Amidst a storm of controversy, Lt. Jeffrey Storms was sworn in as the township's fourth captain. The promotion ceremony took place at Town Hall Tuesday night.
Mayor James Barberio praised Storms' efforts during the crisis of Hurricane Irene last summer, and said it was necessary for public safety and preparedness to have senior-level police management to oversee the town's Office of Emergency Management.
"As the mayor, my priority is public safety," he explained.
Council members Michael dePierro, Paul Carifi Jr. and James Vigilante have criticized the mayor's move, saying there is a greater need for more patrol officers than for additional higher-ranking officers.
DePierro told Patch during a recess that despite the swearing-in he would go ahead and introduce .
The councilman made the proposal at the July 10 council meeting. He agreed to table his motion and to meet again with the mayor and DeZenzo to discuss the matter.
Mayor Barberio said a meeting did take place Monday between himself, DeZenzo and Councilmen dePierro and Vincent Ferrara.
"We agreed to go ahead with the promotion and eliminate a lieutenant" from the PPD table of organization, he said. "Two hours later, Councilman dePierro reneged on the decision."
Barberio said he decided then to move ahead with his plan to make Storms a captain.
DePierro confirmed the mayor's recounting of what transpired.
"We met, and when I got home, I just wasn't comfortable with adding another captain," he said. "So I called the mayor and told him, and then called the chief as a courtesy, given that they took the time to meet with me."
The mayor went ahead because, he said, "I did what was best for the community."
Prior to the swearing-in, two council members, Paul Carifi Jr. and James Vigilante, accused the mayor of breaking his word by going ahead with the promotion.
"It goes to show again the mayor's total disregard for the best interest of the taxpayers of Parsippany," said Councilman Paul Carifi Jr. "At last week's meeting the mayor stated that he would not make any promotions until the council as a whole could discuss it at this week's meeting.
"I would have to say he lied to us."
Councilman Vigilante said he also is not pleased with the decision.
"I am shocked," he told Patch before the promotion ceremony. "There seems to be a pattern of disbelief and deception from the administration. Hopefully on behalf of the taxpayers, the legislative body can change that behavior and restore faith and integrity in the eyes of the taxpayer."
Earlier this year, the state Civil Service Commission refused to allow Storms' promotion to go through because his eligibility had expired. The mayor appealed the matter behind the scenes and last week told Patch that Storms' eligibility was reinstated.
The mayor insisted Jeffrey Storms is the man for the job and had the skills needed to manage OEM.
The new captain said he wasn't interested in the controversy.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the department and the community," Storms said.