Mayor Andre Sayegh administered the oath of office to a dozen new officer recruits on Tuesday morning as Paterson races to rebuild the ranks of the police force amid surging shootings and murders.
Sayegh swore in the 12 – six men and six women — new recruits at City Hall. The new recruits have passed their examinations and background checks. They still have to spend the next six months at the police academy before they can be deployed to tackle crime.
“I’m very encouraged by the fact that half of our class is made up of ladies,” said Sayegh in touting the diversity of the class. He said the six are women of color.
Number of police officers in the force dropped to the same level as after the big 2010 layoff. Sayegh has been trying to rebuild by hiring more of them as shootings and killings have spiked.
Paterson registered the highest number of homicides in 31 years in 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made rebuilding the force much more difficult. Bigger classes are nearly an impossibility because of the virus.
“We’ve had academies that have been postponed because of Covid-19. So, it could be longer than six months for you,” Sayegh told the recruits.
Municipal officials hope to have the dozen new recruits deployed by summer.
“You have been given an opportunity, an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of all of those you encounter over the next 25 to 30 years,” said public safety director Jerry Speziale to the class. “Policing is a profession like no other. Never miss an opportunity to make a positive impact on someone’s life.”
Sayegh hopes to increase the number of police officers in the force to 415 by summer. Before the layoff in 2010, Paterson had almost 500 police officers.
“I expect all of you to serve your community with dignity and respect and empathy,” said police chief Ibrahim “Mike” Baycora.
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