Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration secured the City Council’s approval on Tuesday night to solicit proposals to conduct an audit of the Paterson police department.
Sayegh’s audit will look at:
- Police operations, practices, and functions
- Organizational structure and management systems
- Accountability measures and metrics
- Use of force procedures and trainings
- And community relations and transparency.
Sayegh had promised to conduct an audit of the police force in January, soon after the controversial death of Jameek Lowery. He also promised to equip police officers with body cameras – funds have been budgeted to purchase cameras for police officers in the 2020 fiscal year budget.
The audit has to be done within 6-9 months of award of contract, according to public records. It may take weeks or months before the city receives proposals from various consultants; after which, the City Council has to decide whether to award a contract to conduct the audit.
Councilman Luis Velez said if the price is too high the council may decide against awarding the contract.
The mayor’s audit comes at a sensitive time. His administration has picked a fight with police chief Troy Oswald.
Oswald had been in contract negotiations with the city. He attended a meeting with Sayegh’s chief of staff Kathleen Long and business administrator Vaughn McKoy to work out the salary. The chief wanted an increase, but the business administrator told him the city did not have money to give him a raise, according to Oswald’s account of what transpired at the meeting chronicled in his lawsuit.
Ironically, the mayor had money to give Long an 11-percent retroactive pay increase and contemplated a much bigger increase for McKoy.
Meanwhile, Sayegh administration’s actions relating to the police chief is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees. There were talks of a settlement, but that fell apart when the mayor moved on the audit.
Some council members last week opposed the audit. There was little discussion on the measure on Tuesday night. There have been suggestions Sayegh is attempting to target Oswald through the audit.
Oswald has received praise for his work since becoming chief in Feb. 2018. Under his watch murder declined by 50-percent; non-fatal shootings also dropped by 37-percent in 2018, according data police released earlier in the year. He is also credited with the arrest and conviction of seven corrupt police officers, who were violating residents’ civil rights.
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