Parsippany Councilman Michael dePierro said the needs more rank-and-file officers on the street, not a fourth police captain.
"We do not need more chiefs," dePierro stated at Tuesday night's council agenda meeting. "We need more Indians. Parsippany tax dollars would be better spent on hiring more patrol officers."
To that end, the councilman recommended changing township law to mandate a police force of no more than 113 full-time active-duty members including one chief and one deputy chief, and a maximum of three captains, eight lieutenants, 19 sergeants and 80 patrol officers.
The ordinance allows four captains at present.
"When became chief of police, the organization consisted of four captains and one chief," dePierro explained. "Chief Peckerman begged for a deputy chief. An agreement was reached that if we , that captain spot would remain vacant.
"It appears that some of us have better memories than others."
Mayor James Barberio wants a fourth captain—Lt. Jeffrey T. Storms, who now heads the PPD's Professional Standards Division. With the , the mayor said present Chief Anthony DeZenzo needs Storms as a captain to help manage the organizations that keep Parsippany residents safe in a crisis.
"I stood in water up to my hip during Hurricane Irene last year," Barberio told Patch. "So did Councilman dePierro. Lt. Storms showed he has particular skills that will serve Parsippany well in times of crisis. We weathered that storm because we were ready. And if something like that—or like 9/11—happens again, the chief and I want Parsippany to be even more ready."
The , but the move was halted when it was discovered that his civil service eligibility for a promotion had expired. Barberio told Patch that Storms' eligibility was restored two weeks ago.
"The chief says we need Lt. Storms as a captain to help with OEM, and I trust the chief," the mayor said. "The council has already gone against the chief's advice, and they should be taking his recommendations."
Barberio alluded to the rather than in its now-closed, stand-alone Shop-Rite liquor store. Chief DeZenzo had recommended a host of stipulations to win approval, including mandating that all hard liquor be restricted to one area of the market. The council gave the market the go-ahead but only with stipulations regarding having additional security in place.
"Residents are telling me that liquor is in different sections of the market," said Barberio.
Councilman Paul Carifi Jr. disagreed with the mayor's characterization of the Shop-Rite situation.
"I did my due diligence," Carifi said, noting that he spoke with a police chief who reported that his town's alcohol-selling supermarket has had no additional problems. "And I personally went down to the Shop-Rite and observed all the things they have in place. They had more security than a regular liquor store would. Someone with a fake I.D. is not going to get something by them in that store."
And as of now, Carifi, who works in law enforcement, said he is not inclined to support Chief DeZenzo's request for another captain.
"Councilman dePierro is right," he said. "We need more Indians, not more chiefs. We're down more than 20 patrol officers. We need more men on the street and more detectives."
The : There are 27 in upper management, 56 patrolpersons and eight detectives.
In a recent interview with Patch, DeZenzo conceded that the PPD is understaffed in terms of rank-and-file patrol officers, but insisted, "We are not seeing any crime committed because we are understaffed."
Carifi said that patrol ranks should be increased before adding more management.
"Nothing against Lt. Storms, but we have a deputy chief who is excellent," he said. "Deputy Chief Paul Philipps is more than capable of managing OEM with [Deputy Coordinator] Eric Hubner, who did a great job when he was in charge of [emergency management]."
Alternately, he said Hubner could report to a lieutenant.
Carifi said that when he went door-to-door campaigning for his council street, residents told him that they were concerned that there were not enough beat patrol officers.
"I was elected to think for myself," he said. "If I agree with the mayor and the chief, I'll say so. But if I disagree, I will say that too. And I am definitely not in favor of [having a fourth captain]. Talking with the residents, they'd rather see more police officers on the street than supervisors inside, and so would I."
Carifi also said he was concerned about having to shell out more taxpayer dollars to pay for another captain.
"That money could go to keeping taxes lower or putting more police on the street," he said.
Council President Brian Stanton said that dePierro and Vice President Vincent Ferrara will sit down with DeZenzo next week to discuss the matter further.
"I'm sure that after the chief makes his case, the council will take his recommendation," said Mayor Barberio. "This is not about politics, and I hope no one makes it about politics. This is about public safety."
Councilman Carifi said he certainly wants to hear DeZenzo's ideas, and conceded that the mayor probably will get his way in the end.
"I heard the mayor say that even if we vote to change the ordinance,he'll veto it," he said.
Barberio would not say that outright to Patch, but he did hint at taking action to override the council's decision if it supports dePierro's plan.
"We need that captain, and I will make it happen," the mayor said. "This township will have the best Office of Emergency Management in the county. It's about safety.
"It's what the chief said we need, and I trust the chief."
Do you agree with the mayor? With Councilmen dePierro and Carifi? .