Police Unions: The Great Citizens, Taxpayers, Business Owners and Visitors of Hoboken

Vince Lombardi, PBA President & Edmond Drishti, PSOA President
Crime in Hoboken – Police Union Call for Action announce:

Sgt. Ed Drishti and Detective Vince Lombardi (r)

Our City is flanked by urban centers with volatile crime concerns of their own. Due to our
unique geographic location, Hoboken tends to act as a quasi-catch basin for crime and predators.
When a society experiences sustained economic recession, a lack of proactive police presence,
violent and nonviolent crime will almost always increase and spread like a cancer. It is an
indisputable fact that lawlessness, anti-social behavior and criminality has increased in our
community. Anyone who has monitored local and regional media or personally observed, been
victimized or shared stories of the aforementioned would have to agree. We have on many occasions
stressed the need for increased police personnel to this administration. However, our pleas fall on
deaf or dismissive ears.

In 2010, we strongly advocated and rallied concerned citizens against a proposed plan to lay off 18
police officers and demote
of 19 supervisors. Had this City Administration’s plan of action come to
pass, and 18 officers fired, it would have more severely impacted our ability to provide adequate
protection to our community. Our police department has since lost, through retirements, a number
of police officers nearly equal to those which were targeted for termination, without being
replenished, in addition to the retirements of senior pay grade captains, lieutenants and sergeants.
Although all the junior pay grade supervisors who were unfairly demoted have since been re-
promoted, there are still vacancies in the supervisory ranks. The vacancies created have NOT been
filled and there appears no relief in sight. The members of the police department have been
demoralized, and disenfranchised by the city’s actions and present inaction.

To make matters worse, crime has increased, contrary to Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s recent ‘State of the
City’ address, in which
she craftily reports crime is down by 16%! Actually, the percentage fact
reported was a ruse cherry-picked
from a more inclusive ‘City of Hoboken [2010 & 2011] Crime
Comparison’ report. 

In this same report, which the Mayor used to state the “16%” reduction in crime, it clearly shows
that crime has increased. The Mayor falls short of mentioning
in her ‘State of the City Address’ that
the 16% figure is actually the
‘Crime Rate [per 1000]’ census population percentile calculation and
not the complete assessment of crime in our city.

On the actual comprehensive ‘City of Hoboken Crime Comparison’ document [which is public
information] the Mayor chose not to mention that
‘Violent Crime Rate’ has increased by 20%, and
theoverall‘CrimeIndex’alsoincreasedby4.1%. Asamatteroffact,tobeclear:Rapeincreased
by 25%, Robbery increased by 88%, Aggravated Assault increased by 36%, Burglary
increased by 3.6%
and Motor Vehicle Theft increased by 21%. VIOLENT CRIME in our City has
increased by 50%
and the VIOLENT CRIME RATE [per 1000] also increased by 20%. If this
administration elects to use crime stats, then we strongly suggest that the Mayor or her Public
Safety Director reveal all the facts to the public.

Your safety is of chief concern to us as well as your right to know the complete truth in our crime
statistics. In March of 2011, the police unions reached common ground with the City and settled our
labor contracts which collectively included substantial immediate and significant future cost savings
to taxpayers of Hoboken. Since 2008, 33 senior top-pay police officers and supervisors have retired
yielding approximately $3.8 million in raw salary savings alone.

The city is also being funded directly from the federal government approximately $540,000 annually
to pay the salaries of police officers assigned exclusively to patrol the Hoboken Housing Authority
(HHA) properties. Presently, the city has 8 officers and 3 supervisors to this task. However, because
of serious staffing level shortages on other shifts responsible for city-wide policing, the city may
very well have to remove some or all of these officers from HHA patrol.

The mayor consistently states, “…public safety is my top priority.” However, the city has not hired
full-time replacement police officers and even cut police services. 

