Jump to content

Chief John Dowie_ A STAND-UP GUY


Guest Guest
 Share

Recommended Posts

Over objections of Dowie, others, council changes police table of organization Kevin Canessa Jr. KEARNY —

Despite vehement objections from a good portion of the Kearny Police Department and Chief John Dowie, the mayor and town council last week voted to adopt an ordinance that will reduce the total number of deputy chiefs in the department from three to two, and that will also cap the total amount of police officers who can be on the job at any given time. The change will take effect through attrition — and as such, no one will be demoted. When one of the current deputy chiefs next leaves his position, he simply won’t be replaced.

The meeting was packed with what appeared to be more than 100 cops and firefighters — and because there were more than the maximum occupancy allowed in the town hall council chamber, the meeting had to be moved to the auditorium at Kearny High School.

Mayor Alberto G. Santos says the change to the table of organization was needed because a few years ago, when he and the council increased the number of deputy chiefs from two to three, he was told there would be a considerable savings in overtime among captains. However, in 2007, Santos says there has hardly been a noticeable savings in captains’ overtime.

Police Chief John Dowie says the overtime was excessive this year only because three of his six captains have been out on extended medical leave at one point or another in 2007. And, as such, he’s not at all pleased with the change to the ordinance. And it’s not just the overtime that has him fuming.

Dowie was one of the last people gathered in the large crowd to address the mayor and council. And the usually mild-mannered Dowie showed a lot of emotion — and apparent frustration — when he spoke.

“Some time back, when we were in negotiations, and because you people wanted the input from the department heads, I suggested setting aside two days for training purposes,” Dowie said. “That would have cost us $43,000 a cycle. And here we are now — nothing has happened with that. And we could have saved a lot more money. Now, with this ordinance, you’ve got a lot of hard-working people upset, and you’re just taking the heart right out of this place.

“I’ve definitely tried hard to do things right, because I love this place. And based on the way this has been handled, I must say I don’t appreciate this at all.”

Dowie says he’s upset because when he became chief a decade ago, he walked into a position with a department that was at war with the mayor and town council at that time. The department was reeling after serious cutbacks were made to the department — without much input from police brass — by former Kearny Mayor Leo R. Vartan and former Business Administrator Robert Czech. Back then, numerous patrol and administrative positions were eliminated, and despite vociferous objections from the civil service union, the department was forced to toy with civilian dispatchers. That experiment hardly lasted long — as within about a year, sworn officers were back at the dispatching console.

“Ten years ago, at my first council meeting, you had police officers carrying signs at the meeting,” Dowie said. “But you brought us back. And now we’re starting to slip back down.”

Dowie says cutting back to two deputy chiefs would eventually cause logistical, scheduling and economic hardships.

First, when the next deputy chief retires, a captain would replace him, most likely. And, when there’s a need to fill the captain’s position when he’s off duty or out sick, overtime will come into play. Deputy chiefs, on the other hand, aren’t eligible for overtime.

Next — and perhaps even worse — Dowie says the reduction would lead to a decline in morale. In essence, officers in other ranks would know that when a deputy chief retires, there wouldn’t be a series of promotions, as is normally the case.

Dowie says those on the council who voted for the reduction would be the ones responsible for the decline in morale.

“Everyone sits up there and thinks moral comes in a paycheck,” Dowie said. “I’m here to tell you that’s not the case at all, alright.”

The entire process by which the table of organization ordinance was introduced also upsets the chief. He says a few weeks ago, he was told the ordinance would be pulled so he could, as a department head, offer critiques of the changes, before they were put up for a vote. And, because he believed the ordinance had been tabled, he didn’t inform his officers immediately about a need to speak at a council meeting.

Much to his surprise — and Santos denies this is the case — Dowie says he showed up at the last council meeting only to find the ordinance had been put back on the agenda. And he believes it was done this way to ensure there wasn’t a throng of cops at the last meeting.

“Yet, I couldn’t ask for a better relationship with you people,” Dowie said. “And I think I’ve responded in kind. But you all know me. I often go home after a 10-hour day — and many of my guys miss dinner three, four nights a week. Yes, as a police officer, you sit around some nights. But this town has changed. It has changed a lot. We’ve got more violent crime — and there is little respect for the cop anymore.”

Dowie’s remarks about changes to the town were prompted by a comment made by Santos.

The mayor said when he moved into Kearny in 1979, one of the first memories he had of the town was when a young girl was murdered. Dowie and several other officers — including Detective Brian McGarry, who is related to the victim of that heinous 1979 crime — were visibly upset.

Dowie was so upset that after the council meeting, he showed Deputy Chiefs James and John Corbett, Council members Laura Cifelli Pettigrew, Mike Landy and David Krusznis, former Kearny Board of Education member John Campbell and members of the media a photograph he kept inside a manila folder.

It was photograph was of a large group of young men, who he says were part of a gang — a gang that’s taking a stronghold on Kearny.

