Hoboken Housing Authority Men in Blue

The Hoboken Housing Authority has always enjoyed a good working relationship with the Hoboken Police Department, whose officers keep residents safe through community policing and by staffing a mini-precinct on Jackson Street. Now the housing authority has taken one more step toward bettering police-resident relations by establishing the Men in Blue program.

Pioneers of the program, Hoboken launched it in 2007, allowing law enforcement officers employed by any local, county or state agency, to live at the Hoboken Housing Authority. By living among the public housing residents, the officers, who must have arrest powers, serve as additional security.

“These officers have been effective in not only intervening but also deterring future problems from occurring,” said Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Carmelo Garcia, describing the Men in Blue program one of the most effective of its kind.

Hoboken Police Officer Kevin Cooney, a resident at Monroe Gardens on Jackson Street, has spent many nights speaking with his neighbors about safety, cleaning up his building, and, on occasion, making arrests.

“Living in the housing authority improves the relationship between the housing residents and the police department,” said Cooney. “It helps to show residents they are getting the same treatment and protection as everyone else in the city.”

In addition to Cooney, four other Hoboken police officers currently live in public housing – Angel Velez, Wilfredo Gomez, Jimmy Miller and James Perez.

Joe Caparino, of the Sheriff’s Department, resides at Fox Hill Gardens. The newest officer, a State Corrections officer, will lives at Harrison Gardens. Of the seven officers, three are assigned to the senior/disabled buildings, “our most vulnerable residents,” said Garcia.

Velez believes that by simply getting to know his neighbors, he is able to deter criminal activity. “If there are any problems, they know they can come to you.”

Hoboken’s Men in Blue program is an adaptation of the federal Housing and Urban Development Agency’s Good Neighbor Next Door Program, which encourages public servants to purchase single-family homes in neighborhoods undergoing revitalization.