UPDATE: Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco this afternoon signed a pair of ordinances folding the county police department into the county sheriff’s office.
With his signature, Tedesco officially moved the Bergen County Police Department into the authority of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office while setting the table of organization for the sheriff’s Bureau of Police Services.
The move was approved by the county freeholders by a 6-1 vote on Feb. 25.
“This is a win for the taxpayers, law enforcement, and county government,” Tedesco said today. “In the coming months, Sheriff [Michael] Saudino will take the lead on implementing these critical changes.”
Freeholder Chairwoman Joan Voss said: “We’ve worked on this for years and are so happy it has finally become reality. This is a win-win for Bergen County because it will increase public safety and save us hundreds of millions of dollars going forward.”
Freeholder David Ganz said: “Many thanks to Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco for making the Freeholders a part of this realignment and today’s ceremony by giving us the pens that he used to sign the documents. Today, history is being made in Bergen County, and we are all part of it.”
Freeholder Tracy Zur said: “It is so gratifying to see years of hard work come to fruition. We can now begin to implement this realignment plan to help make law enforcement more efficient and save taxpayers millions of dollars.”
Freeholder Tom Sullivan said: “This is a historic day. The best part is that we will save millions of dollars and maintain and even increase the already top-notch law enforcement services we have throughout the county.”
Freeholder Steve Tanelli said: “The realignment of the Bergen County Police Department into the Bergen County Sherriff’s Office will eliminate redundancy, streamline services, improve communications, enhance public safety and save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 20 years. This is a historic day and a wonderful accomplishment for Bergen County.”
Freeholder John Felice said: “It’s a historic day for the people of Bergen County and the future of law enforcement. One of my objectives when I first ran for office was to work toward the realignment of the county police and we achieved that today. What I find most positive about this experience is that we worked across party lines to make this happen. This is what the people of Bergen County wanted, and today it is a reality.”
Republican Freeholder Maura DeNicola opposed the move from the outset, sayng she doesn’t believe it will save money or improve policing.
Tedesco’s November victory over incumbent Kathleen Donovan, who opposed the move, was a referendum of sorts on the consolidation.
The new county executive predicted it would save county taxpayers anywhere from $90 million to $200 million over the next quarter-century.
Tedesco called the move “historic,” saying that it creates “a new law-enforcement agency guided by a true professional.”
One of the signed ordinances ratifies a Memorandum of Agreement that Tedesco signed with Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino and county Prosecutor John L. Molinelli in his first official act as county executive after being sworn in on Jan. 1.
The second measure renames the BCPD the Bureau of Police Services and caps the number of officers that the sheriff can hire without freeholder approval.
No one will lose his or her job under the MOU signed by Tedesco, Saudino and Molinelli. No changes will be made to the existing labor contracts, either.
Over the long term, however, the sheriff is charged with reducing what will become a combined total of 255 officers to 201 through attrition.
However, he noted there’s more to it than money.
“[A]n equally significant factor is the need to replace redundancies, to become more efficient in the manner in which police services are provided by county govermment and to actually seize upon opportunities to expand such services offered to the residents of Bergen County through this realignment,” the memorandum of understanding says.
The sheriff will “devise a plan whereby County police patrol services will be deployed on a sector basis throughout all of Bergen County, thus improving response times at area colleges and other County owned or operated buildings,” it says.
Saudino will also “make these officers more accessible to the municipal police departments for purposes of backup, force multiplier services, faster specialized services and prisoner transportation.”
Saudino has been huddling with undersheriffs, advisors and others the past two months assembling the initial framework of the new operation.
The select panel has included new department Chief Kevin Pell, a career law enforcement professional who Saudino said has helped him “quickly formulate a template for a smooth transition.” READ MORE….
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