“You think Kearny hasn’t changed?” Dowie said, visibly irritated. “Look at this picture. Latin Kings. Did you go to school with people like this? I don’t think there were Latin Kings in Kearny in 1979.”

Meanwhile, before the chief concluded his public remarks, he implored Santos and the council to reconsider their positions — to no avail.

“Think hard about this, will you, please?” Dowie said.

Voting against the ordinance

Ironically, it was the two members of the town police committee — Cifelli Pettigrew and police commissioner Barbara Cifelli Sherry — who voted to reject the ordinance. Sherry says she agreed with Dowie’s input.

“I’ll tell you one thing — I am disappointed,” Sherry said. “Some of the rationale confounded me. I don’t know how this is going to play out, but I just didn’t see how this ordinance is going to make any kind of difference. John (Dowie), Laura (Pettigrew) and I are in contact almost daily. And he knows what he needs, and so do we. Spot decisions are rarely made.”

Still, Sherry says she hopes the chief’s prediction of the department suffering from low morale don’t come to fruition.

“I hope there’s not a morale issue, and I hope they see it for what it is,” she said. “Everyone on that stage was agonizing. It was a difficult decision that everyone had to make. And with Kearny being a small town, we meet these guys at stores, and heck, there are a few cops who sit in front of me at Giants’ games where I have my season tickets. That’s the toughest part of all of this. I just hope everyone realizes we’re all adults — and none of this was done to hurt anybody. Time will tell.”

Other gripes

Aside from their opposition to the table of organization ordinance change, members of the police department appear to have numerous other gripes with the Santos Administration and, notably, Business Administrator Joseph D’Arco.

Sgt. Donald Felle, supervisor of the department’s property and records, says several of his officers have yet to be paid for overtime they performed some time ago.

“For many reasons, they’re (his men) forced to wear many hats,” Felle said. “So they’re often taken away from their primary job they have to do, for me, in the record bureau. And some of that stuff has to do with state and federal mandated things that have to get done on a monthly basis. That being the case, members of my staff, sometimes, are required to work some overtime to get things accomplished.

“Most notably, since September of this year, I’ve had some members of my staff not being paid for work they’ve had to do. And I was told a resolution would have to be presented to approve that overtime. And it also my understanding the chief has requested that resolution be passed, but it hasn’t been presented by the mayor and council for passage yet. Is there anyone on the mayor and council who can tell me why this hasn’t been presented yet for payment?”

D’Arco responded to Felle’s comments.

“The council policy is that for non-emergency overtime, resolutions have to be passed,” D’Arco said. “I saw a number of them on the agenda tonight from various other departments. That’s been the case and the way we’ve handled non-emergency overtime in the six years I’ve been here.”

D’Arco says non-emergency overtime requests must first be submitted by department heads — in this case, Dowie — for prior approval. In this case, D’Arco says the overtime wasn’t approved prior to the work being performed — and he says he sent Dowie a memo to Dowie asking why the overtime was needed — and whether there was someone else on Felle’s staff who could have performed the overtime duties. Dowie never responded, according to D’Arco.

That said, the work was still performed — and some on the council don’t want there to be a situation where employees performed work without being paid. Cifelli Pettigrew was very terse in her remarks which appeared to be directed at D’Arco.

“See, this is what gets me upset. If a guy’s working overtime, and that’s what he was asked to do, and that’s what he did, then pay them the overtime and find a solution later,” Cifelli Pettigrew said to thunderous applause from the crowd.

Felle says that’s precisely the point he was trying to convey.

“I’d like to know why it’s being held up — and if you’d like to defer to the lawyers … the town attorney … about paying wages when due, you know there’s states and federal statutes covering that!” Felle said, his voice raised.

D’Arco shot back quickly.

“Non-emergency overtime is not supposed to be incurred until it is approved,” D’Arco said. “I had no knowledge that that overtime was already incurred. That is a problem internally in the police department. They know the process — they know the procedure. Non-emergency overtime is supposed to be approved in advance. Otherwise, I get reprimanded for not monitoring the overtime that’s spent.”

Not good enough for Felle.

“If you were to turn the tables, and you provided me with some service, and I failed to pay you, your attorneys would already be on the phone to me, and you’d be up at the municipal court signing charged against me for theft of services.”

Santos agreed, somewhat.

“I also want to know where the delay comes in,” he said. “If the work was performed in September, it’s December and if the workers weren’t paid, that’s not right.”

The mayor says he will find out what caused the delay and will work hard to ensure the officers are paid.

A CERTAIN SOMEONE IN HARRISON SHOULD TAKE NOTICE!!!

CHIEF JOHN DOWIE - A CLASS ACT!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest You might want to read the Journ

JOURNAL CORESPONDENT

KEARNY - At a contentious session jammed by Kearny cops and their families, elected officials last week adopted a controversial ordinance that changes the police department's table of organization by reducing the number of deputy chiefs.

Police officers protested that the changes, which also have the potential to limit promotions within the department, will hurt morale and could cause lapses in public safety.

