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DV Pilot police & fire

Saddle Brook mayor battling police chief to bitter end

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A PUBLISHER WRITES: Although many hoped the final weeks of Saddle Brook Mayor Karen Chamberlain’s term would be without the contentiousness that came before, a new tempest has been stirred with her sudden appointment of a police dispatcher — rankling her longtime adversary, Police Chief Robert Kugler.

Kugler submitted recommendations two months ago to hire a pair of applicants who were backgrounded and found eligible for the job.

One was hired, while the other declined the borough’s offer.

Kugler said he began backgrounding another applicant, as he was advised to do.

Jerry DeMarco

Chamberlain yesterday sent an email, a copy of which was obtained by CLIFFVIEW PILOT , that said:

“Please be advised that as of Wednesday, November 19, 2014, I will be hiring Mr. Gregory Korczak…as a Dispatcher to the Police Department. Mr. Korczak is a Recreation Coach and a Special Police Officer. If there are any other requirements the Mr. Korczak needs to meet please advise.”

It wasn’t the kind of present that Kugler had expected for his birthday yesterday.

For one thing, the chief said, he never received an application. As a result, there’s been no background check.

Kugler said he’s reached out to Korczak to file an application.

That’s all well and good. But there’s more to the process.

“Any additional dispatcher hires were contigent on transitioning to the possibility of the 12-hour shift schedule,” the chief said. “In the current 8-hour shift there are three shifts and we only need three dispatchers. In the 12-hour shift scenario we would need four.

“We need to properly negotiate with the PBA to see if the 12-hour shift proposal will be a reality.”

Kugler isn’t the only one annoyed.

Ray Hayducka, a past president and now spokesperson for the state chiefs association, has blasted Chamberlain before. He also threatened to take her to court last year when she tried to make Kugler run any and all information, comments or correspondence to the media through her or the township business administrator first.

Suddenly appointing a police dispatcher without advice and consent of the chief is “unprofessional and not in the best interests of the police department and community as a whole,” Hayducka said, noting that the mayor emailed Kugler through her secretary while in Florida.

Director of Public Safety Louis V. D’Arminio emphasized that the new mayor come Jan. 1 — Saddle Brook DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF Robert White — “should be included in any hiring process that now takes place.

“Not doing so will have and adverse effect on the police department and the Township of Saddle Brook,” said D’Arminio, who has his own history with Chamberlain.

We’d like to think that as we near 2015 small-time small-town politics has begun fading into history.

We’d also like to think that folks such as Gregory Korczak are no longer put in uncomfortable circumstances that they’ve had nothing to do with.

All we can say is: Jan. 1 can’t come soon enough. White is a no-nonsense professional with a reputation for making sound decisions.

Before he takes the oath, perhaps his outgoing predecessor will snap out of it, show some class and behave maturely and responsibly.

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