Friday, September 24, 2010

Next steps: union negotiations and a "revitalized police force"

In what may prove to be a defining moment for the Mayor Zimmer administration, a new Hoboken police department is anticipated to emerge from the numerous changes scheduled for implementation by early December.

With 13 anticipated retirements by year's end, the Hoboken Police Department will be reshaped with negotiations to restart with the City and two police unions in about a week.  Of the thirteen retirements, several are at the rank of lieutenant, one or two are Sergeant  and about eight patrolmen are confirmed.

Changes in redeployment should mean an increase in street patrols of 38 percent with 99 patrolling officers becoming the new standard.  The previous number was 72.  An evening "power shift" instituted by Chief Falco will increase night coverage from 8:00 pm to 4:00 am.

Police Chief Falco speaking earlier.  He described claims by 'critics," re: Hoboken411, the city would see lower police coverage due to the HHA Bureau as false.  Citywide coverage will increase with 99 officers on patrol.

More retirements could in fact come to the fore adding greater flexibility to a younger and vital department.  At the State level, Gov. Christie is moving on reforms, on the pension side a potential rollback of increases back to 2001 is on the legislative table.

Mayor Zimmer expressed positive expectations and the negotiations soon to begin.  "Both sides are very much committed to sitting down and working through the issues and coming to resolution on the contracts.  As far as what happens on December 2nd, officers are expected to follow through retirements on December 1st.. . If they choose not to, there would be some layoffs."

Both unions also expressed optimism on the negotiations.  Vince Lombardi, PBA President felt positive with no layoffs looking ahead saying, "I'm pleased (with the announcement of no layoffs.)  "It was a culmination of everyone taking a pause and stepping back and looking at the big picture."

Describing his appreciation for the members retiring Lombardi said, "It's a personal decision (deciding to retire).  I'm thankful that people choose to retire and hopefully more people will retire too.... You're getting a revitalized police department which is good for everybody."

Mayor Zimmer and PBA President Lombardi spoke after the event
and were then joined in their impromptu chat by Police Chief Falco (left).
Additional feedback from various people both inside and outside the administration was throughly upbeat.  Perry Belfiore, an opponent critical of the Zimmer administration and who recently made a classy apology for harsh comments in a recent City Council meeting was ultimately pleased with the outcome.  "The mechanics were always there to put the plan together.  People dug their heels in... and it didn't have to be done with acrimony.  The mechanics were always there.  But you know what I'm going to sleep well tonight, because it's a good day for Hoboken."

David Liebler, a Hoboken resident was appreciative of the news asking for a rundown of changes at City Hall.  "Increased patrolmen on the streets?  That's great.  The mayor has done a great job," he said smiling broadly.  He later commented on Hoboken Patch further detailing the win, "Hoboken now has a 38% police increase on our streets!  This is amazing! Very thankful."

Public Safety Director Angel Alicea described the overall efforts announced today as intense saying he had slept only six hours in a week working through everything including the plan to meet HUD's stringent federal requirements.  "We want to ensure there's no problems, that everything goes smoothly," he said on the implementation plans for the HHA Bureau.  He was appreciative of the mayor's efforts adding, "Her leadership has been outstanding."

Vision Media Marketing Inc. announced suspension of its media campaign in an email statement earlier this afternoon.  The campaign "Keep Hoboken Safe" ceases at the direction of their client, the Hoboken PBA.

Hoboken411 is left alone pushing a negative line in what was a universally well received announcement today.  They're calling the negotiations planned with announced retirements expected December 1st as "kicking the can...after election time.

Other police layoffs and demotions of superior officers will be postponed until December 2nd (i.e., “kicking the can down the road” – after election time).
As expected, the city press release only reports the news in a way that reflects positive actions by the administration. Several officers indicated that the math doesn’t add up – and that the “additional officers assigned to patrol the streets” will result in cuts in other crucial areas of the department.

Talking Ed Note: There was genuine satisfaction all around in today's announcement.  The change was frankly as equally surprising as the tremendous savings and improvement in street patrols - something no one predicted.

Hoboken411 is promising "more to come."  So is MSV.  If word comes back of the Hoboken hating Hobo411 minions, we have some more surprises.  Bet on it.

Related: Hoboken Patch is first up with a complete story.

Revitalized Police Department emerges

City of Hoboken announces:


The Zimmer Administration is announcing a series of actions and initiatives, including a police redeployment plan, that save taxpayers money, enhance community safety, and avoid the layoffs of police officers through retirements and the previously announced interlocal agreement with the Hoboken Housing Authority.