But members of the town's governing body claim that the ordinance could save the cash-strapped town up to $50,000 a year.

Police Chief John Dowie predicted that the ordinance would sour relationships between his department and the governing body.

"I don't feel our relationship is as strong as it was," Dowie said. "I understand the financial constraints. But I don't think it's fair that the Police Department in this case should be hung out like that."

The ordinance reduces the number of deputy chiefs from three to two, adds one sergeant and inserts the phrase "not more than" before each number of personnel at all levels in both the Police and Fire departments.

Elected officials say the wording change eliminates automatic promotions in both departments and instead gives officials flexibility in determining when promotions should be made.

Mayor Al Santos has emphasized that the reduction in deputy chiefs will be accomplished through attrition, not through layoffs or demotions.

Officials adopted the measure in a split vote, with Second Ward Councilwomen Barbara Cifelli-Sherry and Laura Pettigrew rejecting the ordinance. Cifelli-Sherry chairs the town's Police Committee.

The town originally eliminated a sergeant's spot and added a deputy chief three years ago to save money on overtime. Elected officials say the overtime savings never materialized.

However, Dowie has argued that this year the deputy chiefs recorded an unusual amount of overtime due to higher than normal sick time used by captains within the department.

Speakers on both sides of the issue referred to a financial report prepared by town finance officers showing that salaries and expenses related to the Police and Fire departments account for half of Kearny's municipal budget.

The report also compared staffing levels with those of other municipalities.

"When the Police and Fire departments combined account for half of the municipal budget, that's a fact," said Santos. "We added a deputy chief because we were told it would yield overtime savings. We haven't seen that. We're the only department in the county with three deputy chiefs, including Bayonne and Jersey City, which are larger than us."

One of the deputy chiefs, James Corbett, complained that town officials are using the Police Department as a scapegoat when discussing tax increases with residents.

"Basically, the chief is opposing this ordinance, along with two-thirds of the Police Committee, the deputy chiefs and the union," Corbett said. "Is it a good idea to pass this ordinance? I know their (salaries) are high and you think they're out of control, but remember you all approved them. This was not forced on you by an arbitrator."

Referring to the financial report Cifelli-Sherry said, "There was a lot of great information in this, none of which answered my questions. I personally don't give a damn how Harrison or Boonton runs their departments. It doesn't address overtime. It's not fair to use this year because it's not a typical overtime year. I don't think this impacts the town budget in a positive way."

Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle, who chairs the Finance Committee, disagreed with Cifelli-Sherry and others who predicted the ordinance wouldn't have a positive effect on the town's finances.

"As the finance chair, I have to look for cuts," Doyle said. "We're at more than a critical position at this point. I'm going to vote in favor of this ordinance. It's not the easiest position I've taken and it's not personal against anyone sitting out there."

Fire inspector Charles Kerr urged town officials to reject the ordinance in light of massive retail redevelopment planned along Passaic Avenue.

"All of this will require an increased police presence and life safety requirements," Kerr said. "How do you propose these requirements be accomplished safely with staffing levels reduced through attrition?"

Santos pointed out that the ordinance doesn't mandate reductions in manpower for either department.

"There is no reduction in manpower with this ordinance," he said. "If it (redevelopment) happens we'll need to address how to most effectively deploy our resources, but we're not there yet, what we need is more patrol officers and firefighters."

Kearny resident Dorothy Buist, a single mother who works at a bank, said rising taxes and oil prices, along with annual raises at work that don't keep pace with inflation, have left her so cash strapped that she has lowered the thermostat in her home.

As a result of financial pressures, she approved of the ordinance.

"If you want this deputy chief so much why don't you cut your pay and give it to the deputy?" she said. "I can't do it anymore. My heat is at 60 degrees at night because I can't afford oil. I've tried, and I can't cut anymore."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over objections of Dowie, others, council changes police table of organization Kevin Canessa Jr.  KEARNY —

Despite vehement objections from a good portion of the Kearny Police Department and Chief John Dowie, the mayor and town council last week voted to adopt an ordinance that will reduce the total number of deputy chiefs in the department from three to two, and that will also cap the total amount of police officers who can be on the job at any given time. The change will take effect through attrition — and as such, no one will be demoted. When one of the current deputy chiefs next leaves his position, he simply won’t be replaced.

The meeting was packed with what appeared to be more than 100 cops and firefighters — and because there were more than the maximum occupancy allowed in the town hall council chamber, the meeting had to be moved to the auditorium at Kearny High School.

Mayor Alberto G. Santos says the change to the table of organization was needed because a few years ago, when he and the council increased the number of deputy chiefs from two to three, he was told there would be a considerable savings in overtime among captains. However, in 2007, Santos says there has hardly been a noticeable savings in captains’ overtime.

Police Chief John Dowie says the overtime was excessive this year only because three of his six captains have been out on extended medical leave at one point or another in 2007. And, as such, he’s not at all pleased with the change to the ordinance. And it’s not just the overtime that has him fuming.

