PATERSON, NJ – Less than a day after New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal unveiled a new directive requiring hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the state to reveal the names of cops who have been reprimanded or fired, Mayor Andre Sayegh announced that the Paterson Police Department would publish a list of all current or former officers who in have been fired, demoted, or suspended for more than five days due to a disciplinary violation in the past 20 years.
The list of names, along with a summary of the violation, will be published no later than July 15, 2020.
While New Jersey State Police (NJSP) Superintendent Patrick Callahan announced that NJSP would publish a similar list for all State Troopers, the City of Paterson becomes the first in New Jersey to make a similar commitment.
“I appreciate the Attorney General's redoubtable and remarkable leadership,” Sayegh said. “Last year, I unveiled my tools of trust to improve the relationship between our police department and the public. This initiative will help us reassure Patersonians that we take protecting and serving our city very seriously.”
“I applaud Mayor Sayegh for doing the right thing,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Today’s announcement is a demonstration of real courage, and it shows his commitment to transparency and accountability in policing. If New Jersey is going to be a national leader in policing reform, we must reckon with our past. By identifying officers subject to serious discipline, we deter future misconduct and allow us to begin the process of rebuilding trust with the community.”
For their part, Alex Cruz and Mason Maher, the presidents of PBA Local 1 and the Paterson Police Superior Officers Association (SOA), hope to gain a better understanding of Sayegh’s reason for going back 20 years, when, they believe, the AG’s intent was to provide the information about discipline moving forward.
Expressing disgust over the actions of the Minneapolis police officer who has been charged in the death of George Floyd, Maher and Cruz said that “the job of our union is to protect the good police officers that honor the oath they took.”
Echoing concerns expressed previously by Pat Colligan, president of the New Jersey State PBA, the two shared that publishing violations from a decade, or more, ago, even those as minor as a sick policy violation or motor vehicle accident, can have a deleterious impact on the union’s continued efforts to build positive relationships with the community.
“We don’t want to protect bad police officers,” Cruz said. “But we can’t put good police officers in danger.”
This story has been edited to reflect comments from PBA Local 1.
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