After dozens of police officers were quarantined or infected by Covid-19, the Paterson police force is facing a staffing shortage.
Public safety director Jerry Speziale estimated as many as three dozen police officers have been either quarantined or infected by Covid-19.
“We’ve been hit pretty good by Covid. Some are vaccinated and were hit — some are unvaccinated. It’s not discriminating in any way,” said Speziale. He said most police officers in the force are vaccinated.
Speziale said police brass will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday morning to devise a plan to mitigate the effects of staffing shortage, including having one-person police units. He also said police have put in place a mask mandate and aggressive disinfecting procedures. He said the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to support the police force amid the staffing shortage.
“At the request of Director Speziale the Sheriff’s Office is assisting Paterson Police Department with routine patrols, responding to emergency calls and taking police reports. Sheriff Officers are attending Paterson Police lineups and assisting with whatever issues arise during this staffing crisis, ” said Passaic County sheriff Richard Berdnik.
Paterson could see as many as 10 sheriff units allocated depending on availability and call volumes.
Speziale said sheriff’s officers have been assisting the police force since Monday.
Members of the City Council said they were not aware of the staffing problems at the police department.
“I think it’s irresponsible,” said councilman Luis Velez, who is a member of the public safety committee, referring to the mayor’s failure to notify the council. “He as the CEO should be more responsible in informing the community about what’s going on with the police department.”
Mayor Andre Sayegh did not respond to a request for comment.
Paterson is seeing a fresh surge in Covid-19 cases. On Tuesday, the city had 230 infections, highest figure in months.
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