Newark, NJ—Sixteen members of Newark’s Fire and Police Divisions were promoted Wednesday at a ceremony held at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark.

Twelve Newark Fire Division firefighters were promoted to the ranks of Captain and Battalion Chief while four Newark Police Division officers were promoted to the ranks of Captain and Lieutenant.

“This is a very exciting day for the City of Newark as we continue to add new supervisors within the Department of Public Safety,” Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said. “These promotions reflect the ongoing growth and progress within our Fire and Police divisions, two integral areas within the City of Newark that both require the keen oversight of seasoned and effective leaders.”

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Also in attendance were Newark Chief of Police Darnell Henry, Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson, Newark Councilman-at-Large Luis Quintana, North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. and keynote speaker Interim U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose noted the 70 firefighters and 200 police officers added to the roster last year.

“These promotions underscore our plan to broaden leadership within both the Newark Fire and Police Divisions,” Ambrose said. “Additional supervision is required to ensure that our rank and file members receive training and guidance from the best and brightest, as reflected through these promotions. I think today the biggest benefactors are the residents of the city and the people who work and play here.”

Carpenito noted the challenges that firefighters and police officers have faced in recent years.

“You guys are the frontline of defense in this nation,” he said. “You’re not only the first responders, you are the first preventers. In recent years there’s been a lot of pressure and criticism in the media … we want you to know we got your back.”

Baraka cited the need for quality leaders, noting the recent rash of school shootings across the country, guns on the street and a proliferation of fires throughout the city.

“We need good, quality leaders in these positions,” he said. “We’ve brought in new firefighters and police officers and more equipment every year. We take care of our public safety because we want our public safety to take care of us.”

The Newark Department of Public Safety is comprised of the Police and Fire Divisions, the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and the Communications Division and is staffed by more than 1,900 employees, with more than 990 sworn police officers and over 630 sworn firefighters.