Dowie was one of the last people gathered in the large crowd to address the mayor and council. And the usually mild-mannered Dowie showed a lot of emotion — and apparent frustration — when he spoke.

“Some time back, when we were in negotiations, and because you people wanted the input from the department heads, I suggested setting aside two days for training purposes,” Dowie said. “That would have cost us $43,000 a cycle. And here we are now — nothing has happened with that. And we could have saved a lot more money. Now, with this ordinance, you’ve got a lot of hard-working people upset, and you’re just taking the heart right out of this place.

“I’ve definitely tried hard to do things right, because I love this place. And based on the way this has been handled, I must say I don’t appreciate this at all.”

Dowie says he’s upset because when he became chief a decade ago, he walked into a position with a department that was at war with the mayor and town council at that time. The department was reeling after serious cutbacks were made to the department — without much input from police brass — by former Kearny Mayor Leo R. Vartan and former Business Administrator Robert Czech. Back then, numerous patrol and administrative positions were eliminated, and despite vociferous objections from the civil service union, the department was forced to toy with civilian dispatchers. That experiment hardly lasted long — as within about a year, sworn officers were back at the dispatching console.

“Ten years ago, at my first council meeting, you had police officers carrying signs at the meeting,” Dowie said. “But you brought us back. And now we’re starting to slip back down.”

Dowie says cutting back to two deputy chiefs would eventually cause logistical, scheduling and economic hardships.

First, when the next deputy chief retires, a captain would replace him, most likely. And, when there’s a need to fill the captain’s position when he’s off duty or out sick, overtime will come into play. Deputy chiefs, on the other hand, aren’t eligible for overtime.

Next — and perhaps even worse — Dowie says the reduction would lead to a decline in morale. In essence, officers in other ranks would know that when a deputy chief retires, there wouldn’t be a series of promotions, as is normally the case.

Dowie says those on the council who voted for the reduction would be the ones responsible for the decline in morale.

“Everyone sits up there and thinks moral comes in a paycheck,” Dowie said. “I’m here to tell you that’s not the case at all, alright.”

The entire process by which the table of organization ordinance was introduced also upsets the chief. He says a few weeks ago, he was told the ordinance would be pulled so he could, as a department head, offer critiques of the changes, before they were put up for a vote. And, because he believed the ordinance had been tabled, he didn’t inform his officers immediately about a need to speak at a council meeting.

Much to his surprise — and Santos denies this is the case — Dowie says he showed up at the last council meeting only to find the ordinance had been put back on the agenda. And he believes it was done this way to ensure there wasn’t a throng of cops at the last meeting.

“Yet, I couldn’t ask for a better relationship with you people,” Dowie said. “And I think I’ve responded in kind. But you all know me. I often go home after a 10-hour day — and many of my guys miss dinner three, four nights a week. Yes, as a police officer, you sit around some nights. But this town has changed. It has changed a lot. We’ve got more violent crime — and there is little respect for the cop anymore.”

Dowie’s remarks about changes to the town were prompted by a comment made by Santos.

The mayor said when he moved into Kearny in 1979, one of the first memories he had of the town was when a young girl was murdered. Dowie and several other officers — including Detective Brian McGarry, who is related to the victim of that heinous 1979 crime — were visibly upset.

Dowie was so upset that after the council meeting, he showed Deputy Chiefs James and John Corbett, Council members Laura Cifelli Pettigrew, Mike Landy and David Krusznis, former Kearny Board of Education member John Campbell and members of the media a photograph he kept inside a manila folder.

It was photograph was of a large group of young men, who he says were part of a gang — a gang that’s taking a stronghold on Kearny.

“You think Kearny hasn’t changed?” Dowie said, visibly irritated. “Look at this picture. Latin Kings. Did you go to school with people like this? I don’t think there were Latin Kings in Kearny in 1979.”

Meanwhile, before the chief concluded his public remarks, he implored Santos and the council to reconsider their positions — to no avail.

“Think hard about this, will you, please?” Dowie said.

Voting against the ordinance

Ironically, it was the two members of the town police committee — Cifelli Pettigrew and police commissioner Barbara Cifelli Sherry — who voted to reject the ordinance. Sherry says she agreed with Dowie’s input.

“I’ll tell you one thing — I am disappointed,” Sherry said. “Some of the rationale confounded me. I don’t know how this is going to play out, but I just didn’t see how this ordinance is going to make any kind of difference. John (Dowie), Laura (Pettigrew) and I are in contact almost daily. And he knows what he needs, and so do we. Spot decisions are rarely made.”

Still, Sherry says she hopes the chief’s prediction of the department suffering from low morale don’t come to fruition.

“I hope there’s not a morale issue, and I hope they see it for what it is,” she said. “Everyone on that stage was agonizing. It was a difficult decision that everyone had to make. And with Kearny being a small town, we meet these guys at stores, and heck, there are a few cops who sit in front of me at Giants’ games where I have my season tickets. That’s the toughest part of all of this. I just hope everyone realizes we’re all adults — and none of this was done to hurt anybody. Time will tell.”

