BRIDGEPORT — The mayor has reorganized some of the city’s top cops, eliminating the controversial second in command, and further sidelining Police Chief Joseph Gaudett.

Assistant Police Chief James Nardozzi was the main casualty of Friday’s order from returned Mayor Joe Ganim: The mayor eliminated Nardozzi’s $123,420 position.

Hired three years ago by then-Mayor Bill Finch, Nardozzi’s initial mission was to rein in police overtime. He did a good job at first, but has been hampered by a drastic loss in manpower.

Nardozzi garnered a no-nonsense reputation that earned the ire of some in the department, including the union leadership, which endorsed Ganim’s comeback despite the fact his prior administration ended with a corruption conviction in 2003.

“Those duties currently performed by the assistant chief will revert back to the chief of police,” Ganim’s order said.

But Gaudett is unlikely to view that as a sign of Ganim’s faith in his abilities. The order further consolidates other police powers in Ganim’s office, with police Capt. A.J. Perez, a Ganim ally, in a seeming effort to force Gaudett out.

Gaudett is a holdover from the Finch administration. The chief’s contract was set to expire last month, a few weeks after Ganim was sworn in Dec. 1. While overall crime is down, Ganim leveraged spikes in homicides and nonfatal shootings to help defeat Finch in September’s Democratic primary.

During his last days in office, Finch extended Gaudett’s contract for five more years. Ganim could try to buy him out, but the mayor has been complaining about an inherited $20 million budget deficit.

So instead, Ganim has been sidelining Gaudett. The mayor brought in his former police chief, Wilbur Chapman, as a paid public safety adviser.

And Ganim has given more responsibilities to Perez, a longtime friend who is in charge of the detective bureau.

Ganim recently named Perez head of a crime reduction task force.

Friday’s memo states, “The commanding officer of the crime reduction task force will have overall authority for strategic appointment and overtime allocation.”

It begs the question, what is left for Gaudett to do?

At the time the memo was going public, Perez and some other law enforcement officials — without Gaudett and Nardozzi — were at Bridgeport’s emergency operations center showing off a newly purchased driving simulator.

Asked if Ganim’s memo essentially put him in the driver’s seat of the police department, Perez said, “He’s (Gaudett) the chief of police. If I was in his shoes, I’d expect to have the respect of the rank and file.”

Police Sgt. Chuck Paris, the union’s president, was also on hand.

Asked if Ganim’s memo made Perez the de facto chief, Paris said, “I think it puts additional responsibilities on his plate he can handle, without a doubt. He’s going to help make some major decisions in the department, which we endorse.”

Neither Gaudett nor Nardozzi could immediately be reached for comment. Sources have said Gaudett has hired an attorney to protect his interests as the situation continues to evolve.

Friday’s changes further show the influence the police union has on this new administration, given its strong support of Ganim during the campaign.

The decision to ax Nardozzi was made just days after Chapman expressed confidence in the assistant chief and said he had been returned to the overtime beat to help the administration reduce the $20 million deficit.

“He’s a very intelligent guy,” Chapman said of Nardozzi. “He’s energetic, focused and a tremendous asset for accomplishing what city government wants.”

But Paris said Nardozzi, “came from a different department than Bridgeport.”

The bulk of Nardozzi’s career, thus far, was spent in Waterbury.

“He came in under the Finch administration with some strong messages, not taken very well,” Paris said.