After about two months of mild controversy, the West New York Board of Commissioners approved a measure moving the local crossing guards under the Department of Public Safety – however, ex-Deputy Mayor Silvio Acosta will remain their supervisor.
Carol Durrant, a West New York crossing guard who last month inquired about Acosta replacing Police Officer Teddy Martinez as her supervisor, asked for the implications of resolution number 21: which was moving the crossing guards from the Department of Public Works to the Department of Public Safety.
“So now, the crossing guards are falling under my, and [Police] Director [Robert] Antolos’ jurisdiction, which is what you guys were concerned about, which is, legitimately so,” said Mayor Felix Roque, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.
“That means that Martinez is gonna be back?,” asked Durrant.
“That means that the department is under my jurisdiction right now and Mr. Martinez stays where he’s at right now,” Roque responded.
After a short back-and-forth where Durrant continued to question if there would be a supervisor change to go with the department switch, Roque said that having a civilian direct the crossing guards would ultimately save the taxpayers money.
“Let me refresh your memory: last month, we spoke about trying to save taxpayers money by having instead of a police officer there in charge of crossing guards, we’re going to have somebody else in charge that saves taxpayers money. That’s what we spoke about last time and we were in agreement with that,” Roque added.
Roque also admitted that longtime critic Ron Scheurle, also a newly elected board of education trustee, was correct in bringing the matter to his attention back in September.
Department of Public Works Commissioner Gabriel Rodriguez then chimed in, hoping to put the issue to rest.
“You’ll be supervised by Silvio Acosta, but overseen by the entire public safety department,” stated Rodriguez, who works with Acosta in DPW (Acosta is the DPW superintendent).
As only Hudson County View reported, the state Department of Community Affairs said in an October 17 letter addressed to Roque and the town that “N.J.S.A. 40A:9-154:1 requires that every adult crossing guard be under the supervision and direction of the police chief or other chief law enforcement officer of a municipality.”