Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Not Enough Officers, Chief Warns

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Not Enough Officers, Chief Warns

Article excerpt

WANAQUE -- The police chief is asking the governing body for more officers because of short staffing and expected retirements.

John Reno has written to Mayor Daniel Mahler, describing "critical staffing levels" in the department that have created a "dangerous continuing situation for the public and the officers."

The letter said that the last time the department hired an officer was March 2006. Since then, two officers have retired and have not been replaced, Reno wrote. Currently, 21 officers serve the borough. Reno wrote that FBI and state police standards for a municipality matching Wanaque's population and call volume suggest 30 officers.

Reno's letter pointed out "it takes well over a year to hire and train a new officer" as impending retirements are prepared for. Three officers are retiring in 2013, he wrote, and three more will be eligible to retire next year. Reno therefore "strenuously requested" one new officer be hired immediately, with two more over the coming year.

The matter was discussed at the Jan. 14 Borough Council meeting. Councilman Dominick Cortellessa said, "There's a significant amount of overtime. ... We need to be intelligent enough to determine what it means overall."

Cortellessa was referring to the monthly report by Councilman Donald Pasquariello, chairman of the Police Committee, that includes shifts worked, overtime hours compiled, calls received and arrests made. In December, Pasquariello said, the force logged 153 hours of overtime, and 55 percent of shifts were "denied a full complement" of officers.

Pasquariello said that, by the standards Reno quoted, the Police Department has been understaffed for several years.

Mahler said, "The FBI and the state police aren't paying for it." But he agreed that Wanaque has been "down two officers since 2006. …

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