"Today, I am proud to announce that we are achieving the cost savings our taxpayers need while improving safety and avoiding layoffs. From the beginning, I've stated that each retirement submitted will save an officer from being laid off. Everyone in our community wins, and I am incredibly thankful to everyone who worked constructively over the past few weeks to make this happen," said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. "I want to be very clear: This was never about political agendas. This is about doing what's in the best interest of all of the people of Hoboken."

Mayor Zimmer's redeployment plan, which was developed with and embraced by Police Chief Falco, reorganizes the Police Department to be as efficient and effective as possible and ensures resident safety by dramatically increasing on-street patrols.

"Through redeployment and civilianization of certain positions, we are drastically increasing the number of police personnel assigned to patrol Hoboken's streets by 38 percent from 72 to 99 officers," said Mayor Zimmer.

Additionally, in order to enhance community safety when activity is highest and restaurants and bars are crowded with residents and visitors, a power shift will be instituted increasing patrol coverage by up to 16 officers between the hours of 8pm and 4am.

The plan calls for technology upgrades to police vehicles and phones, substantial improvements to the fleet, and begins discussions regarding a new Police building.

On Wednesday, September 22, the Housing Authority unanimously approved an interlocal agreement established between the Administration and Housing Authority Executive Director Garcia. The agreement, which also calls for the creation of a Public Safety Resident Council, will improve safety for area residents, save taxpayers money, and save five police jobs.

"I'm very pleased that through my Administration's initiatives with the Police Department, police unions, and the Housing Authority, we were able to realize the cost savings we need to potentially avoid any officers losing their job," said Mayor Zimmer. "In addition to the five jobs saved through the Housing Authority Bureau, we have already accepted the retirements of five police officers and the written commitment of an additional seven officers to retire by December 1st."

The Administration has learned that an additional officer on disability will not be returning to the force.
In addition to the five layoffs already averted through retirements, an additional five layoffs will be averted when the agreement between the City and the Housing Authority is approved by the City Council and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The remaining layoffs will be postponed until December 2nd, and will be cancelled if the expected retirements occur. Civil Service law also requires the temporary postponement of the demotions until that time.

"Both unions have committed to resuming negotiations with the City," said Corporation Counsel Mark Tabakin. "Although much work needs to be done, it is our hope that further cost savings can be effectuated through the negotiations process."

The layoffs of City Hall employees are still proceeding.

"I am incredibly appreciative of our employees and the hard work they do for the City," said Mayor Zimmer. "As I have said before, this is not in any way a reflection of their work. They are the victims of the fiscal challenges our City faces."

Highlights of Redeployment Plan

·        After full implementation of the redeployment plan on December 2nd, the size of the Police force will be reduced from 153 to 140 officers, including 5 from the Housing Authority Bureau.
·        The plan will correct the top-heaviness of the force through retirements and the implementation of demotions.
·        An additional 27 officers (from 72 to 99) – an increase of 38 percent – will be assigned to patrol our streets.
·        A power shift from 8pm to 4am will increase street patrols from approximately 9 officers to more than 20 officers during peak activity hours.
·        A revised Housing Authority Interlocal agreement will increase safety in the Housing Authority area by providing more consistent coverage through dedicated patrol division.

Net result: a more efficient force, focused on providing better public safety through a significant increase in street patrols.

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Mayor Zimmer at City Hall today

MSV Exclusive: City Hall Press Conference Live @ 11:00

Mayor Dawn Zimmer announces there will be no layoffs due to savings with 13 police retirements scheduled by December 2nd.  Police coverage on the street will increase from 72 to 99 officers.  Negotiations with the unions will commence and there is a positive sense of accomplishment on all sides today and good faith appears the order of the day.

17 municipal workers will be laid off today as scheduled.  Expectations remain the retirements will go through by December 2nd and negotiations will also continue with all sides working together to deliver on the plan so no police officers will lose their jobs.

More to come.

MSV was not able to repost the conference broadcast live due to a technical issue.  Many who were here did see the conference broadcast.

City Hall Alert! - Mayor to hold news conference at 11:00

Mayor Zimmer will be holding a news conference at 11:00 on the front steps of City Hall.

The mayor will be joined by Police Chief Falco and Executive Director of the Hoboken Housing Authority.

Check back on MSV @ 11:00.