PATERSON, NJ - Paterson Police Chief Troy Oswald will retire from the department he has served for more than 25 years under the terms of a lawsuit settlement accepted by the Paterson City Council on Thursday.
Appointed to the top position in February 2018 by then Mayor Jane Williams Warren, Oswald was widely praised for his commitment to being visible in the community as well for developing relationships that extended throughout the city’s diverse neighborhoods and population.
“If you can communicate you can put people at ease,” Oswald previously told TAPinto Paterson in reference to his community outreach and relationship building efforts.
A dispute over salary ultimately led to a falling out with Mayor Andre Sayegh, as well as the filing of the lawsuit. The career law enforcement official also claimed that he was retaliated against for his outspokenness regarding the poor working conditions in the current Paterson Police headquarters. Oswald’s salary was $210,000 per year.
According to city officials Oswald will see his salary increased to $255,000 and receive the additional pay retroactively to January 1, 2018, as well compensation for terminal leave and unused vacation time. Not settling, they said, would have cost the city far more for what they predicted would be at least two more years of litigation. Ultimately, one official said, a key incentive to settling the lawsuit was the fact that "he doesn't want to be here anymore."
After an extensive closed door session, city council members filed back into council chambers voting 5-4 in favor of the settlement. While the vote wasn't unanimous the sentiment that the situation leading to the lawsuit was, as Councilwoman Lilisa Mimms said, "an unfortunate one," was.
While the city's legislative body, 3rd Ward Councilman William McKoy said, had "no responsibility for the situation," it was, he added, up to them to move the city forward. “This is the best course of action.” 6th Ward Councilman Al Abdelaziz offered similar comments offering additionally that "litigation costs a lot of money."
The harshest criticism came from 1st Ward Councilman Mike Jackson who referred to it as "the worst decision being made." It was, he suggested, "childish behavior" that led to the rift between Oswald and the Sayegh Administration. "Personal vendettas are being resolved through litigation," he added later.
Council President Maritza Davila, and Council members Shahin Khalique and Flavio Rivera voted against the settlement while their colleagues Ruby Cotton and Luis Velez both cast votes in support of it.
While Oswald's retirement is contingent upon approval by the New Jersey Police and Firemen's Retirement System Board of Trustees, the settlement stipulates that he must leave the position within 12 months.
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