In the latest chapter of the ongoing saga between Mayor Steven Fulop and the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association, Fulop says crime has been down in the past four months without a chief – despite claims to the contrary.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Despite PBA President Carmine Disbrowâ€™s attempts to steer the conversation to the absence of a police chief, the fact is that crime is actually down during this time period,â€ Fulop said in a statement.
â€œDirector Shea and the police leadership and the men and women of the department have been continuing to reduce crime and the results speak to that success. We will continue to be thorough and diligent in our search for a new police chief, while working with the police department and the residents to continue to improve public safety.”
Fulop continued that all of the city’s other unions, including the police supervisors, have all successfully negotiated new contracts that are similar to the one made to the PBA.
Last night, about 50 members of the Jersey City POBA protested outside a $500 a plate Fulop fundraiser at Liberty House Restaurant, where the off-duty officers held up signs that said “keep the politics out of the JCPD” and “where is our chief???”
“We have no police chief for fourth months. We asked at the council meeting, when are we getting a police chief? I got no response from the city,” Disbrow told Hudson County View in a one-on-one interview last night.
Despite the union complaints on the subject, Fulop’s office says that crime has been down in the four months that Police Director James Shea has been overseeing the department.
Between June 1st and today (September 26th), there have been three homicides and 30 shooting incidents, the lowest for the same four-month time span dating back to at least 2010, the mayor’s office says.
On that note, it is also worth mentioning that no shooting data was available between 2010 and 2013, years where there were at least four homicides recorded annually in Jersey City (2010 had 10 record homicides).
Fulop also called Disbrow’s claims that negotiations with the JCPOBA broke down shortly after a controversial fiery crash on June 4th “false,” stating that there have been numerous negotiation days – some of them 16 hours long – since then.
Furthermore, the mayor disputed the notion that the city has ignored the union since they spoke out at the September 13th council meeting.
According to Fulop, the sticking point is that the union’s attorneys have said they will only entertain an offer that would allow any officer to utilize comp days at any given time throughout the department.
Last night, Disbrow of course expressed a different point of view.
â€œOne of the bigger issues is the sick policy, where it would affect members of my department who actually have cancer, who have serious illnesses. In our opinion, weâ€™d be penalized for having serious illnesses,â€ he said.
The mayor also turned around the criticism that he has been playing politics in these nine months of negotiations, stating it’s really the opposite that’s true.
“While the union may want to misrepresent the truth to play politics, the administration has an obligation to set the record straight on public safety and let residents know that we have been beyond diligent in protecting our neighborhoods,â€ Fulop exclaimed.
In a statement responding directly to Fulop late this afternoon, Disbrow credited the union’s protest for getting the mayor to talk publicly about their contract dispute, again stating his opinion that politics are being put before public safety.
“Mayor Fulop can look at statistics as a snapshot in time all that he wants, and give credit to his politically appointed Public Safety Director, but the reality remains that he is leading the Jersey City Police Department down a very dangerous path,” Disbrow began.
“Perhaps if Mayor Fulop spent less time campaigning he’d have a better understanding of what’s really happening within our police department. If he was at the negotiating table he’d know that we have offered unprecedented givebacks.”
Disbrow also challenged Fulop to produce the last offer the administration made the JCPOBA, standing by his claim that the city has not reached out since the most recent council meeting.
“The deals other unions received, especially those who have made campaign contributions, are irrelevant to our calls for a contract that simply asks for salary parity for new minority police officers and reduced attacks on the health and well-being of our members.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated with new information.