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Next steps: union negotiations and a “revitalized police force”

In what may prove to be a defining moment for the Mayor Zimmer administration, a new Hoboken police department is anticipated to emerge from the numerous changes scheduled for implementation by early December.

With 13 anticipated retirements by year’s end, the Hoboken Police Department will be reshaped with negotiations to restart with the City and two police unions in about a week.  Of the thirteen retirements, several are at the rank of lieutenant, one or two are Sergeant  and about eight patrolmen are confirmed.

Changes in redeployment should mean an increase in street patrols of 38 percent with 99 patrolling officers becoming the new standard.  The previous number was 72.  An evening “power shift” instituted by Chief Falco will increase night coverage from 8:00 pm to 4:00 am.

Police Chief Falco speaking earlier.  He described claims by ‘critics,” re: Hoboken411, the city would see lower police coverage due to the HHA Bureau as false.  Citywide coverage will increase with 99 officers on patrol.

More retirements could in fact come to the fore adding greater flexibility to a younger and vital department.  At the State level, Gov. Christie is moving on reforms, on the pension side a potential rollback of increases back to 2001 is on the legislative table.

Mayor Zimmer expressed positive expectations and the negotiations soon to begin.  “Both sides are very much committed to sitting down and working through the issues and coming to resolution on the contracts.  As far as what happens on December 2nd, officers are expected to follow through retirements on December 1st.. . If they choose not to, there would be some layoffs.”

Both unions also expressed optimism on the negotiations.  Vince Lombardi, PBA President felt positive with no layoffs looking ahead saying, “I’m pleased (with the announcement of no layoffs.)  “It was a culmination of everyone taking a pause and stepping back and looking at the big picture.”

Describing his appreciation for the members retiring Lombardi said, “It’s a personal decision (deciding to retire).  I’m thankful that people choose to retire and hopefully more people will retire too…. You’re getting a revitalized police department which is good for everybody.”

Mayor Zimmer and PBA President Lombardi spoke after the event
and were then joined in their impromptu chat by Police Chief Falco (left).

Additional feedback from various people both inside and outside the administration was throughly upbeat.  Perry Belfiore, an opponent critical of the Zimmer administration and who recently made a classy apology for harsh comments in a recent City Council meeting was ultimately pleased with the outcome.  “The mechanics were always there to put the plan together.  People dug their heels in… and it didn’t have to be done with acrimony.  The mechanics were always there.  But you know what I’m going to sleep well tonight, because it’s a good day for Hoboken.”

David Liebler, a Hoboken resident was appreciative of the news asking for a rundown of changes at City Hall.  “Increased patrolmen on the streets?  That’s great.  The mayor has done a great job,” he said smiling broadly.  He later commented on Hoboken Patch further detailing the win, “Hoboken now has a 38% police increase on our streets!  This is amazing! Very thankful.”

Public Safety Director Angel Alicea described the overall efforts announced today as intense saying he had slept only six hours in a week working through everything including the plan to meet HUD’s stringent federal requirements.  “We want to ensure there’s no problems, that everything goes smoothly,” he said on the implementation plans for the HHA Bureau.  He was appreciative of the mayor’s efforts adding, “Her leadership has been outstanding.”

Vision Media Marketing Inc. announced suspension of its media campaign in an email statement earlier this afternoon.  The campaign “Keep Hoboken Safe” ceases at the direction of their client, the Hoboken PBA.

Hoboken411 is left alone pushing a negative line in what was a universally well received announcement today.  They’re calling the negotiations planned with announced retirements expected December 1st as “kicking the can…after election time.

Other police layoffs and demotions of superior officers will be postponed until December 2nd (i.e., “kicking the can down the road” – after election time).
As expected, the city press release only reports the news in a way that reflects positive actions by the administration. Several officers indicated that the math doesn’t add up – and that the “additional officers assigned to patrol the streets” will result in cuts in other crucial areas of the department.

Talking Ed Note: There was genuine satisfaction all around in today’s announcement.  The change was frankly as equally surprising as the tremendous savings and improvement in street patrols – something no one predicted.

Hoboken411 is promising “more to come.”  So is MSV.  If word comes back of the Hoboken hating Hobo411 minions, we have some more surprises.  Bet on it.

Related: Hoboken Patch is first up with a complete story.

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