Zimmer wants cheap rent-a-cops
Castellano calls Special Police ordinance crime fighting “on the cheap”
Councilwoman Theresa Castellano called the Zimmer administration’s proposed “Special Police officers” ordinance an insult to the city’s residents and to all police officers in the city.
The ordinance, which is on the city council agenda tonight, calls for the establishment of Class I and II special police officers, who would patrol the streets and have police powers while on duty.
“This is an example of City Hall trying to fight crime on the cheap,” said Castellano, noting that the city reduced the size of the police department late last year, including demotions and retirements. “Over the past several months, residents of the 1st ward have seen a marked increase in crime, including stabbings, armed robberies, home invasions and other violent crime. For this administration to propose a special police program as an alternative to full-fledged police officers is not only inadequate, it’s simply callous.”
Castellano said that the proposed ordinance is most likely in violation of the current collective bargaining agreement, which allows for the deployment of special police officers only as a compliment to a fully staffed department. “The city is basing its police staffing levels on information from 2000, which says the city’s population is 30,000, as opposed to the current 50,000. It also doesn’t account for the increase of thousands more on weekends,” she said. “It seems as if City Hall has learned nothing from the events before and after the March St. Patrick’s Parade when there were more than 20 reported assaults and two sexual assaults in one day.”
Castellano says she supports the idea of special police officers and sees the value of such a program, which puts potential future Hoboken Police officers on the streets for real-life training. However, she said that the special officers, who would be paid between $12-$18 an hour, would not be able to adequately address the current crime increase.
“We need experienced, full-time police officers, who are fully trained and experienced in urban police work,” she said. “If the day comes when our police department is fully staffed, then I would welcome the opportunity to create a Special Police program. Now is definitely not that time.”