In a letter submitted to HCTV, Secaucus Police Chief explains the reason for his retirement.
For the past 6 months, I have overseen the day to day operations of the Secaucus Police Department by serving as “Acting” Police Chief. During that time we had begun actively pursuing the accreditation process which involves updating our policies and procedures. Once the process is completed, the Town will see a reduction in insurance premiums and higher professional standards will be in place. In addition to accreditation, our officers are now being provided with more training. The Detective Division is conducting proactive investigations, while a staffed Traffic Division is now available to handle traffic safety related issues. Administratively, I had initiated an analysis of our budget as well as overtime expenses in an attempt to cut future costs. A more analytical approach to reviewing crime data was being introduced along with more in-depth statistical reporting. A community relations program was implemented to maintain a strong bond with our citizens. It seems that everyone was satisfied with the progression of the Police Department and my job performance.
In July, I had begun seeking a labor contract. I have been without one since I was promoted to Deputy Police Chief in October 2012. As I approach the completion of 27 years of serving my fellow residents, I was ultimately seeking the official title of Chief of Police. I had offered to defer any salary increase for the remainder of 2014 if given the title. During that time, I constantly heard rumors that a permanent Police Chief was not going to be made because a Public Safety Director was going to be hired. As of the last Council Meeting on November 25th, I still did not have a contract. On December 1, 2014 I had filed for retirement, which will become effective on February 1, 2015. I was more than willing to stay if I was named Chief of Police.
On December 3rd, I met with the Police Committee (Councilman/Police Liaison Gary Jeffas, Councilman James Clancy, and Councilman Wiliam McKeever) and Town Administrator David Drumeler at their request. I was advised, the Mayor and Council were willing to go ahead with pursuing a contract, but were not ready to make a permanent Police Chief. When asked why, I was ultimately told by Councilman Jeffas that I needed to improve my relationship with the Mayor (Michael Gonnelli).
During the past six months, I have interacted with Police Liaison Jeffas and the Police Committee on a regular basis, in an effort to keep them informed regarding Police Department business. Everyone was always satisfied with my job performance which was reiterated in our last meeting on December 3rd. This was the first time I ever heard of any relationship issue with the Mayor. Whenever the Mayor needs something from the police department, we handle it. This can range from dealing with a traffic related complaint from a citizen, to providing staffing for a Town event. There have been a few occasions where I couldn’t release specific information to the Mayor regarding active investigations, but didn’t see that as a problem.
However, based on the Councilman’s “relationship” comment, it is now clearly evident I am being punished and denied the Chief of Police title due to personnel assignments I made that the Mayor disagreed with. The Police Committee and Town Administrator know the whole story. I would have preferred to stay another 3 to 5 years with the department, but can’t continue working in this environment. I have nothing to hide and am retiring with my integrity. At least I know I have pointed the department in the right direction.