With right hands on the Bible, the three recited the following words: I do solemnly swear to that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New Jersey; the Government established in the United States and in this State, under the authority of the people; and that I will faithfully, impartially and justly perform the duties of the office of Police Officer of the Town of West New York according to the best of my ability, so help me God.
The three officers are Janette Batista, Maria Rivera and Alexander Nunez. All are West New York residents, as is required by state law.
Deputy Chief Thomas O' Donnell, commander of the uniform and non-uniform divisions, acted as master of ceremonies and opened the proceedings by welcoming and congratulating the new officers. Said O' Donnell, "You are about to join a great police force with a very rich history."
Said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Silverio "Sal" Vega: "It is a great honor to welcome these new police officers. Years ago, when we were elected, we made a pledge to improve public safety. We bring diversity, a police force that looks like the people of West New York."
Unfortunately, the department's "rich history" included a scandal that rocked the department in 1999, when widespread corruption was found and several officers were indicted for kickbacks. But after the election of Mayor Albio Sires' administration, Police Director Joseph M. Pelliccio and his department set forth to radically change the way they conduct themselves.
When Sires came in, there were 100 police officers and 51 supervisors. Now, the department features 123 officers and only 12 sergeants. Also, according to the mayor, overall crime is down 30 percent in West New York since he took office.
The West New York commissioners made a big issue of the recruitment of two women, citing their overall pledge to make the West New York police department closely resemble the community in all its colors.
Said Mayor Albio Sires, "We have been rebuilding our police department for some time and we are proud to welcome our three newest members. Since taking office, we have made a conscious decision to diversify our police force, including recruiting female officers, and today's ceremonies are further proof of the success of our efforts."
West New York Police Department Director Joseph Pelliccio was sure to point out the work that the Sires administration has done for the police department. Said Pelliccio, "I want to thank the mayor and the commissioners for the funds to hire these new appointments, and also for their support. In all my stops in law enforcement, I have never gotten the support that I have here in West New York."
Pelliccio also stressed the tenet of self-discipline to the new officers. Said Pelliccio, "Authority without wisdom is like a row boat with oars. You're going nowhere. If you conduct yourselves with self-discipline, not just on the job but in your daily life, you will bring honor to yourself, to the West New York Police Department, but most of all, the community you'll be working for."
Police officer Janette Batista has distinguished herself by not only being one of four female police officers on the West New York Police Department, but by being the only female to get the "Top Gun" award from the Passaic Police Academy. This award is given to the recruit who, during training, demonstrates the best marksmanship scores.
Batista not only won the award, she won the award by scoring 100s on all of her marksmanship tests. She literally never missed the center of the target. She beat out 60 other recruits in this test, some of whom came from military and previous law enforcement backgrounds.
Prior to her entrance into the police academy, Batista admitted to firing a gun a grand total of "six times or so." In a post-ceremony interview, Batista said of her shooting abilities, "It just felt right. I really love shooting. I practice every weekend down in Hoboken [there is a police pistol range at Madison and 9th Streets in Hoboken]."
Batista also stated that her eventual goal is to join the ERT (Emergency Response Team) in West New York. Her role as a female police officer is, according to Batista, "special." Said Batista, " People look up to that, and maybe aren't afraid to try it themselves."
The other officers seemed just as passionate about their new roles as keepers of the laws of the land. Said officer Maria Rivera, "I am extremely glad to be given the opportunity to become part of this department."
Police officer Alexander Nunez, who, by his own admission, "always wanted to be a cop," was the only male recruit of the three. Said Nunez,, "I feel great. I've been waiting for this for a long time. Two and a half years as a dispatcher and six months in the academy."
Nunez' mother, Milagros Scarpignato, was also on hand to see her son become a police officer. She said, "I am very proud of my son. His dream has finally come true."