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DV Pilot police & fire

Elmwood Park officials reject merger with Bergen County PD

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

CVP SCOOP: Elmwood Park’s mayor and council last night unanimously said they oppose having the Bergen County Police Department assume responsibility for protecting the borough.

Mayor Richard A. Mola took a public poll of the six council members amid concerns over a CLIFFVIEW PILOT article earlier this week saying the possibility was being discussed by what a source said were “ officials faced with spending caps needing to find a way to do more with less.”

The rank-and-file in Elmwood Park said the report came as news to them, given that borough officials rejected the prospect earlier this year.

The idea arose last November. Talks continued into February after Chief Donald Ingrasselino and six other officers abruptly resigned from the department late last year. They represented a fifth of what was a 40-member department and included Ingrasselino’s likely successor, Deputy Chief John Palmeri.

New leadership was put in place, including several officers who are awaiting promotions.

Officers were feeling that the department had turned a corner when they heard of the possible new development, said Elmwood Park Police Benevolent Association President David Meyers, who asked the m ayor and council to take a stand.

He and his fellow officers were pleased with the vote.

“I’m glad that we can put this behind us and move forward together,” Meyers told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this morning.

The officers have been extremely pleased with Police Chief Thomas Johnson, who was sworn in last month.

“The union is 110 percent behind the chief,” Meyers said. “He’s a wonderful person, a past PBA delegate and just a great guy.”

Borough officials have managed to keep the 2012-13 municipal budget within a state mandated
2% spending cap, even with a combined $1.2 million in contractually obligated compensation — including unused sick days and other time off — that is owed to the retierd officers.

The future of policing throughout Bergen County remains in flux. The findings of a committee studying county-level consolidation of law enforcement was briefly delayed amid the death last week of its chairman’s father, J. Fletcher Creamer Sr.

County freeholders have been awaiting the committee’s report before conducting public hearings on Donovan’s proposed spending plans for the county police, prosecutor’s office and sheriff’s department.

The panel’s findings still must first go to Donovan, who will review them and offer her own recommendations when releasing the report. The panel was created to suggest how best to protect the county with the least overlap following a study commissioned by her predecessor, Dennis McNerney, that questioned duplication of services.

Against that backdrop, battles have raged between Donovan and Sheriff Michael Saudino over the role of the county police.

Although the study spoke of consolidating and possibly eliminating the department, the BCPD has entered into agreements with towns eager to cut costs by having it handle their public safety responsibilities.

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