LETTER: Both Jersey City residents and officers benefit from off-duty program, cop says

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In a letter to the editor, Jersey City Police Officer Ramon Aponte pleads his case that both residents and the JCPD benefit from an off-duty security detail program.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter with regard to the mayor’s decision to eliminate the off-duty program from JCPD personnel.

I humbly request for the city council and the mayor to reconsider eliminating a program that has been vital to both the officers and the residents of Jersey City.

The reality is that both the residents and the officers, who serve and protect the city, benefit from this program. Officers who are assigned to these details cover ground around the city by providing a level of security on the streets at no cost to the taxpayer.

The officers on post become a deterrent to those looking to inflict harm on Jersey City residents.

In addition, residents and citizens who visit our great city are provided information and guidance with regard to the area.

Safety, above all else, is our top priority when officers are on patrol or conducting these details. Safety for the vendors’ employees, pedestrian traffic, and motor vehicle traffic on their post.

Who would be providing these services if not officers present? These officers know the city more than anyone else.

A few years back one of our police officers, while working an off-duty detail, was struck by debris near the intersection of Columbus Drive and Marin Blvd. Officers responded and provided aid after other officers observed the incident.

They quickly managed to get him treated at the Medical Center but he sustained serious chest trauma injury.

In time, he was able to recover from those injuries and go back to full time duty, but the steadfast thinking and actions of officers nearby, who also were working that same detail, helped get the officer the treatment he needed.

Imagine if this was a pedestrian, a child or senior citizen, who would need this type of service at a construction site. I say again, who would be providing these services if not police officers?

This program also gives additional income that can provide the officers and their families with a comfortable living. It is no surprise that the city is thriving with huge high rises but just like these high risers, the cost of living in the city is also high.

It is no wonder officers tend to move out because it’s just not affordable to live in Jersey City. Also, families depend on this program, not only to provide for cost of living, but medical expenses as well.

There are families who have dependents with special needs and need the extra funds to help sustain their dependents medical treatments.

How would these officers be able to live and support their families without this program? Especially new officers with their starting salary?

Jersey City will also lose out because the revenue that is generated from the program will be gone. The city sets an administration fee to utilize Jersey City police officers on these off-duty posts. Ten percent is charged to the vendor for every officer used at a site.

On average, an estimated amount of 122 off-duty posts were given out, each day, during the year 2018. This program can quickly generate thousands, if not millions of dollars.

Instead on relying on federal grants and/ or use taxpaying dollars, the funds generated from the program can be used to supply the department with needed equipment, training and help build community programs like the Police Athletic League; the possibilities are endless.

Finally, we all understand what has occurred with this program, but the majority of the department (900 +) and the residents of Jersey City, should not be punished for the few rotten apples (11) that abused it.

I encourage you to look outside of the box and see that this program is a benefit for all who live, work, and enjoy Jersey City.

Sincerely,

Ramon Aponte

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