Got cops? With seven new cadets, police union complains department is still 20 short

Got cops?  With seven new cadets, police union complains department is still 20 short
Hoboken Reporter

HOBOKEN:  Following the retirement of 20 veteran police officers in as many months, Hoboken swore in seven police cadets on Thursday July 27, in an attempt to increase the police presence on the streets.

However, the head of Hoboken's patrolmen's union says the city is still short on police officers.

The city's Table of Organization, a list of how many officers should be in each position, presently calls for 120 officers. Recent retirements reduced the number below 100.

The seven new cadets presently training at the police academy in Mahwah, N.J. bring the number up to 100. An eighth was hired and sworn in, but dropped out.

The seven new officers will not be available for duty until January.

Still not enough cops

With the new recruits, the department will have 100 officers (that number does not include supervisors). The 20-officer deficit infuriates Hoboken PBA Local No. 2 President Detective Vince Lombardi, who warns of a strain on the department.

"The mayor's idea of a crisis management plan is to wait for a crisis to happen and then scramble to figure out how to manage it," said Lombardi.

He charged that the city ignored several letters he sent in regards to the lack of police, and only acknowledged the issue after the terrorist threat on the PATH stations in July.

However, Hoboken Police Chief Dr. Carmen LaBruno was more understanding of the city's position, thanking the mayor for his continued support of the Police Department.

"I understand elected officials have to balance the ability to staff vacancies with the reality of budgetary constraints," LaBruno said.

The chief went on to point out that in the last year, violent crime was down 29 percent, while nonviolent crime is down 12 percent.

But Lombardi doesn't feel a decrease in crime should warrant a decrease in the amount of police.

"Cutting the number of police officers is like disregarding smoke detectors because you didn't have a fire," Lombardi said. "The city's response is that crime is down so we don't need as many officers."

Lombardi pointed out that the current 120 person table of organization is a result of the mayor and City Council reducing the number from 127 earlier in the year.

The politicians weigh in

"The goal for everyone involved is to keep the streets safe," said Councilman At-Large Ruben Ramos Jr. "At no time are the citizens of Hoboken in danger with the Police Department as it is today."

Ramos stressed the importance of having a community presence. 
"What we want is more police walking the streets," he said, "and that's what we're getting with the new patrolmen."

Councilman At-Large Peter Cammarano echoed Ramos' sentiments, pointing out that the city hired six patrolmen last year and is committed to starting a community-based initiative.

Cammarano added that in the city's 2007 budget of $71 million, a little more than $26 million was allocated to public safety, with approximately $14 million going to the police Department, and $12 million to the Fire Department, which hired 12 new firefighters on June 9 (see sidebar).

According to LaBruno, the Police Department is currently conducting background checks on potential future police officers in anticipation of six more retirements in the next year.

In light of the six retiring officers and the current status of the TO, Cammarano said he would be supportive of hiring more police for the next budget.

"I think it's a good thing to fill the table of organization, but at the same time we have to maintain the budget," he said. "If the need is there and the money is there it always makes sense to have more police on the streets."


New police officers and firefighters

Hoboken's seven police cadets have a lot of experience already, but also a lot of work ahead of them.

The cadets are currently enrolled in a 22-week course at the Bergen County Police Academy in Mahwah, N.J. The 39-member class runs two miles every morning and is taught by two Bergen County Police Officers.

While in the academy, the cadets will learn everything from criminal law to community policing to patrol tactics to firearms to first responder medical treatment.

The cadets are Daniel Simone, Anthony Caruso, Dylan Archilla, Edwin Gonazalez, Ramon Calderon, Charles Kucz, and Christine Volaric.

Some of the cadets have a history with the Hoboken Police Department, such as Charles Kucz, who before taking the oath, worked at the police stable for three years with the city's mounted unit.

Another is Edwin Gonzalez, who after working as a 'class two' officer (20 hours a week) with the Hoboken Police Department, left for four years to work for the Hudson County Sheriff's Department.

One of the cadets in the academy is Dylan Archilla, who comes from a family of public servants, his mother being a retired nurse and step-father a retired Englewood Police Officer.

Archilla is a former employee of the Hudson Reporter newspaper group who at the age of 35 has decided to pursue the career of his dreams.

"It's something that I always wanted to do," Archilla said. "And now at 35, I'm doing it."

Following the academy, the cadets will return to Hoboken, where they will serve as probational police officers for one year, learning departmental procedures and service training. They will work every shift in order to get a sense of what the different areas of Hoboken are like at various times of the day and night.

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