Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Speziale Could Also Get Pa. Job

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Speziale Could Also Get Pa. Job

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- The police director, Jerry Speziale, said on Thursday that he has agreed to take on part-time duties as interim police chief in a Pennsylvania city about two hours west of Paterson.

Speziale said he would continue his full-time work overseeing the Paterson Police Department, asserting that the position in Hazleton, Pa., would not interfere with that.

Speziale said Hazleton would pay him on an hourly basis -- at a rate that's still being negotiated -- and that he expected to work between five and 20 hours per week for the Pennsylvania city.

"It could be on weeknights, weekends or my days off," Speziale said about the hours he would work for Hazleton. In some instances, Speziale said, he may perform his duties for Hazleton over the phone or through emails.

"It's all up in the air right now," he said.

Mayor Joey Torres said he was confident that Paterson would not get shortchanged by Speziale's part-time arrangement.

"I don't think that will happen," the mayor said, adding that he expected Speziale to continue his "150 percent" effort in the Silk City.

But one city councilman sounded a note of skepticism.

"I don't know how it's going to work," said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, chairman of the Public Safety Committee and council representative of the city's 2nd Ward. "We need him full-time here. We have lots of things to do."

Speziale, a retired New York City police officer, served nine years as the Passaic County sheriff before moving on to a high- ranking law enforcement position at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and then becoming police chief at a small city in Alabama.

He has been overseeing the Paterson Police Department since July 2014, winning praise from community leaders and elected officials as the city's crime statistics dropped during that time.

Hazleton's mayor-elect, Jeff Cusat, could not be reached for comment for this report. Speziale said his appointment in Hazleton needs to be confirmed by that city's municipal council on Jan. 4.

Speziale said that his hourly pay rate in Hazleton has not yet been set. "We haven't even discussed that," he said.

In recent weeks, Speziale said, he had hoped to become a paid consultant for Hazleton -- an arrangement that was opposed by Hazleton's City Council president, John Mundie, who said there was no room in the city's tight budget to fund consultants.

Mundie, who ran against Cusat in November's mayoral election, said last week that Speziale called him at his office this year to offer help with his political campaign and to say he was "interested in coming back to Hazleton. …

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