Valuable cops should be the last thing cut
Hoboken411 has received dozens of emails from residents across the spectrum in the mile square regarding the recent announcement by City Hall to eliminate 18 members from the already short-staffed Hoboken Police Department.
From anger that the administration only looked at one skewed audit from the state, to concerns about the safety of residents. Other residents were puzzled that countless friends and contributors to Zimmer’s campaign get appointments, raises and more. While some folks estimated the “cost savings” for stripping the police department would save property taxpayers a whopping $7 per month on average.
However, the following letter to Mayor Dawn Zimmer stood out – because it’s apparent that the Mayor is treating the men and women that lay their lives on the line as some kind of expendable part of life as we know it in Hoboken.
Think of other ways to cut taxes besides Police
“Dear Mayor Zimmer,
You don’t know me but I am a resident of Hoboken. I wasn’t born here, I wasn’t raised here, but I do have family here. My friends are my family, my husband’s co-workers are a band of brothers, and the streets, buildings, art and culture that make up this town are my life. They are my husband’s life as well.
He struggled and worked many different jobs and we moved many times trying to make our way to live here in Hoboken. Nearly 10 years ago we made that dream come true. Upon moving here, we immediately felt as though we had been in Hoboken our whole lives, it was a perfect fit. I felt I could walk anywhere in town and I know someone just around the corner. We support all the local businesses in town, have become friends over the years with the owners, again it feels like we are family.
My husband and I have been together for over 20 years and married over 13 of those. He’s my best friend and I his. Since I can remember he has always wanted to be a police officer. He’s always wanted to help people, to “protect and serve” as they say. I didn’t want to have him in danger risking his life for strangers, it scared me. However the people of Hoboken are not strangers, they are family.
I recall about a year before my better half decided to try to become a cop the moment when I realized it was his calling and I needed to step aside. We were going grocery shopping at our local A&P and pulling into a parking spot. We both noticed across the street and down a bit a young woman riding a bicycle and a car that had just parallel parked. I remember feeling that shock and just froze as I watched the car door open and the cyclist ride into the door. I covered my eyes and took a breath and looked over to my husband. Before I could utter a gasp, he was half way to her running full speed to the scene. He was the first one there attending to her and assessing the damage, phoning for help, and keeping things under control. And there I sat, stunned that all I had thought to do, time to do, was cover my eyes. His reaction told me that he was meant to help others. To have this fine man sit at a desk or at a cubical would be a crime in itself.
He almost didn’t make the cut off. He was getting too old to take the test and the town kept putting off hiring. I remember the months we waited on pins and needles to see if he made it. He worked so hard to get his one shot to do this and it would have killed me to see it not happen.
I remember sitting outside Ted and Joe’s having breakfast one morning when a pigeon pooped on his head. Being Italian, I consider that to be a sign of good luck and I exclaimed “That’s it, you are going to be hired I can feel it!” I know it sounds silly, and maybe the bird had nothing to do with it, but he did get hired.
At the end of his first day at the academy, he came home with muscles so stressed and sore he could barely get the key in the door. He fell into bed wearing all of his clothes and the look of total shock and exhaustion. He woke at 4 am the next day to do it all again. Boot camp for cops, that’s what it was, and he loved every single minute of it. He loved everyone there, and he especially loved and still loves his Hoboken graduating classmates. They are bonded for life, brothers and sisters, always there to watch out for one another no matter what. Being that he is an only child, you can imagine how special that is for him.
When he graduated it was the proudest moment in our lives. My father, who was sick with cancer, and has since passed away, came to the ceremony. I remember it was a particularly tough night for him as he was feeling especially bad, but he wouldn’t miss it for the world. He knew what my husband put into it, he knew it was all he ever wanted, and he had to be there for him because he was so proud. We all were, and still are, as we are for all of Hoboken’s Finest.
I think people have the wrong impression of cops, and especially Hoboken cops. I think people get mad at them for giving them tickets for driving through a stop sign, or for fighting in public because they are drunk, having open containers of alcohol, and urinating in our beloved streets, but they should be mad at themselves. If a police officer is writing you a ticket or arresting you, chances are you did something to deserve it and you should be upset with yourself. My husband has written such tickets and arrested for such crimes, but he’s also done much more.
My better half, and I do mean better, with the help of his partner, evacuated an entire building that was on fire. They had no masks on and were not wearing protective gear. They were patrolling and saw the smoke and acted on it. Simple as that, they ran into the building and saved people.
He’s held a woman’s head in his hands to keep it immobile after she was hit by a car riding her bike without a helmet. She couldn’t see around the intersection because someone illegally parked their car and blocked the view. She died in his arms. She had a fiancé, a family, a life.
So the when you think about cutting taxes, and you propose to cut back 18 jobs of these fine men, think a little more. There’s no other way to cut taxes, to get the money? There are nights on the weekend when there are only 6 men on duty in all of Hoboken. When there’s a fight at Lana, and someone is burglarizing a home, and an accident near the viaduct do you want to only have 4 or 6 men covering all of this. Does this make you feel safe?
Protect my family, protect my friends, keep Hoboken safe and proud and keep the jobs of these men who do risk their lives, do risk their sanity, do work hard to keep us all safe every day and every night and do not make half the salary others towns make.
This is the story of one fine man, but it’s only one story. Think about the others, the road they took to get the honor to serve us. Think about their families, and the sacrifices made to share our loved one with the public.
Hoboken Police are proud to serve Hoboken and deserve to keep their jobs. All of them.”
411 Note: I’m not in full disagreement that there may be “bloat” in the Hoboken Police organization. Much of which was “built up” over the past few decades and administrations. However, I think it’s an ill-advised move to try and create “sweeping changes” that could be of detriment to residents down the line. A better alternative is to “stop the bleeding,” by instituting new procedures for all new hires going forward. Just like fitness and weight loss – “crash diets” are not recommended, and almost always backfire. Slow and steady, and hope that the previous mistakes are corrected. Don’t expect miracles overnight. Just my $0.02.