Acting mayor Jane Williams-Warren appointed Troy Oswald as the city’s police chief on Thursday. Oswald, well-known for his role as a tough narcotics captain, was picked over deputy chiefs Heriberto “Eddie” Rodriguez and Ibrahim “Mike” Baycora.
“This decision was a difficult one, but I am confident that with your leadership the Police Department will continue to grow and perform to its highest standard,” stated Williams-Warren in a letter making the appointment.
Oswald has been working in the police force since 1992. He fills a role that was previously held by retired police chief William Fraher, who collected a $210,000 salary.
“I’m happy that they have confidence in me to move the city forward,” said Oswald on Friday morning.
The three men were competing for the top job over the past year. Williams-Warren had appointed Oswald as acting chief in December. She made the permanent appointment on Thursday without conducting a new civil service test for the job. She had the option to do so under state law.
Former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres favored appointing Rodriguez for the job. However, key council members last year, behind the scenes, expressed their support for Oswald, who is viewed as more affable and responsive.
“We’re all going to work together to move the city to the 21st century,” said Oswald vowing to work with Rodriguez and Baycora.
“I think it’s a good selection,” said councilman Luis Velez, vice-chairman of the public safety committee. “He’s a zero-tolerance guy. He’s going to be on point and efficient.”
Velez wants police to do more to improve quality of life in the city.
As chief, Oswald plans to expand walking patrol in the city. There had been some walking patrol on Broadway during the summer, but it was never consistent. He wants expanded walking posts of officers like that used in lower Manhattan and Camden.
“It’s a long-term strategy for me. Not just a summer flash in the pan. This is going to be something we have for a while,” said Oswald. Foot patrols have proven successful in reducing crime and building bonds between police officers and neighborhood residents in Philadelphia.
Oswald also wants to “empower supervisors” by allowing them to pick members of their units. He also has plans to conduct four-month evaluations to ensure accountability, he said.
Oswald is taking charge of a department that has almost 420 police officers. Police have cost the city millions of dollars over the past years in lawsuits and legal expenses. Some of the lawsuits were the result of poor management, according to council members, who have criticized the large settlements that hobble hiring of new officers and force tax increases.
“I think he’s going to put the house in order,” said Velez.
Oswald plans to minimize the number of lawsuits originating from the police department. He was the captain of Internal Affairs (IA) and had to address some of the lawsuits in the past, he said. He plans to ensure transparent management and having officers better trained on department policies.
“There are sound policies to prevent lawsuits. These are stuff I’m doing,” said Oswald. In January, he promulgated a new sexual harassment policy, he said. He plans to take steps to address any claims of discriminations before a lawsuit.
Municipal officials said Oswald’s appointment still has to be approved by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission. His contract also has to be approved by the city council.
Oswald, 49, of Morris County, has a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Rutgers University and a master’s in education, human development, and supervision from Seton Hall University.
He will be sworn in as the new police chief at a later time, said officials.