NEWARK, NJ--Twenty-seven Newark police officers listed as members of the City of Newark's Executive Protection Unit have racked up more than $1 million dollars in overtime between January 1, 2017 and August 25, 2017, according to documents obtained through an Open Public Records Act request.
Records show the 27-member security unit includes 24 police officers, one police captain, one police lieutenant and one police sergeant, all earning a base salary as City of Newark police officers of approximately $100,000 and earning overtime payments totaling $1,121,557. 20.
Overtime payments for each individual officer ranged between $15,000 and $108,000 during the time period.
Members of the security unit provide 24-hour security each day for the mayor. The security unit accompanies the mayor when he travels locally and abroad—including on international trips.
As a councilman representing the city's South Ward, Baraka repeatedly criticized then Mayor Cory Booker for employing a security detail made up of 16 members—11 fewer than Baraka has now.
At a 2013 community meeting, then Councilman Baraka said there were concerns regarding sufficient police patrols in the South Ward.
“We're all concerned about the level of shooting,” Baraka said at the time. “I know folks are concerned about people loitering in front of the stores. There's a concern about the number of police in the area.”
Newark Police Captain and Public Information Officer Derek Glenn said the primary responsibility of the Executive Protective Unit is to provide security for the "mayor and his designees."
"This includes accompanying the mayor and providing security at his residence," Glenn said. "In many instances this involved the security detail intervening to address activities that required police intervention during their travels. These services are made available to the Mayor as they were with his predecessors. Members of the Executive Protection Unit are responsible for investigating all threats made against the Mayor or persons in his immediate office."
Glenn said the unit has investigated more than 14 threats of death or physical harm directed towards the mayor and immediate staff members.
The unit also provides security to the administrative offices of council members and security at council meetings and coordinates with the security of visiting dignitaries, executives and celebrities, according to Glenn.
"For security reasons we aren’t at liberty to provide specific information about staffing or those assigned to the unit, although we consider this number necessary and adequate in fulfilling their roles of conducting investigations and providing security for the mayor," he said. "The unit’s staffing levels are comparable to that of previous administrations."
According to the FBI’s 2016 Crime in the United States report, there were 100 murders, 99 rapes and 1,334 robberies in the City of Newark last year alone. In addition, there were 1,104 aggravated assaults, 1,138 burglaries and 2,122 car thefts.
Newark has the fifth highest crime rate in the state and was listed amongst the 50 worst places to live in the U.S., according to a 24/7 Wall Street ranking, with the city getting low marks for its high cost of living, a median income well below the national average and a high crime rate.
The Newark Police Department is the largest municipal law enforcement agency in the state, with a force of 1,035 officers in its ranks as of January 2017.