The Mayor and Public Safety
Director seem to be only concerned about saving money, and refuse to hire replacement officers or
fill supervisor staffing vacancies. As a consequence to these cuts and staffing deficiencies, we no
longer have a
‘Community Policing Bureau’ a specialized unit to educate citizens in crime
prevention, exclusively address and correct quality of life concerns and help organize ‘Block Watch
Programs, while providing much needed walking and bicycle patrols. 

We have no officers in our
schools protecting your children and providing D.A.R.E (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) or
G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education And Training) at a time when juvenile delinquency in our
schools has increased. We only have a one-man
‘Alcohol, Beverage Control & Enforcement Bureau’
to police over 120 liquor licensed establishments, and a depleted and overburdened Traffic
Enforcement Bureau. The last time the city hired new officers was in February of 2008 and we are in
dire and desperate need of new officers.

Presently, there are hundreds of fully trained police officers who have been laid-off throughout the
state that could quickly be hired to fill our vacancies and a standing civil service list of new
prospective applicants in wait.  
However, time is passing us by and our community is in jeopardy of continued increases in crime
and diminished quality of life each day this administration drags its feet.

The Hoboken Police Department is at its lowest staffing levels since 1995 and at a time when 50,000
residents pack our mile square city and tens of thousands more visit and commute regularly. At the
behest of the newly appointed public safety director, we have been reduced to a purely reactive
police force for the purpose of protecting and preserving a budget bottom line. We strongly
challenge this purely political philosophy because the public safety must be the priority. It is our
opinion that Public Safety Director Jon L. Tooke has changed the departments present staffing to
potentially dangerous levels especially on the day and midnight shifts.

In our opinion, Director Tooke’s ‘police management text-book style’ staffing and Department re-
organization policy approach fails to work but has also resulted in delays in response time,
unbalanced and inadequate shift staffing, officer fatigue and frustration with vacation time being
denied and heavy service call and case management
due to ‘man-power’ shortages because overtime
has been highly discouraged or totally disallowed.

Presently, we are staffed with ONLY 89 police officers [to police an entire City 24-7, 365 days a
year], 26 sergeants, 12 lieutenants, 2 captains and 1 chief. Even more alarming is the reality, of
which the city has been made well aware, is that 27 veteran officers will be eligible to retire in 2013.
And, if all retire [as expected and anticipated] without pre-replacement officers, our department will
be reduced by 21% of its current operating strength! In 2011, the police department responded to
58,335 service calls which included 1,224 adult arrests and 60 juvenile custodial arrests.

Again, the City seems to be focused on only providing police on the cheap! Their plan is to hire
seasonal part-time Special Police Officers like Jersey shore communities. Part-time/seasonal
officers are not the answer and definitely NOT the solution to our public safety problems or staffing
needs; that is pure political window dressing.

We implore Mayor Zimmer to act swiftly and authorize the hiring of a minimum of 15 full time
police officers to plug the gap in our city’s primary line of defense and public safety preparedness
with a focus on restoring those specialized units that were eliminated. The projected cost, including
initial salary and benefits for these officers would be approximately $800,000 in the first year with
the taxpayers still realizing a $3 million net savings from attrition. The incremental annual cost
increases of these officers as they move up the salary guide would always be balanced via
retirement of higher salaried employees in the ordinary course.

We call upon the City to act quickly and decisively to address these vital staffing needs. What
little ground we hold in our war on crime and anti-social anarchy hangs in the balance. Give us the
help we need to improve services, re-establish our omnipresence, take back ground lost and push
the “barbarians back beyond the gates!” It’s that elementary.

Hoboken PBA & PSOA Crime Data

To the citizens of Hoboken, we urge that you contact Mayor Dawn Zimmer, your elected City Council
representatives and Public Safety Director Jon L. Tooke and voice your concern and demand action
and the whole truth.

Respectfully yours,
Vincent T. Lombardi, President

Hoboken Policemen’s Benevolent Association

Edmond Drishti, President

Hoboken Police Superior Officer’s Association 

Talking Ed Note: The City’s response follows below

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