Councilwoman opposes rehiring retired police chief

ONLY ON CVP: A Teaneck councilwoman told CLIFFVIEW PILOT she agrees with the state police chiefs association in opposing a plan to rehire retired Police Chief Robert Winters — first for a six-month stint that keeps him on the payroll and then as police director.

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Katz & Toffler

“Not every council member in Teaneck supports the public safety director position and the convoluted restructuring it would entail,” Councilwoman Barbara Ley Toffler, Ph.D., told the website.

“As a member of the Teaneck Council, I am strongly opposed to this restructuring and will lay out, in detail, my points of opposition at the Tuesday, Sept. 14th Council meeting,” she wrote in an email to CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

On the other side of the argument is Councilman Elie Katz, who told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that the plan to keep Wilson on the payroll, even though his state pension has kicked in, “is the right thing to do for Teaneck residents.”

(SEE: Councilman calls rehiring retired chief ‘the right thing,’ despite opposition from powerful police chiefs’ union)

In his own email to the site, Katz called the move “a real opportunity to give management better controls of the administrative functions of our police and fire department.”

This is exactly the type of micro-managing that the New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police said could prove disastrous, given the relative lack of experience by elected officials in police work.

“It’s something that we have not tried and can be abolished ‘at the stroke of a pen’ if we find that its not the best route to go,” said Katz, a former mayor and deputy mayor.

(FOR MORE, CLICK: State chiefs’ group plans to blast Teaneck council for re-hiring retired chief)

Far right: Retired Teaneck Police Chief Robert Wilson

This means that Wilson — who has been rehired under a special contract — can be let go at any moment. Which then raises the question: Who would be in charge?

“The reason they originally created the office of the chief in the first place is so decisions could be make without political reprisal,” South Brunwick Police Chief Ray Hayduca, vice-president of the NJSACP, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

Members of the police chiefs association and both the Teaneck and state PBS are so incensed by the plan that they’ve organized a major show of opposition for Tuesday night in Teaneck. Meanwhile, the chiefs’ group is moving to have Wilson bounced from their association.

They already have met with members of the Teaneck PBA and are anxiously awaiting Tuesday’s meeting.

By signing Wilson to a six-month municipal contract following his retirement, Teaneck officials are allowing him to keep his state pension — while giving him a $110,000-a-year salary and full benefits — until January, when they will be allowed, by law, to hire him as police director. Opponents have called it the very antithesis of what Gov. Chris Christie is trying to do by limiting payments for unused sick days and vacation days, he said.

Wilson is retiring with a full pension. By law, he cannot return as a civilian director for six months. So, the association says, they’re bringing him back as a deputy manager, under a private contract, for six months. They then intend to reinstate him as public safety director, possibly in a merger with Bogota, police sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

“The town would be safer if they used that money to put another cop on the street,” Hayduca told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

Katz said he appreciated the various chiefs’ input, but that “it’s a greater issue then just what the PBA and Chiefs want.

“I have always been willing to look at different creative options and not just accept the “status quo” because that’s how it has always been done in the past,” Katz told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “The past practices are not working and need a fix.”

Convincing Toffler and the powerful police chiefs’ association of that could be near-impossible.


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