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DV Pilot police & fire

Bergen police merger plan has long road ahead after freeholders approve it, 5-1

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

Bergen County Freeholder Chairman David Ganz held up a stack of 200 phony $1 million bills that he said represents what the county will save by the board’s official decision yesterday to fold the county police into the county sheriff’s office.

“This money belongs to the taxpayer,” Ganz said, before tossing the funny money into the crowd of attendees in Hackensack.

County Administrator Edward Trawinski, in turn, said it was a fitting metaphor for illusory savings.

Freeholder Maura DeNicola, the lone member of the board to oppose the ordinance in a 5-1 vote, said it will only end up costing taxpayers in the end — for legal fees from court battles over the merger, consolidation or whatever the move is ultimately called.

Trawinski said County Executive Kathleen Donovan will veto the ordinance.

The freeholders intend to override the veto, after which Donovan ( above, left ) has pledged to take her fight to a local judge. Whichever side loses that ruling could be expected to appeal to the state’s Appellate Division. The loser in that case would then go to the state Supreme Court.

In order words: This is going to take awhile.

Trawinski said the vote shouldn’t have been held, in light of a restraining order that Donovan obtained last week that temporarily stopped the freeholders from giving themselves power to reorganize government until a judge could decide in two weeks whether they have that authority.

Freeholder Counsel Edward Florio, in turn, said the county’s legislative branch was “legislating.”

As expected, Ganz was joined by fellow Democrats Joan Voss and Tracy Zur ( above, bottom ), as well as Republicans John Felice and John Mitchell. Democrat Freeholder Steve Tanelli couldn’t make it but sent a letter of support for the majority.

Members of the union for Bergen County police officers opposed the move, saying it was political.

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino ( above, middle ) has backed the measure, saying it will eliminate duplication and make the county-run end of policing Bergen more efficient and effective.

Amid the ongoing battle, the Bergen County Police Department and Donovan had a video produced extolling the benefits of the department.

In the video, Donovan says Bergen County police are “better than anybody else.”

The nearly 5-minute video — produced by a Washington, D.C.-based company called “Web’s Edge,” in conjunction with the International Association of  Chiefs of Police — features clips of the county police department’s various units in action. It also has interviews with County Police Chief Brian Higgins and new Bergen Community College President Kaye Walter, among others.

The Bergen County Police Department provides “one-stop shopping” of services for local police departments, Higgins ( above, right ) says in the video. That includes a bomb squad, SWAT team, K9 unit, water recovery squad and other teams.

To view the video, click the link BCPD video . Then use the password: websedge .

BACKGROUND:

The complete Bergen County police consolidation plan — with highlights

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A long-awaited police consolidation plan unveiled today by the four Democratic majority members of the Bergen County freeholder board promises to save anywhere from $90.6 million to $200.4 million over 25 years by putting the county police department under the control of the county sheriff. READ MORE….

Bergen chief seeks support against police consolidation plan, local chiefs have questions

EXCLUSIVE: On the eve of the introduction of an ordinance that would fold the entire Bergen County Police Department into the sheriff’s office, Chief Brian Higgins made a direct bid to the county police chiefs’ association to fight the proposal. The chiefs, in turn, say they have several questions. READ MORE….

Bergen Democrats: Donovan rejects 9-month police consolidation plan in 9 seconds

BERGEN DEMOCRAT FREEHOLDERS WRITE: There’s an old legal aphorism that goes, if you have the facts on your side, you pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, you pound the law. If you have neither on your side, you pound the table. READ MORE….

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