EDISON, NJ – Mayor Thomas Lankey administered oaths of office on Monday to fourteen new police officers and seven paid-firefighters at a Town Hall ceremony before a large gathering of their families, friends and local officials.

“Public safety is municipal government's first priority. Today, my Administration is continuing its commitment to provide the best possible police and fire protection to the people who live and work in Edison,” Lankey said. “We have worked very diligently to do this at the best possible cost to our taxpayers.”

Edison's 14 new officers include four previously employed in other departments: Stephen R. Fingal Jr., an East Orange patrolman since 2008; Mohammad A. Ghafoor, a Middlesex County sheriff’s investigator since 2014; Richard C. Westover Jr., a Metuchen police officer since 2009; and Shanta M. Williams, an East Orange police officer since 2008.

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Additionally, Ghafoor served as a volunteer Edison police auxiliary officer from 2012-14 and he speaks fluent Urdu and Hindi. “Having multilingual officers is a tremendous benefit in a community that is as ethnically diverse as ours,” Chief Bryan said.

Two of the new recruits successfully completed police academy training at their own expense. Robert J. Leoniy graduated from the Camden County Police Academy on December 18, and Dmitri Smolkin, who is also fluent in Russian, graduated from the John H. Stamler Police Academy in Union on December 15.

Eight of the new officers are special law enforcement officers in other towns. They must complete additional police academy classes to be full-certified by the state Police Training Commission as sworn officers.

These include: Joseph G. Bench, a special officer with the Ocean Gate Police Dept.; Jason G. Eckert, a special officer in Hackensack; Brian J. Monico, a special officer in Union City; Tyler D. Newton, a special officer in Cherry Hill, Michael W. Palatella, a special officer in Union City; Nicholas P. Parenty, a special officer in Deal; Chelsea M. Richard, a special officer in Asbury Park; and James J. Whalen II, a special officer in Lakehurst.

Four of these officers will attend required classes at the John H. Stamler Police Academy in Union, and four will attend the Essex County College Police Academy in Cedar Grove.

The new hires brings the Police Department's compliment of sworn officers to 184, and returns the Fire Department's number of full-time firefighters to 135 after this year's retirements. The annual base salary for new police officers is $35,000 and $36,500 for new firefighters.

“Our new police officers have taken a solemn oath today to uphold the law in their professional  and their personal lives,” said Police Chief Thomas Bryan. “Being a police officer means more than carrying a badge and gun. It means carrying a responsibility to do what is right; and be professional and accountable to the people we serve.”

Taking oaths as full-time Edison firefighters were Kenneth DiFrenza, John Hansen, Joseph Horezga, Brian Jones, Brian Kilijanski, Jason Mitchell and Nicholas Sacco.