PATERSON, NJ - In almost unbearable heat Mayor Andre Sayegh was joined by local law enforcement officials at the Paterson Police Department Traffic Garage Monday to announce a new recruitment initiative the Paterson Police Department is implementing to replace retiring officers.
While the immediate focus is on hiring, the initiative is part of a larger goal to rebuild trust between the community and the police force, according to Sayegh.
“I believe policing is one of the most noble professions anyone can pursue,” Sayegh said. “We’ve been working on the trust between the police and the community because we believe at times, yes, the public’s faith in us has been shaken.”
The initiative, known as positive police recruiting, will function to encourage Paterson residents to prepare for and pass the NJDOP police entry exam, one of the requirements to become a Paterson police officer.
“The police really are the community, and the community are the police,” Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said quoting Sir Robert Peel, a 19th century British statesman. “The department is set to embark on a recruitment drive in hopes of mobilizing and energizing city residents to sign up for the New Jersey civil service law enforcement entrance exam.”
Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-9), a strong advocate for public safety in Congress, explained that it is critical that the Paterson Police Department is diverse and reflects the population of the city. The recruitment initiative will ensure this, in addition to maintaining that the police force is not understaffed, he said.
“The idea of recruiting from within is not a new idea,” Pascrell offered. “But the idea of recruiting from within and laying out a plan and not doing it haphazardly is excellent.”
According to Lt. Dalton Price the initiative will also ensure that the Paterson Police Department is held responsible for making sure that the values of the police force are reflective of the values of the community.
“We want the right people on this job, and it is our responsibility to do the recruitment,” Price said. “We can no longer complain about hiring the wrong people -- we have to work to put the right people in place”
Online applications to the police department opened July 1 and will close August 31. Requirements include:
- Must be a US citizen
- Must have a high school or GED diploma
- Must be a Paterson resident
- Open to men and women between the ages of 18-35 years old (some exceptions apply)
- Must be able to successfully pass the NJDOP police entry exam
- Not have a criminal record
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Have good credit
A challenge the department has experienced in previous recruitment efforts is the lack of information available to the community about job openings, according to Monday’s speakers.
“We hope to resolve that issue by highlighting the different means and avenues we’re pursuing to help get the message out that the Paterson Police Department is hiring and are looking to the residents of this great city to join us in our efforts to make a difference,” Speziale added.
In addition to positive police recruiting, Sayegh explained that recently appointed Crisis Intervention Chaplains, faith-based leaders that will help de-escalate volatile situations, and the purchase of body cameras for officers to help give the community the “tools of trust” it needs are also initiatives his Adminstration is pursuing to help make Paterson safer, the Paterson Police Department more community friendly.
“We do believe that Patersonians should be part of the solution,” Sayegh concluded.
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Casey Ferrante is entering her second year at Georgetown and is an intern for TAPinto Paterson.