Hoboken Police Union appeals 9 Hoboken police demotions to the state

Hoboken Police Union appeals 9 Hoboken police demotions to the state

Tuesday, December 08, 2010  Katie Colaneri -The Jersey Journal

Ken Ferrante left work at the Hoboken Police Department on Friday a lieutenant and returned today a sergeant.

"It feels awkward," said Ferrante who was formerly a commander of three community policing bureaus and is now a first line supervisor over one four-member unit.

Ferrante is one of nine senior officers who have been demoted effective today as part of Mayor Dawn Zimmer's police redeployment plan that she has said will save taxpayers on the city's high personnel costs.

The city recently reported over $2 million in savings through the plan.

In response, the PSOA - the senior police officers' union - is appealing the decision.

PSOA President Ed Drishti said today that he has submitted the names of the nine officers to the state Department of Personnel, although he is not confident that the decision will be overturned.

"They usually go with the city on these matters," Drishti said. "This is political retribution against us," he added. "I've said it once and I'll say it again. It just has a stinking odor of politics."

In July, Zimmer announced a plan to lay off some 13 officers and 18 City Hall employees and to demote 19 officers at the recommendation of an audit conducted by the Division of Local Government Services.

The PSOA and PBA unions led a large-scale protest of the plan including t-shirts, TV spots, and rallies and recently accused the mayor of being politically biased in her decision to retain the demotions. Ferrante and other officers campaigned for Fourth Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti who unseated Zimmer candidate Mike Lenz on Nov. 2.

The redeployment plan, announced in late September, avoided the police layoffs through the creation of a special Hoboken Housing Authority bureau and the commitment of several officers to retire by Dec. 2. Zimmer formed the plan in conjunction with Police Chief Anthony Falco Sr. which they said has increased the number of police officers on the streets.

The city announced late Wednesday night that they would be following through on the demotions of 12 officers, but an "unexpected retirement" has since brought the numbers down to three lieutenants and six sergeants.

Hudson County Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano, who was in danger of being demoted to a lieutenant, will retain his position as captain.

"Considering the difficult police layoffs taking place in surrounding communities and in cities all across the state, Mayor Zimmer is extremely pleased that as a result of retirements, Hoboken was able to achieve needed cost savings without a single one of our young officers losing their jobs," said city spokesman Juan Melli in a statement.

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