AS FIRST REPORTED IN CLIFFVIEW PILOT: Republican Sen. Gerry Cardinale today submitted a proposed bill in Trenton that would abolish the Bergen County Police Department, forcing it to merge operations with the Sheriff’s Office.
Bergen County Police Chief Brian Higgins, NJ State Sen. Gerry Cardinale, Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino
The measure provides that any county police officers hired by the sheriff’s office be paid the same as they were making.
“The sheriff will also assign new officers’ ranks correlating with their salaries, qualifications and duties,” Cardinale’s bill says.
The move comes two days after Democratic State Sen. Paul Sarlo told CLIFFVIEW PILOT he wouldn’t co-sponsor the bill while demanding to know “why the county elected representatives are so absent on this.”
“They have spent close to $1 million in studies on” how to best police the county, Sarlo said.
Cardinale’s proposal was first reported exclusively on CLIFFVIEW PILOT when he announced it at a Demarest council meeting.
“The prediction by the sheriff is at the end of three years we’ll be saving $17 million,” he told
. “Consolidation, when it saves money, must be done.”
CLIFFVIEW PILOT EXCLUSIVE ( May 7, 2012 ) : State Sen. Gerald Cardinale pledged tonight to submit proposed legislation in Trenton that essentially would require the Bergen County P olice Department and Sheriff’s Office to merge, a move that he claimed would save $17 million. READ MORE….
The measure originally was to also include Union county, the only other with a county police department (All counties are required to have sheriff’s offices, ostensibly to operate the jails, transport prisoners and protect courthouses, among other duties). But Union County already is in the process of consolidating, Cardinale said.
Abolishing the county police would enhance public safety, the state senator said.
“When you have a need for two different agencies performing essentially the same service, in many instances they can get in one another’s way,” Cardinale told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “It’s inefficient. You have too much administration.
“We don’t need a chief and a sheriff. We don’t need duplicate administration. We don’t need another floor on the new county courthouse for county police.”
The move comes at a time when local and county officials are battling over how Bergen is policed — particularly the cost of that protection.
“If this is going to save the taxpayers millions of dollars and we are not compromising officers’ safety and public safety, what offical wouldn’t be in favor of it?” Bergen Sheriff Michael Saudino told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Saudino has been at odds with County Police Chief Brian Higgins and County Executive Kathleen Donovan over the county’s various layers of policing. However, the sheriff emphasized that current conflicts should have no bearing on decisions that carry well into the future.
“If this actually does happen, then 10 years from now — when I’m not here and Brian Higgins isn’t here — there would be one agency providing services and everyone will be getting along fine.”
Higgins, in turn, said Saudino’s and Cardinale’s math is off.
“Our budget is less than $17 million,” he told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “The only way to save $17 million is to completely eliminate the county police, including the bomb squad, the SWAT team, the K9 unit, all of the security guards in all of the county builddings and our county schools and in our county parks.
“There’s no way he can save that money by merging the two agencies. It’s just a transfer of power.”
Mu nicipalities and counties themselves are creations of the state — as are county police departments — and can be abolished by lawmakers, Cardinale told CLIFFVIEW PILOT last week.
Sarlo told CLIFFVIEW PILOT he believes it’s best left to county officials, and not state lawmakers, to determine how Bergen is policed.
“County elected officials need to step up to the plate and a make a decision on the future of county law enforcement agencies and their responsibilities,” he said.
Cardinale said other state lawmakers expressed interest in his bill, although he didn’t say who.
EXCLUSIVE: Democratic State Sen. Paul Sarlo told CLIFFVIEW PILOT he won’t co-sponsor a bill with Republican Sen. Gerry Cardinale to to abolish the Bergen County Police Department and merge operations with the Sheriff’s Office — and demanded to know “why the county elected representatives are so absent on this.” READ MORE….
Thursday, 17 May 2012 14:51 Jerry DeMarco
EXCLUSIVE: State Sen. Paul Sarlo told CLIFFVIEW PILOT he planned to review a proposal by state Sen. Gerry Cardinale to abolish the Bergen County Police Department and merge operations with the Sheriff’s Office. However, Sarlo said it’s best left to county officials, and not state lawmakers, to determine how Bergen is policed. READ MORE….
Monday, 07 May 2012 20:31 Jerry DeMarco
CLIFFVIEW PILOT EXCLUSIVE: State Sen. Gerald Cardinale pledged tonight to submit proposed legislation in Trenton that essentially would require the Bergen County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office to merge, a move that he claimed would save $17 million. READ MORE….
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 16:13 Jerry DeMarco
CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: A blue-ribbon panel has rejected a series of recommendations for consolidating the Bergen County Police Department within the sheriff’s office, saying that it would give the elected sheriff too much unchecked power. It instead suggested eliminating or restructuring smaller units in each agency and urged municipalities to join the county emergency dispatch service out of Mahwah. READ MORE….