Keeping his campaign promise to rebuild the ranks of the city’s police force, mayor Jose “Joey” Torres on Tuesday morning swore in 30 new police officers.
Residents have been clamoring for more police officers to improve public safety in the Silk City. “Paterson I hear you and today I answer your call,” said Torres. He promised to hire 25 police officer every year while campaigning for a third non-consecutive term as mayor.
The new officers will spend six months in police academy and be prepared for deployment in early summer, said police director Jerry Speziale. He said the 30 new officers will be deployed in June.
“As police director, there’s nothing more satisfying than the opportunity to welcome a new group of outstanding young men and women to the ranks of our profession,” said Speziale speaking to the diverse group of recruits inside the city council chamber. “Swearing in new police officers is like watching lightning in a thunderstorm its very presence infuses the department with renewed strength and vitality.”
The mayor would not have succeeded in keeping his campaign promise without assistance from Rep. Bill Pascrell. 15 of the 30 new officers are being hired through grant funding secured by the Pascrell, a former Paterson mayor. He told the recruits to read and abide by the ethics of proper conduct.
“If one word or one comma you don’t understand, ask. You’re not just a police officer, you’re a Paterson police officer. On your shoulders rest the destiny of the city I lived in all my life,” said Pascrell.
Alex Cruz, president of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), reiterated the congressman’s message and told the group to serve with integrity. “With integrity, you can never be a bad police officer, without it, you can never be a good one,” he said.
The base salary for an entry level police officer is approximately $33,000, said officials.
“You are serving the community and you are part of this community,” said deputy police chief Troy Oswald, who is part of a triarchy running the police department, harkening back to Robert Peel, the father of modern policing. “It’s important that you follow through with what the community needs and help the community get to a better place. Be the best police officers you can so that you can impact the community.”
The mayor celebrated this year’s across the board drop in crime. Police statistics show the city’s crime numbers are at a 27-year low. The mayor credited Speziale’s leadership at the department for the drop.
“Crime statistics can come down, but if people don’t feel safe it amounts to a hill of beans. People have to feel safe in their homes. People have to feel safe when going to the store to buy a gallon of milk. We’re trying to increase the number of police officers so that people feel safe,” said Pascrell. “The only way we can come back is to keep our streets safe.”
Speziale said 14 of the new officers will be filling vacancies at the department. He said the total number of officers in the department will be closer to 400 after the new recruits take to the streets.