Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ex-Sheriff Speziale Named Acting Police Director

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ex-Sheriff Speziale Named Acting Police Director

Article excerpt

PATERSON - Jerry Speziale, the colorful and controversial former Passaic County sheriff, is returning to New Jersey to become the city's acting police director, city officials announced on Tuesday.

Speziale's appointment looms as the most dramatic move by Joey Torres on his inauguration Tuesday. Paterson's new mayor, who had served two terms ending in 2010, pledged to do everything possible to fight the city's chronic crime problem.

"He's a cop's cop and has been one of the leading law enforcement officers in Passaic County," Torres said of Speziale. "I have the utmost confidence in his abilities. I think he's up to the challenge."

Speziale, who liked to hobnob with celebrities -- from dancing with Paris Hilton at a Clifton nightclub to acting alongside Richard Gere and Don Cheadle in a big-budget cop movie -- abruptly left office in 2010, citing family reasons, just months before his anticipated reelection to a third term. He stepped down to take a $198,000 job with the Port Authority.

Before he served as sheriff, he worked with the New York Police Department, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bergen County Sheriff's Department.

In October, Speziale left the Port Authority to become police chief of Pritchard, Ala., a crime-plagued small town outside Mobile, for about a third of his pay at the Port Authority.

In an interview at City Hall shortly after his appointment became official, Speziale said that during his nine months in the Alabama town, crime decreased dramatically.

"That's the model for what we're going to do here," the former sheriff said. "What we need is technology and mobile precincts and more community policing. I'm going to follow the mantra of our mayor, Joey Torres."

Speziale will serve part time in his new job. "They're going to pay me for 20 hours and I'm going to work 70," he said. "This isn't about money. …

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