Other gripes

Aside from their opposition to the table of organization ordinance change, members of the police department appear to have numerous other gripes with the Santos Administration and, notably, Business Administrator Joseph D’Arco.

Sgt. Donald Felle, supervisor of the department’s property and records, says several of his officers have yet to be paid for overtime they performed some time ago.

“For many reasons, they’re (his men) forced to wear many hats,” Felle said. “So they’re often taken away from their primary job they have to do, for me, in the record bureau. And some of that stuff has to do with state and federal mandated things that have to get done on a monthly basis. That being the case, members of my staff, sometimes, are required to work some overtime to get things accomplished.

“Most notably, since September of this year, I’ve had some members of my staff not being paid for work they’ve had to do. And I was told a resolution would have to be presented to approve that overtime. And it also my understanding the chief has requested that resolution be passed, but it hasn’t been presented by the mayor and council for passage yet. Is there anyone on the mayor and council who can tell me why this hasn’t been presented yet for payment?”

D’Arco responded to Felle’s comments.

“The council policy is that for non-emergency overtime, resolutions have to be passed,” D’Arco said. “I saw a number of them on the agenda tonight from various other departments. That’s been the case and the way we’ve handled non-emergency overtime in the six years I’ve been here.”

D’Arco says non-emergency overtime requests must first be submitted by department heads — in this case, Dowie — for prior approval. In this case, D’Arco says the overtime wasn’t approved prior to the work being performed — and he says he sent Dowie a memo to Dowie asking why the overtime was needed — and whether there was someone else on Felle’s staff who could have performed the overtime duties. Dowie never responded, according to D’Arco.

That said, the work was still performed — and some on the council don’t want there to be a situation where employees performed work without being paid. Cifelli Pettigrew was very terse in her remarks which appeared to be directed at D’Arco.

“See, this is what gets me upset. If a guy’s working overtime, and that’s what he was asked to do, and that’s what he did, then pay them the overtime and find a solution later,” Cifelli Pettigrew said to thunderous applause from the crowd.

Felle says that’s precisely the point he was trying to convey.

“I’d like to know why it’s being held up — and if you’d like to defer to the lawyers … the town attorney … about paying wages when due, you know there’s states and federal statutes covering that!” Felle said, his voice raised.

D’Arco shot back quickly.

“Non-emergency overtime is not supposed to be incurred until it is approved,” D’Arco said. “I had no knowledge that that overtime was already incurred. That is a problem internally in the police department. They know the process — they know the procedure. Non-emergency overtime is supposed to be approved in advance. Otherwise, I get reprimanded for not monitoring the overtime that’s spent.”

Not good enough for Felle.

“If you were to turn the tables, and you provided me with some service, and I failed to pay you, your attorneys would already be on the phone to me, and you’d be up at the municipal court signing charged against me for theft of services.”

Santos agreed, somewhat.

“I also want to know where the delay comes in,” he said. “If the work was performed in September, it’s December and if the workers weren’t paid, that’s not right.”

The mayor says he will find out what caused the delay and will work hard to ensure the officers are paid.

A CERTAIN SOMEONE IN HARRISON SHOULD TAKE NOTICE!!!

CHIEF JOHN DOWIE - A CLASS ACT!

78383[/snapback]

Looks like a disguntled Harrison cop has too much time on his hands!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over objections of Dowie, others, council changes police table of organization Kevin Canessa Jr.  KEARNY —

Despite vehement objections from a good portion of the Kearny Police Department and Chief John Dowie, the mayor and town council last week voted to adopt an ordinance that will reduce the total number of deputy chiefs in the department from three to two, and that will also cap the total amount of police officers who can be on the job at any given time. The change will take effect through attrition — and as such, no one will be demoted. When one of the current deputy chiefs next leaves his position, he simply won’t be replaced.

The meeting was packed with what appeared to be more than 100 cops and firefighters — and because there were more than the maximum occupancy allowed in the town hall council chamber, the meeting had to be moved to the auditorium at Kearny High School.

Mayor Alberto G. Santos says the change to the table of organization was needed because a few years ago, when he and the council increased the number of deputy chiefs from two to three, he was told there would be a considerable savings in overtime among captains. However, in 2007, Santos says there has hardly been a noticeable savings in captains’ overtime.

Police Chief John Dowie says the overtime was excessive this year only because three of his six captains have been out on extended medical leave at one point or another in 2007. And, as such, he’s not at all pleased with the change to the ordinance. And it’s not just the overtime that has him fuming.

Dowie was one of the last people gathered in the large crowd to address the mayor and council. And the usually mild-mannered Dowie showed a lot of emotion — and apparent frustration — when he spoke.

“Some time back, when we were in negotiations, and because you people wanted the input from the department heads, I suggested setting aside two days for training purposes,” Dowie said. “That would have cost us $43,000 a cycle. And here we are now — nothing has happened with that. And we could have saved a lot more money. Now, with this ordinance, you’ve got a lot of hard-working people upset, and you’re just taking the heart right out of this place.

