PATERSON, NJ – William Fraher will be named Paterson’s next police chief by the end of June, according to Mayor Jeffery Jones, Business Administrator Charles Thomas and Police Director Glenn Brown. Fraher has been serving as acting chief for the past year after James Wittig retired.
In anticipation of Fraher’s appointment, city officials soon will begin negotiating a contract with him, Thomas said. Officials say Paterson has paid the price for not having contracts with its previous police chiefs, especially because there were no clearly defined limits on how much they would be paid at retirement for leave days. The goal would be to have a contract in place by the time Fraher is appointed, Thomas said.
[Editor's note: This revised version of the story now includes comments from the mayor.]
"If you look at the performance of the department of late, he's demonstrated what I've asked of him,'' Jones said. "Right now, we need continuity in leadership.''
Thomas and Brown said they were not sure when the city would conduct a civil service test for the chief’s job. But, they said, Fraher is likely the only one who would take the test. Paterson has only one other deputy chief, Danny Nichols, but he’s has indicated that he’s not interested in becoming chief, according to city officials. A third deputy chief, Robert Drace, retired last summer, a move his supporters say resulted from the city’s delays in conducting a test for the chief’s job.
Councilman William McKoy, the chairman of the public safety committee, has suggested the city get a civil service waiver from the state to allow police captains to take the test for the chief’s job in an effort to make the selection process more competitive. But Brown said he sees no reason to open the test to the captains and he said he’s not sure the state would grant such a test. Brown said he was confident Fraher would make a good chief: “He knows the department inside out.’’
But McKoy said he was not satisfied with the way the police department has operated under Fraher during the past year. “What we have now is not working,’’ said the councilman. “There’s clearly a lack of leadership in the department.’’
In particular, McKoy criticized the fact that Fraher on most Fridays works all day in New York teaching at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. McKoy said Fraher was treating the chief’s position as if it were “part-time.’’
“That’s unacceptable,’’ said the councilman. “Clearly, you’ve got to be chief 24-seven. We can’t allow for you to be going off to another job every Friday. That practice should have been stopped a long time ago.’’
Brown and Mayor Jeffrey Jones previously have said Fraher was using his leave days when he teachers. But city payroll records for several months from 2012 showed Fraher simply had rearranged his schedule, making Fridays one of his two regular off days and scheduling himself to work on Saturdays.
Fraher, who has been teaching at John Jay since 2001, did not return a phone message seeking his input for this story.
“I know Councilman McKoy has a problem with it, but I don’t see a problem with it,’’ Brown said of Fraher’s teaching schedule. The director said he saw no reason to ask Fraher to give up the teaching job. John Jay paid Fraher more than $70 per hour last year for a schedule that included enough hours for him to ring up more than $9,000 in one semester.
“I think it’s a testament to the department that we have a chief instructing at the college that provides training for thousands of police professionals,’’ Brown said.
City Council President Anthony Davis, who supports Fraher's appointment, has said he has no problem with the chief working in Manhattan on Fridays.
Brown said that Nichols is charge of the department when Fraher is in New York. Moreover, he said, Fraher would take off from John Jay if there were an emergency in Paterson.
Brown also disagreed with McKoy’s assessment of Fraher’s work as acting chief. Brown said Fraher increased the amount of training provided to officers and is making other changes to help the department gain “national certification.’’