PATERSON, NJ- Less than 24 hours before the City of Paterson swore in 28 new police recruits to bring the ranks of the Paterson Police Department to over 400, TAPinto Paterson sat down with Acting Police Chief Troy Oswald at the Frank X. Graves, Jr. Public Safety Complex to discuss his vision for a safer Paterson.
Oswald, who has served with the Paterson Police Department for 25 years is in his second stint as Acting Police Chief, following four months in the position in 2017 under a plan that saw the job rotate among three of the Department’s Deputy Chiefs. Just 18 days into the job on the day of the conversation, Oswald said he has already taken to “improve policing for the community.”
His strategy of change, according to Oswald, lies in empowering his captains to “pick the problems they want to tackle, and pick the solutions,” to solve them. Giving them this freedom, however, doesn’t mean that he won’t be watching. His plan, Oswald said, includes conducting evaluations of every specialized unit, including Narcotics, Special Crimes, Major Crimes, and Community Policing every four months to make sure that they are still performing “effectively and efficiently.” In short, while giving captains more freedom and flexibility, he is also going to be “holding them accountable” to achieve results.
A 12-year college professor who has done “a lot of teaching,” Oswald is a proponent of education for the men and women of the Paterson Police Department, and plans on encouraging them to continue to find opportunities to learn. Not only does this raise moral, Oswald said, it also reduces liability for the city, and means “better trained” officers in the streets.
Furthermore, by empowering his officers, and allowing them the flexibility to take opportunities for education, Oswald believes he will have happier and better workers.
Asked about an interaction TAPinto Paterson observed between Oswald and several members of the Paterson Youth Council that led to smiles and laughs all around at their annual Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast on Monday, he said simply, “that is who I am.”
“If you can communicate you can put people at ease,” and that, Oswald offered, is a key part of effective policing.
As for the recruits that will spend the next 22 weeks learning the ins and outs of the job, Oswald plans on using at least some of them to create walking posts in spots throughout Paterson’s downtown.
The walking patrols, which he called the “gem of his plan,” will, by tackling issues such as panhandling and loud music, go a long way in making residents and visitors feel safer, and that, while maybe not usually considered part of the scope of responsibilities for law enforcement, will help drive economic development.
For a man who never expected to enter the “family business,” Oswald has led a storied career, rising to the top of the Paterson Police Department, a position several individuals both inside and outside of Paterson predicted he’ll soon hold permanently.