“I’ve definitely tried hard to do things right, because I love this place. And based on the way this has been handled, I must say I don’t appreciate this at all.”

Dowie says he’s upset because when he became chief a decade ago, he walked into a position with a department that was at war with the mayor and town council at that time. The department was reeling after serious cutbacks were made to the department — without much input from police brass — by former Kearny Mayor Leo R. Vartan and former Business Administrator Robert Czech. Back then, numerous patrol and administrative positions were eliminated, and despite vociferous objections from the civil service union, the department was forced to toy with civilian dispatchers. That experiment hardly lasted long — as within about a year, sworn officers were back at the dispatching console.

“Ten years ago, at my first council meeting, you had police officers carrying signs at the meeting,” Dowie said. “But you brought us back. And now we’re starting to slip back down.”

Dowie says cutting back to two deputy chiefs would eventually cause logistical, scheduling and economic hardships.

First, when the next deputy chief retires, a captain would replace him, most likely. And, when there’s a need to fill the captain’s position when he’s off duty or out sick, overtime will come into play. Deputy chiefs, on the other hand, aren’t eligible for overtime.

Next — and perhaps even worse — Dowie says the reduction would lead to a decline in morale. In essence, officers in other ranks would know that when a deputy chief retires, there wouldn’t be a series of promotions, as is normally the case.

Dowie says those on the council who voted for the reduction would be the ones responsible for the decline in morale.

“Everyone sits up there and thinks moral comes in a paycheck,” Dowie said. “I’m here to tell you that’s not the case at all, alright.”

The entire process by which the table of organization ordinance was introduced also upsets the chief. He says a few weeks ago, he was told the ordinance would be pulled so he could, as a department head, offer critiques of the changes, before they were put up for a vote. And, because he believed the ordinance had been tabled, he didn’t inform his officers immediately about a need to speak at a council meeting.

Much to his surprise — and Santos denies this is the case — Dowie says he showed up at the last council meeting only to find the ordinance had been put back on the agenda. And he believes it was done this way to ensure there wasn’t a throng of cops at the last meeting.

“Yet, I couldn’t ask for a better relationship with you people,” Dowie said. “And I think I’ve responded in kind. But you all know me. I often go home after a 10-hour day — and many of my guys miss dinner three, four nights a week. Yes, as a police officer, you sit around some nights. But this town has changed. It has changed a lot. We’ve got more violent crime — and there is little respect for the cop anymore.”

Dowie’s remarks about changes to the town were prompted by a comment made by Santos.

The mayor said when he moved into Kearny in 1979, one of the first memories he had of the town was when a young girl was murdered. Dowie and several other officers — including Detective Brian McGarry, who is related to the victim of that heinous 1979 crime — were visibly upset.

Dowie was so upset that after the council meeting, he showed Deputy Chiefs James and John Corbett, Council members Laura Cifelli Pettigrew, Mike Landy and David Krusznis, former Kearny Board of Education member John Campbell and members of the media a photograph he kept inside a manila folder.

It was photograph was of a large group of young men, who he says were part of a gang — a gang that’s taking a stronghold on Kearny.

“You think Kearny hasn’t changed?” Dowie said, visibly irritated. “Look at this picture. Latin Kings. Did you go to school with people like this? I don’t think there were Latin Kings in Kearny in 1979.”

Meanwhile, before the chief concluded his public remarks, he implored Santos and the council to reconsider their positions — to no avail.

“Think hard about this, will you, please?” Dowie said.

Voting against the ordinance

Ironically, it was the two members of the town police committee — Cifelli Pettigrew and police commissioner Barbara Cifelli Sherry — who voted to reject the ordinance. Sherry says she agreed with Dowie’s input.

“I’ll tell you one thing — I am disappointed,” Sherry said. “Some of the rationale confounded me. I don’t know how this is going to play out, but I just didn’t see how this ordinance is going to make any kind of difference. John (Dowie), Laura (Pettigrew) and I are in contact almost daily. And he knows what he needs, and so do we. Spot decisions are rarely made.”

Still, Sherry says she hopes the chief’s prediction of the department suffering from low morale don’t come to fruition.

“I hope there’s not a morale issue, and I hope they see it for what it is,” she said. “Everyone on that stage was agonizing. It was a difficult decision that everyone had to make. And with Kearny being a small town, we meet these guys at stores, and heck, there are a few cops who sit in front of me at Giants’ games where I have my season tickets. That’s the toughest part of all of this. I just hope everyone realizes we’re all adults — and none of this was done to hurt anybody. Time will tell.”

Other gripes

Aside from their opposition to the table of organization ordinance change, members of the police department appear to have numerous other gripes with the Santos Administration and, notably, Business Administrator Joseph D’Arco.

Sgt. Donald Felle, supervisor of the department’s property and records, says several of his officers have yet to be paid for overtime they performed some time ago.

