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Town Says PBA 'Put Money Above Hiring'

The Record

June 01, 2011

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. — A move to hire a new police officer could affect adding more officers in the future. The mayor and council last week approved hiring a police officer for the department, which has seen its numbers dwindle from 29 in 2002 to a low of 19 at one point this year.

Officials originally pegged the hiring of a new officer to a proposed deal with the police union that would restructure the pay scale for those officers.

The move, however, was rejected by the Policemen’s Benevolent Association, and has officials hinting that such a move may limit the borough’s ability to hire more police officers in the future.

Even with the council hiring the additional officer, bringing the total on the force to 20, Police Chief Michael Cioffi said on May 26 that he would feel more comfortable with 27 or 28 cops.

Council President Robert Agresta said that without the memorandum of understanding the PBA “may have jeopardized their ability to get more officers” in the future.

“We can’t just arbitrarily hire eight more [officers]. We’ll have to proceed with what we can afford,” Agresta said. The PBA “put money above hiring the new officer at a rate of the memorandum of understanding.”

The PBA rejected the deal, according to Sgt. Todd Coletta, because the two sides are still negotiating a contract.

The negotiations regarding salaries and benefits for current police officers have been ongoing since 2009. Cioffi has been lobbying the town for months to hire more police officers. “I am asking the council, please give me some officers,” he said. “Guys are getting tired.”

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