JERSEY CITY – Jersey City Mayor-elect Steven Fulop Tuesday said his administration will conduct a full audit of requested payouts of unused sick days for police officers who are planning to retire.
At least 15 officers, including Police Chief Thomas Comey, have filed to retire by June 1 and, according to Fulop, at least 15 more are expected to file shortly. The mayor-elect said these retirements will cost city taxpayers with a multi-million payout for unused sick and vacation time. Estimated payouts for individual officers range from $108,000 to as much as $550,000, according to Fulop.
In a press release issued May 22, the mayor-elect noted that these mass retirements come at a time when the city has seen two recent homicides and other gun-related crimes, including the shooting death of 12-year-old Gywan Levine Jr. last Friday. The seventh grader was shot and killed while dribbling a basketball with his father, who was also shot but who survived his injuries.
“The fact that Chief Comey and his friends in the police department are putting in for retirement just days after the mayor lost the election demonstrates how the Healy police department is more concerned with their cushy office jobs than protecting the public,” Fulop said in a press statement issued Wednesday. “We have a public safety crisis and yet these officers are putting their own personal financial interests ahead of public safety and certainly ahead of the taxpayers. I am beyond outraged. I am disgusted.”
Fulop said he intends to audit every single dollar requested by the retiring officers.
“Let me be clear to Comey and friends that I intend to scrutinize every penny requested before Jersey City taxpayers shell out any money,” Fulop said. “Some of these officers that are requesting taxpayer payouts are saying that in 30 years of policing, they never took a single sick or leave day, which is just not realistic or believable. I will not allow these officers to rip off the taxpayers. Jersey City’s overburdened families deserve no less.”
Still, the retirements, which were reported earlier this week, should come as little surprise. During his mayoral campaign Fulop was open about his plans to reorganize the Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) and was critical of the current leadership. Since winning election on May 14, Fulop has said that a reorganization of the JCPD is among his top priorities. – E. Assata Wright