“For many reasons, they’re (his men) forced to wear many hats,” Felle said. “So they’re often taken away from their primary job they have to do, for me, in the record bureau. And some of that stuff has to do with state and federal mandated things that have to get done on a monthly basis. That being the case, members of my staff, sometimes, are required to work some overtime to get things accomplished.

“Most notably, since September of this year, I’ve had some members of my staff not being paid for work they’ve had to do. And I was told a resolution would have to be presented to approve that overtime. And it also my understanding the chief has requested that resolution be passed, but it hasn’t been presented by the mayor and council for passage yet. Is there anyone on the mayor and council who can tell me why this hasn’t been presented yet for payment?”

D’Arco responded to Felle’s comments.

“The council policy is that for non-emergency overtime, resolutions have to be passed,” D’Arco said. “I saw a number of them on the agenda tonight from various other departments. That’s been the case and the way we’ve handled non-emergency overtime in the six years I’ve been here.”

D’Arco says non-emergency overtime requests must first be submitted by department heads — in this case, Dowie — for prior approval. In this case, D’Arco says the overtime wasn’t approved prior to the work being performed — and he says he sent Dowie a memo to Dowie asking why the overtime was needed — and whether there was someone else on Felle’s staff who could have performed the overtime duties. Dowie never responded, according to D’Arco.

That said, the work was still performed — and some on the council don’t want there to be a situation where employees performed work without being paid. Cifelli Pettigrew was very terse in her remarks which appeared to be directed at D’Arco.

“See, this is what gets me upset. If a guy’s working overtime, and that’s what he was asked to do, and that’s what he did, then pay them the overtime and find a solution later,” Cifelli Pettigrew said to thunderous applause from the crowd.

Felle says that’s precisely the point he was trying to convey.

“I’d like to know why it’s being held up — and if you’d like to defer to the lawyers … the town attorney … about paying wages when due, you know there’s states and federal statutes covering that!” Felle said, his voice raised.

D’Arco shot back quickly.

“Non-emergency overtime is not supposed to be incurred until it is approved,” D’Arco said. “I had no knowledge that that overtime was already incurred. That is a problem internally in the police department. They know the process — they know the procedure. Non-emergency overtime is supposed to be approved in advance. Otherwise, I get reprimanded for not monitoring the overtime that’s spent.”

Not good enough for Felle.

“If you were to turn the tables, and you provided me with some service, and I failed to pay you, your attorneys would already be on the phone to me, and you’d be up at the municipal court signing charged against me for theft of services.”

Santos agreed, somewhat.

“I also want to know where the delay comes in,” he said. “If the work was performed in September, it’s December and if the workers weren’t paid, that’s not right.”

The mayor says he will find out what caused the delay and will work hard to ensure the officers are paid.

A CERTAIN SOMEONE IN HARRISON SHOULD TAKE NOTICE!!!

CHIEF JOHN DOWIE - A CLASS ACT!

78383[/snapback]

Who are you talking about " a cetain someone should take notice"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JOURNAL CORESPONDENT

KEARNY - At a contentious session jammed by Kearny cops and their families, elected officials last week adopted a controversial ordinance that changes the police department's table of organization by reducing the number of deputy chiefs.

Police officers protested that the changes, which also have the potential to limit promotions within the department, will hurt morale and could cause lapses in public safety.

But members of the town's governing body claim that the ordinance could save the cash-strapped town up to $50,000 a year.

Police Chief John Dowie predicted that the ordinance would sour relationships between his department and the governing body.

"I don't feel our relationship is as strong as it was," Dowie said. "I understand the financial constraints. But I don't think it's fair that the Police Department in this case should be hung out like that."

The ordinance reduces the number of deputy chiefs from three to two, adds one sergeant and inserts the phrase "not more than" before each number of personnel at all levels in both the Police and Fire departments.

Elected officials say the wording change eliminates automatic promotions in both departments and instead gives officials flexibility in determining when promotions should be made.

Mayor Al Santos has emphasized that the reduction in deputy chiefs will be accomplished through attrition, not through layoffs or demotions.

Officials adopted the measure in a split vote, with Second Ward Councilwomen Barbara Cifelli-Sherry and Laura Pettigrew rejecting the ordinance. Cifelli-Sherry chairs the town's Police Committee.

The town originally eliminated a sergeant's spot and added a deputy chief three years ago to save money on overtime. Elected officials say the overtime savings never materialized.

However, Dowie has argued that this year the deputy chiefs recorded an unusual amount of overtime due to higher than normal sick time used by captains within the department.

Speakers on both sides of the issue referred to a financial report prepared by town finance officers showing that salaries and expenses related to the Police and Fire departments account for half of Kearny's municipal budget.

The report also compared staffing levels with those of other municipalities.

"When the Police and Fire departments combined account for half of the municipal budget, that's a fact," said Santos. "We added a deputy chief because we were told it would yield overtime savings. We haven't seen that. We're the only department in the county with three deputy chiefs, including Bayonne and Jersey City, which are larger than us."

