Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has tapped former Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante as their new public safety director, set to assume his new role next week.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“With our expanding population and city services, Ken’s nearly 30 years of Hoboken experience put him in the best position to lead public safety and assist City Hall as we build off the successes of the past several years,” Bhalla said in a statement.
“I look forward to working with Ken in his new role as he leads the process to modernize our public safety facilities.”
Bhalla and Ferrante both came out in favor of a plan for a public safety headquarters at 1501 Adams St., the site of the Poggi Press building, earlier this week.
The city council voted 5-4 to approve the potential use of eminent domain last night, with Council members Mike DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher, Ruben Ramos, and Jen Giattino voting no.
A $44 million bond related to the project, which requires six affirmative votes, was carried until the next meeting.
Ferrante, also a former Hoboken Office of Emergency Management coordinator, retired as police chief in July after 28 years of service. The public safety director position has been vacant since Jon Tooke retired at the end of 2015.
“I thank Mayor Bhalla for the opportunity to once again serve the City of Hoboken and its residents in this new role,” said Ferrante.
“I can’t wait to get to work with Acting Fire Chief Peskens, Acting Police Chief Aguiar, and OEM Coordinator Montanez to assist them in getting any resources they need to best run their departments and best protect our residents and visitors.”
With Fire Chief Brian Crimmins still out on administrative leave, both Peskins and Aguiar came out in favor of the hire, with his first day on the new job set for March 16th.
As public safety director, he will analyze crime prevention and fire safety preparedness, update and implement strategic public safety policies and procedures that ensure public safety, and adjust departmental methods and protocols to increase operational efficiencies.
He will also develop and monitor department budgets while finding cost saving measures, liaise with other agencies, and conduct community relations and public information programs, among other duties, at an annual salary of $155,000, city spokeswoman Marilyn Baer said.
The new hire appeared to catch some city council members off guard at last night’s meeting.
“One of the lines, which is not on the first temporary appropriation, is public safety director. Salary and wages 17-3. I’m assuming this is [County] Commissioner [Anthony] Romano?,” Giattino asked during last night’s council meeting.
“He is included in that, yes,” replied Business Administrator Jason Freeman.
Romano, a retired police captain, began working as the city’s public safety advisor in January at an annual salary of $50,000.
“But he’s getting paid $50,000 a year?,” Giattino said.
“Yes, there is a additional consideration for a full-time public safety director,” Freeman answered, declining to mention who was being considered for the role upon further questioning from Giattino, though Fisher interjected that it would likely be Ferrante.
” … It feels like it was a little bit hidden in there and I don’t appreciate that,” Giattino added.
The temporary budget appropriation passed 6-1(2), with Ramos voting no and DeFusco and Giattino abstaining.
Just before the five-hour meeting concluded, Ramos said he thought that Aguiar, who was just sworn in at the beginning of the month, should have the opportunity to prove himself before he’s given a new boss, with Peskens afforded the same courtesy.
“I’d rather use that salary to hire more police officers so they can enforce e-bikes on sidewalks, so they can enforce the smoking in the parks, there’s other things that need to be enforced – that salary can be used better with boots on the ground as opposed to another administrator sitting at a desk.”