HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ  - Mayor Jack DeLorenzo addressed several issues regarding the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department in his Mayor’s report during the Borough council meeting on September 24.  The Council also heard from the public on issues concerning the Police Department as well.

“In cooperation with our labor attorneys, we have reached an agreement with two firms to conduct simultaneous investigations at the police department,” DeLorenzo stated. “One firm will review the police department policies and operating procedures, the other one will look into the allegations made by PBA Local 102.” 

Concerning last meeting’s speech to the Council by Marissa Romano, the Mayor responded.

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“Having looked at the results,” DeLorenzo stated. “I can understand the disappointment she felt,  It took a lot of courage to come to the microphone and share that experience. I applaud her concern for future female candidates, but while we can not go back, I can assure that any hiring under our/my administration will be handled fairly.”

Former Mayor Rose Heck addressed the Council concerning two police matters, first expressing her pleasure in seeing the charges against Police Chief Michael Colaneri Sr. dropped, and his subsequent reinstatement.  During the “short time Chief Colaneri was under suspension” it came to her attention that, through Facebook, that there was another police officer who was also suspension with full pay, and has been for “close to three years.”  

"It seems inappropriate that we would be investigating someone for that length of time, costing the Borough, probably over a couple of hundred thousand dollars," said Heck. "That is unacceptable, and as Police Commissioner you should be expediting that investigation.”

Mayor DeLorenzo agreed, and said he was “absolutely trying to expedite it.”

Heck then spoke about Romano, noting that was during her time as Mayor and Councilman DiPisa’s term as Police Commissioner.  

“We did investigate that," she said. "As you know, locally, we do not do the testing, we hire the organization to do the testing. And she did come in with her mother and father, and we did meet, and we did look into the matter. It was unfortunate, because, I myself, wanted to see a female to be hired, to be a police officer.  But I wanted you (the Council) that great care was given, and even afterwards, I paid close attention to what she was doing.”

Councilwoman Josephine Ciocia asked former Mayor Heck if the meeting took place at Police Headquarters. Heck informed her it was not, but was held in the Caucus Room. Ciocia then asked who attended the meeting, and what was discussed, but Heck stated that she “could not tell you (Ciocia) specifically, who attended the meeting. But I know I was there.”  She also stated that she “had no idea” if there was a record of the meeting.

Lillian Romano, Marissa’s mother, then addressed the Council. 

“I would like to address several things. First of all, Mayor DeLorenzo, I would like to thank you personally for taking the time to look at the record that the test results that indeed show that she passed as she said she did.  For the record, yes, former Mayor Heck did meet with my daughter Marissa. I was not permitted in that meeting that was held in Chambers. I accompanied my daughter to that meeting, and was left outside, as a matter of fact, Mike (Kronyak) can attest to that because we bumped into each other as I was standing at the door listening to the meeting. 

'Secondly, the former Mayor, requested that Marissa meet with Chief Colaneri. My daughter was not afforded the professionalism, nor the courtesy of being met at the Police Department. She was told to meet Chief Colaneri at the Bendix Diner. How degrading is that for a young woman to meet at a truck stop, where she was told she had no right to ask a question.  So I ask former Mayor Heck, when she did try to intervene, and try to help Marissa, it was not with the Police Department, but with Hackensack Medical Center, Marissa has a degree in Psychology. I am not to going to accuse anyone of anything, but I think there was a bit of a diversion there away from the Police Department.

"But let me tell you something, and I will say this, right here and now, and I said this two weeks ago, you should be thanking my daughter and my family because if we were a more litigious group of people, we would be having a much different conversation right now.  And so would you Mayor Heck," Romano concluded. 

“I have to clarify,” Heck said, returning to the mic.  “Because I don’t want to have Hackensack have something strange happening. It had nothing to do with the police test, She knew that I was involved with helping children with abuse, and the children’s house, the Aubrey Hepburn’s Children’s House is one of the projects I had as an Assemblywoman, and I very graciously took the time to introduce her to people there who gave her background on what they did, and what they do, and how to approach certain careers. It had nothing to do with the police test or the police department.  I wanted to clarify that. I have no animosity towards the Romano’s and her daughter, I admire her daughter and I took every step that I thought I was legitimately supposed to take having the tests taken by an outside group. I have no knowledge of the Bendix Diner.”

Mayor DeLorenzo stated that the “message is clear, that there was an issue with the test, and the Police Department that has not really been fully resolved. Obviously, what I recognized at the last meeting, when Marissa was up here, and very unselfishly brought it to everyone’s attention so that the next person will have the chance that she felt she did not get.”

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