Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

River Edge Council Rejects Proposal to Revamp Police Officer Ranks

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

River Edge Council Rejects Proposal to Revamp Police Officer Ranks

Article excerpt

RIVER EDGE -- The Borough Council has sided with the union representing the police by voting against a plan to change the Police Department's organizational structure -- at least for now.

The proposal by Chief Tom Cariddi would have removed the position of captain from the department's table of organization and added an administrative sergeant and a lieutenant.

On Tuesday, the council deadlocked 2-2 in a vote to adopt the ordinance, which had been introduced in a 5-0 vote in January. It is expected, however, that the council will reconsider the issue at a future work session.

"I do not believe at this time that we need a captain's position, but I think it would be a mistake to remove the captain's position," said Council President Thomas Papaleo, who voted against the measure with Councilman Dario Chinigo. "There may come a time -- one, two, 10 years from now -- where a captain's position may well be needed."

The captain's rank has been unfilled for 21 years, though a civilian employee carried out the position's administrative duties for the first 13 years of the vacancy.

The governing body's decision drew praise from the River Edge Policemen's Benevolent Association, which has opposed the proposal.

"The PBA is satisfied with the outcome that the ordinance didn't pass as drafted," union President Joe Zemaites said after the meeting. "We'd like to see a dialogue continue to occur to have that captain position filled."

In opposing the change, the union cited a lack of a clear second- in-command and an established chain of command in the department without a captain.

The chief, however, said the chain of command is unambiguous. He said the next ranking officer is placed in charge when the chief or higher-ranked officers are not available. He also argued that certain administrative tasks, which currently fall to lieutenants and sergeants, could be centralized under an administrative sergeant, eliminating the need for a higher-ranking officer. …

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