie, there have been countless others that I have worked with to help them be better in this life.
At 8 or 9 yrs old I saw my first dead body, a female prostitute that had been strangled with her own nylons. My father a police officer told me to stay in the car but of course I didn’t and I saw what he tried to protect me from seeing. I grew up with drug and alcohol addiction in my family like most Americans and had to always make choices on how to live my life. I was one of the fortunate ones with guidance and insight that helped me make good decisions and choices.
At 14 yrs old while hanging out with my slightly older but much “wiser in the streets” cousin. I was confronted with what is probably the most profound moment in my adolescence. “To smoke crack or Not to smoke crack”….. That was the question?? I recall literally feeling as if I were at a crossroad. I turned right and my cousin turned left. He still struggles today with his addiction and I chose to abstain. I have fought over 25 yrs keep drugs off our city streets and will continue to do so as long as I’m able.
I wasn’t poor growing up, nor did I have to struggle but I never took what I had for granted nor did I feel superior to anyone. I make it a point to treat everyone with the same degree of respect that I want in return. My father and many of my uncles were cops. Not just cops but a very special breed of cop, they were “beat cops”. Back then cops was an acceptable term all around. My father knew everyone and everyone knew his name even if they didn’t know him directly. I recall that he would deliver toys and food to families that had nothing in New Haven. I was a child but he would take me along to share in holidays with those families in the spirit of giving. To this day I’m still very close with many of those families. I had great examples of how to be a doer so that’s what I plan to always be… a doer.
I retired in 2002 from a very privileged 21 yr. law enforcement career and worked in private industry for eight years in security and investigative positions. In 2010, the US Attorney’s Office hired me to be the District of CT’s first “In house” Federal Investigator and in July 2012, I went on to become the Project Manager for Project Longevity Bridgeport. The work I do today is just a continuation of my public service. I have always recognized that I should help those less fortunate than I while I have the ability to do so. If I didn’t it would be a waste of a gift and opportunity. I have been blessed to work with an incredible group of people throughout the state and especially in Bridgeport. This city is a community that works very hard to shed any past negativity and uplift each and every resident. It is thru this positive energy and love that I receive from this special breed of people makes it easy to go to work every day and help bring about change. I will forever remain humble and know that we all need each other to survive and together we will forever overcome adversity.
“For me there is no greater feeling than believing in someone and having your belief validated" - Charlie Grady
Charlie Grady is a life time resident of CT, with a very diverse background. He is a highly decorated retired police detective and federal task force agent in CT. He was awarded “Officer of the year” several times for his dedication to community affairs in CT. He also founded a youth group in the Town of Hamden in 1993 called “Highwood Youth Association” that focused on helping local youth at risk. In the mid 90’s, Mr. Grady created and hosted a local talk show called “Black & White in Focus” that dealt with race relations in CT. He is an accomplished professional film, stage, and television actor and has appeared in major motion pictures and popular television shows such as “Law & Order," “Guiding Light," and "All My Children.” Mr. Grady also spent many years conducting corporate investigations for a Fortune 500 company here in CT. Most of his 27 year law enforcement career has been spent investigating violent crimes, homicides, and drug and violent gangs throughout the state and nationwide. He has also dedicated his life to educating police officers and civilians on the methods and dangers of illicit street drug trafficking, gun trafficking, as well as prescription fraud & diversion. His list of accomplishments and dedication the to community and law enforcement made him the ideal candidate to be the first US Attorney’s Senior Investigator for the District of CT. While serving in that capacity Mr. Grady was a very active participant in the US Attorney’s Community Outreach Team and helped to produce the educational film “5K Motion.” The film deals with women’s roles in gun violence among many other social issues. In 2013, Mr. Grady was chosen to head Bridgeport’s “Project Longevity” initiative. Mr. Grady continues to conduct public speaking engagements statewide on a multitude of topics based on his varied life experiences.
To reach Charlie Grady: (203) 696-3049,
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director(o) 203-769-1096
Lynn Springer, Founding Advocate, Innocent Spouse & Children Project
George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
Jim Gabal, Development
Babz Rawls Ivy, Media Contact
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