Responding to Mr. Lombardi's letter regarding our police department

Responding to Mr. Lombardi's letter regarding our police department

11/25/2006 HR

Dear Editor:

We write in response to Vince Lombardi's over-wrought letter, entitled 'Blood will continue to flow in the streets', published on this page on November 19, 2006. In his letter, Mr. Lombardi eagerly points his finger at the Administration and City Council, displays utter disregard for truth and reason, and callously exploits the victims 'and tragedy of crime.

Mr. Lombardi condemns the Mayor and Council for a perceived under-funding of the Hoboken Police Department. However, the numbers betray Mr. Lombardi's inaccuracy: In 2001, when this Administration took office, the Police Department budget was $10.7 million. Today, the Police Department budget is approximately $15 million.

That increase of nearly 50 percent represents the largest budget growth of any department in the municipal government in that period of time and the largest expansion to our Police Department in the City's history. Since 2001, the Police Department has added or supplemented the com-
munity policing program, the, mounted patrol, the SWAT team tactical unit, as well as countless new squad cars, motorcycles, computers and other hardware. Mr. Lombardi does not discuss any of this, choosing instead to sound the false alarm of a department in dire straits. Public safety is a major priority and the Administration is committed to maintaining and bolstering our force to the levels of the Table of Organization.

Today, the Police Department employs 153 full-time police officers, which is actually seven fewer than in 2001. In 2005, the last year for which complete data is available, there were, in most cases, double-digit percentage increases in violent crimes in Hudson County, in New Jersey, and in the United States. In that same year, Hoboken experienced a double-digit percentage decrease in violent crime (defying the county, State and national trend). Violent crime is at its lowest level in Hoboken since, that statistic has started being recorded. In short, Under the experienced and skill-ful direction of Chief LaBruno, Hoboken is as safe a place to live and work as it has ever been, in both relative and absolute terms. This is an unprecedented achievement. Mr. Lombardi does not discuss any of this, choosing instead to emphasize what he deems wrong on our streets.

A tragic, unforeseeable and ultimately fatal shooting occurred at Fourth And Jackson Streets in Hoboken on November 10, 2006. Mr. Lombardi's letter goes to great lengths to assign blame for that crime, and to use the occasion to make demands on the Administration and Council. He fails to mention that within one week of the incident, the perpetrator had been identified and taken into custody, all due to the good work of the Hoboken Police
Department and Hudson County Prosecutor's Office.

We remain unbowed in our determination to fight crime in our streets, and we are resolved to provide the necessary tools to our Police Department to accomplish that task. 

Mayor David Roberts
Councilman Peter Cammarano, Chair,
Public Safety Committee

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