A power struggle between Union City Mayor and Director of Public Safety Brian Stack and Chief of Police Norman Bareis took place behind closed doors last week after Stack initiated a policy concerning the assignment of detectives.
The new policy will state that no officer will be assigned to detective duties without first having served five years in patrol, leaving an exception for officers assigned to narcotics working as undercover officers.
"I felt that it was the fair thing to do," said Union City Mayor and Public Safety Director Brian Stack. "It is not fair to the officers that have been patrolling the streets and driving the cars for 10 years to see someone right out of the police academy or after their rookie year being made detectives. It sends the wrong message to other officers."
Considering that an officer needs to have three years of on-the-job experience before he can take a promotional exam, Stack did not think that this new policy was out of line.
Detective is not considered an actual promotion, but being assigned to the detective bureau results in a $500 a year pay increase.
The battle begins
The battle began after Stack delivered a letter to Bareis on August 8, instructing him to draft a policy on the assignment of detectives.
However, before drafting a policy, Bareis consulted general counsel from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police saying that by setting this policy, Stack is interfering in the chief's right to run the day-to-day operations of the police department as awarded to him in N.J.S.A. 40A: 14-118.
However, after seeking counsel himself, Stack won the argument.
"He had no grounds to fight me," said Stack.
N.J.S.A. 40A: 14-118 also states that the Director of Public Safety is within his rights to set policy for the police department. However, the chief is responsible for carrying out those policies and any assignments made.
But according to Stack, Bareis still refuses to draft a policy, therefore, Stack will write the policy himself, which will include a grandfather clause for those officers already made detectives who do not have the five years experience needed in this new policy.
Bareis would not respond to messages left for him last week. Daniel Gibney, the president of the Hudson County Chapter of the New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police, rendered no comment.
In the 10 months that Stack has been in office, he has put forth many policies in the police department including having two-man patrol cars rather than one-man, placing more men in uniform on the street and revamping the community policing unit.
Stack has increased the amount of manpower seen on the city's streets in both the patrol units and the community policing units in his efforts to up the quality of life in the city.
Stack also plans to create a burglary unit to address the increase in burglaries that the city has seen recently.
"[Bareis] should be focusing his attention on the increase of burglaries we have had in the city," said Stack. "Instead he is playing politics. This clearly shows that we have a chief with his own agenda."