One of the deputy chiefs, James Corbett, complained that town officials are using the Police Department as a scapegoat when discussing tax increases with residents.

"Basically, the chief is opposing this ordinance, along with two-thirds of the Police Committee, the deputy chiefs and the union," Corbett said. "Is it a good idea to pass this ordinance? I know their (salaries) are high and you think they're out of control, but remember you all approved them. This was not forced on you by an arbitrator."

Referring to the financial report Cifelli-Sherry said, "There was a lot of great information in this, none of which answered my questions. I personally don't give a damn how Harrison or Boonton runs their departments. It doesn't address overtime. It's not fair to use this year because it's not a typical overtime year. I don't think this impacts the town budget in a positive way."

Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle, who chairs the Finance Committee, disagreed with Cifelli-Sherry and others who predicted the ordinance wouldn't have a positive effect on the town's finances.

"As the finance chair, I have to look for cuts," Doyle said. "We're at more than a critical position at this point. I'm going to vote in favor of this ordinance. It's not the easiest position I've taken and it's not personal against anyone sitting out there."

Fire inspector Charles Kerr urged town officials to reject the ordinance in light of massive retail redevelopment planned along Passaic Avenue.

"All of this will require an increased police presence and life safety requirements," Kerr said. "How do you propose these requirements be accomplished safely with staffing levels reduced through attrition?"

Santos pointed out that the ordinance doesn't mandate reductions in manpower for either department.

"There is no reduction in manpower with this ordinance," he said. "If it (redevelopment) happens we'll need to address how to most effectively deploy our resources, but we're not there yet, what we need is more patrol officers and firefighters."

Kearny resident Dorothy Buist, a single mother who works at a bank, said rising taxes and oil prices, along with annual raises at work that don't keep pace with inflation, have left her so cash strapped that she has lowered the thermostat in her home.

As a result of financial pressures, she approved of the ordinance.

"If you want this deputy chief so much why don't you cut your pay and give it to the deputy?" she said. "I can't do it anymore. My heat is at 60 degrees at night because I can't afford oil. I've tried, and I can't cut anymore."

78424[/snapback]

Just curious why this affects us in Harrison? Who cares what they do in Kearny.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like a stand up guy who looks for Kearny's best interest unilke here. But if he is overly concerned with gangs in Kearny, it sounded like he is keeping it as quiet as possible. The chief should then send letters to all in the community with the pictures in his folder to make all aware of this problem and where it may exist. Many underestimate what these gangs represent. They will kill you in a heartbeat without thinking twice. So if the chief really cares, he would let everyone know what to look for and what to do.

One example of their initiation sh*t. They drive with headlights off, and the first car to flash highbeams at the driver is in for an unpleasant experience. This is one of many.

So if the chief is concerned, he should do something about it instead of using info for his own political garbage, Be a cop first!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like a stand up guy who looks for Kearny's best interest unilke here. But if he is overly concerned with gangs in Kearny, it sounded like he is keeping it as quiet as possible. The chief should then send letters to all in the community with the pictures in his folder to make all aware of this problem and where it may exist. Many underestimate what these gangs represent. They will kill you in a heartbeat without thinking twice. So if the chief really cares, he would let everyone know what to look for and what to do.

One example of their initiation sh*t. They drive with headlights off, and the first car to flash highbeams at the driver is in for an unpleasant experience. This is one of many.

So if the chief is concerned, he should do something about it instead of using info for his own political garbage, Be a cop first!

78505[/snapback]

shop at walmart! :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like a stand up guy who looks for Kearny's best interest unilke here. But if he is overly concerned with gangs in Kearny, it sounded like he is keeping it as quiet as possible. The chief should then send letters to all in the community with the pictures in his folder to make all aware of this problem and where it may exist. Many underestimate what these gangs represent. They will kill you in a heartbeat without thinking twice. So if the chief really cares, he would let everyone know what to look for and what to do.

One example of their initiation sh*t. They drive with headlights off, and the first car to flash highbeams at the driver is in for an unpleasant experience. This is one of many.

So if the chief is concerned, he should do something about it instead of using info for his own political garbage, Be a cop first!

78505[/snapback]

How do you know he is not doing something about it? Isn't bringing it to the attention of the mayor and council, doing something about it? I don't think he is lying, do you?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like a stand up guy who looks for Kearny's best interest unilke here. But if he is overly concerned with gangs in Kearny, it sounded like he is keeping it as quiet as possible. The chief should then send letters to all in the community with the pictures in his folder to make all aware of this problem and where it may exist. Many underestimate what these gangs represent. They will kill you in a heartbeat without thinking twice. So if the chief really cares, he would let everyone know what to look for and what to do.

One example of their initiation sh*t. They drive with headlights off, and the first car to flash highbeams at the driver is in for an unpleasant experience. This is one of many.

So if the chief is concerned, he should do something about it instead of using info for his own political garbage, Be a cop first!

78505[/snapback]

This is actually not true.

http://www.snopes.com/horrors/madmen/lightsout.asp

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...