Freeholders agenda includes $61k ask from HCPO, but it will be tabled, chairman says

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The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders agenda currently includes a roughly $61,000 request from the county prosecutor’s office, but the item will be tabled on Thursday, Chairman Anthony Vainieri (D-8) says.

The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders from their Sept. 13th, 2018 meeting.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“After talking to some local law enforcement officials and freeholders following our caucus meeting today, I’ve made the decision to make a motion to table on Thursday,” Vainieri said over the phone this evening.

“Freeholder Vice Chair O’Dea said he’d be willing to second that motion, so it won’t be on the agenda. I’m referring to this matter to the Public Safety Committee to be heard at a later date.”

O’Dea, who was one of several electeds who questioned why the item was still being considered after the sheriff’s office pulled a $26,000 request for riot gear, confirmed that he would second the motion to table.

“I am glad this item is being pulled and sent to committee. We need to get our priorities in order and start addressing racial inequality with our law enforcement agencies policies by enacting needed reforms like ending choke holds,” he stated.

According to sales quotes obtained by HCV, the bulk of the HCPO’s request was 100,000 rounds of Winchester .223 caliber, 55 grain, soft point bullets – for a total cost of $52,836 from the vendor Atlantic Tactical. The date of that quote was April 20th of this year.

A memorandum from the same day from the HCPO says that the bullets were necessary for “assessment, development, and training states of the Hudson County Regional SWAT Team.”

HCPO Executive Assistant Prosecutor Gene Rubino made a similar argument during today’s meeting.

“When you practice and it’s methodical, and you practice over and over and over to do your best and to get it right and to do it safely, you’re going to go through a lot of ammunition.”

While the focus of the conversation about the ammunition, the agenda item was for $60,731.50 – with the remaining balance ($7,895.51) allocated to various equipment such as blast powder grenades, smoke grenades, and a magazine transfer box, according to a sales quote from April 24th.

Many found Suarez’s request puzzling, given that Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari and the county administration pulled his riot gear request following significant public backlash Monday evening – largely due to the fact that all of the local George Floyd protests have been very peaceful thus far.

In a similar vein, the Hudson County Department of Corrections rescinded a request for 75 batons that would have cost around $11,000.

A spokeswoman for the HCPO did not return an email asking why they did not agree to pull their request ahead of the freeholders caucus meeting.