BREAKING: City announces new HHA agreement saving 5 police positions

Office of the Mayor announces:


The Hoboken Housing Authority voted unanimously tonight to agree to a shared services agreement with the City of Hoboken to establish a Hoboken Housing Authority Bureau that will work in close coordination and partnership with resident patrols, community groups, development managers, and the HHA Executive Director to effectively reduce crime and aggressively target violations and other conditions that detract from the quality of life for residents in the Hoboken Housing Developments and the surrounding area.

“Over the last few weeks, a lot of work went into making this happen,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “I’m especially thankful to 4th Ward Councilman Michael Lenz for strongly advocating for the establishment of this Housing Authority Bureau which will improve safety for Housing Authority residents, save taxpayers money, and save five police jobs.”

One Police Sergeant and four Patrolmen will be assigned to patrol the Housing Authority area during peak activity hours between 8pm and 4am. Previously, through the volunteer OEP program, off-duty police were paid overtime to patrol the area. This agreement will replace the existing $540,000 OEP program and will not cost the taxpayers of Hoboken anything. By establishing a consistent presence of assigned personnel, the program will improve safety by allowing officers to build ties with the community.

This is exactly the kind of cooperative approach I have been advocating for, and I commend Mayor Zimmer, Director Garcia and their teams for getting it done,” said 4th Ward Councilman Michael Lenz. “It just didn’t make sense to lay off some police while paying overtime to others, and this agreement addresses real human concerns while saving money and ensuring public safety.”

The agreement also calls for the creation of a Public Safety Resident Council made up of a cross-section of Housing Authority residents who will meet regularly with the Authority’s Executive Director and provide community feedback on police and security issues. In addition, the City will also install a direct telephone line in the office at 4th and Harrison Street for use by Authority residents.

“By empowering residents and giving them a role in improving the quality of life in their community, this agreement will make our City safer while cutting costs,” said Councilman Ravi Bhalla, Chairman of the Public Safety Committee.

The plan includes accountability measures, performance indicators, requires that patrol squads be no larger than 2 officers, and, among other responsibilities, calls for walking patrols, vertical building sweeps, and monitoring of the Housing Authority’s surveillance cameras.

“This was truly a team effort,” added Mayor Zimmer. “I want to thank Public Safety Director Alicea for developing the plan, Police Chief Falco for his active support of this initiative, and Corporation Counsel Tabakin and Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia for working closely to iron out the details.”

The agreement is subject to approval by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the City Council. Mayor Zimmer has agreed to delay the layoff of five patrolmen pending the approval of this agreement by the City Council on October 6, 2010 and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Talking Ed Note: Mayor Zimmer sent out a twitter Wednesday evening saying, “Thank you HHA for helping save 5 Police jobs and taxpayer money with the approval of the city’s proposed interlocal agreement.

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