With the addition of patrol officers Renata Sanches and Anthony Roman to the roster since February, the River Edge Police Department boasts a 20-member compliment and will soon add another as a new rookie is expected to join the force prior to the end of the year.
Now the department's recruitment efforts are expected to carry into the new year as River Edge faces the prospects of seven officers reaching retirement age in 2013. According to Police Chief Thomas Cariddi, at least two officers have indicated they will retire at that point.
"Moving forward in 2013 the department is in the position that over the next year I have seven officers who will reach retirement age," Cariddi said. "One has already begun taking steps towards that and atleast another will do so in the early part of the year."
The 21-member department could see another two officers reach the age for retirement by 2014 and is currently down one officer who is out on extended leave relating to an illness.
"At this point I would like to begin recuiting from the alternate route of candidates who will be available after January," Cariddid said. "It would take six months before they would be eligible to begin working, but to wait would mean losing a tremendous recruiting class."
In January, the Passaic County Police Academy will begin training the newest class of alternate route candidates. The Alternate Route Program allows individuals to attend the academy at their own expense prior to being hired by a law enforcement agency. The traditional route program involves an individual being hired prior to attending to the academy with the borough funding the cost to attend. The Bergen County Police Academy is tentatively scheduled to begin training recruits in January as well.
"If I'm in a position that I know I have openings and can openly recruit, I can interview candidates at the academies once class is in session," Cariddi said. "We have some candidate applications within the department from the last hiring round and I want to exhaust that pool entirely before moving onto the alternate route candidates."
Cariddi stated that the approximately 15 candidate applications could be exhausted quickly as some candidates live farther away from River Edge than preferred.
"I would like to get back to 24 officers but for the past several years we've more often had 22 and then we would lose some and be between one to three officers in the active range of 19," Cariddi said. "I'd rather see us in the position to have 25 on the roster and go back to 22 to 24 officers following the retirements so we can better combat overtime and dedicate manpower to enforcement issues."
In the past the REPD have been staffed at full capacity of 24 officers but over the last few years has been understaffed. Previous retirements of Sergeants Mark Westervelt and Patrol Officer John Dzoba led to the eventual hirings of Sanches and Roman and the promotion of Sgt. Chris Cheevers. Sgt. William Haggis retired over the summer and subsequently Gary Faustiniwas elevated to the rank of sergeant.
A new contract signed with the PBA allows for a lower starting salary and longer period of time to reach top pay. For a new patrol officer the starting salary would be $27,775 but once benefits are added it comes to $44,285 per officer.