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Onward and upward in North Bergen

New surveillance partnership announced during police promotion ceremony

Lieutenant John Stahl is sworn in by Mayor Nicholas Sacco.

North Bergen Township recently held a police promotion ceremony in which one officer was promoted to lieutenant, and two to sergeant. Lieutenant John Stahl, and Sergeants Joseph Gorrin and Thomas Yfantis were handed their new badges in the company of family, friends, and off duty officers.

Stahl joined the department in 1995, spending time with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office “on loan.”

“He’s really been doing a lieutenant’s job for the past three months, so this was a long time coming for him,” said Police Chief Robert Dowd.

Sergeant Gorrin is reaching his 24th year with the department after joining in 1996, and has worked in municipal court, as well as the community policing division.

“Joe will be in the patrol division as a sergeant, and will be bringing a wealth of experience over from those years of his career,” Dowd said. “We couldn’t get a better guy than Joe Gorrin. I don’t know a single person who has ever said a bad thing about Joe, and he’s going to make a great supervisor.”

Thomas Yfantis began his career in 2004 at the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, before being transferred to North Bergen in 2007. Yfantis has a history in patrolling, traffic enforcement, and as an evidence and property custodian.

“Tommy is probably the most loyal guy in the department,” Dowd said.

Public Safety Commissioner Allen Pascual spoke at the ceremony.

“Without that opportunity to move forward, the department stagnates.”  Nicholas Sacco

“There’s a reason this township is rated as one of the safest communities in the nation,” Pascual said. “It’s a really proud moment for all of you guys, it’s a proud moment for me, and I’m honored to be in charge of this department as the elected official.”

Before conducting the oath of office and oath of allegiance with the officers, Mayor Nicholas Sacco spoke about the importance of promotions. He said the chance for individual advancement is key to the department’s improvement.

“Without that opportunity to move forward, the department stagnates,” Sacco said. “A lot of places don’t promote, and years ago, we were very slow in doing it. To have a confident police force, people have to see that there’s advancement, and they can use their talents properly. I know all three are outstanding and are going to do a great job in their capacity.”

Safest in Hudson County

“This has been a great year for North Bergen Police,” Dowd said. “We’ve promoted a ton of people in the last couple of months, we’re about to hire eight special officers, we have another four full-time officers coming in a few weeks later. The department is growing to the largest size it’s ever been.”

That departmental growth led to the town’s recognition as one of the safest municipalities in the U.S. A study by home security website Safehome.org concluded that of all municipalities with populations over 50,000, North Bergen is the safest in Hudson County, sixth safest in the state, and 23rd safest in the country.

“There’s a reason this township is rated as one of the safest communities in the nation.” — Allen Pascual

The study took into account FBI statistics for violent crime, property crime, and the resident-officer ratio, with certain factors weighted. Robbery rates are weighted more heavily than vehicle theft rates, for example. Bayonne, Jersey City, West New York, Union City, and Hoboken were also ranked in the top 25 on the list for New Jersey cities.

Crowd-sourced crime alerts

At the promotion ceremony, Dowd also announced that the police department would team up with Neighbors, a free app that is run by security camera company Ring, an Amazon company that creates doorbell cameras.

Ring cameras stream to smartphones, and footage that those cameras capture often makes headlines when trespassing, package theft, and burglary attempts take place. The Neighbors app allows Ring users to broadcast live clips and text updates from their own surveillance systems to a broader network accessible to those who download the app. Users can scroll through a digital map to see incidents as they unfold in their neighborhood. It’s something like a digital neighborhood watch.

“We’re excited to have the North Bergen Police Department join Neighbors to keep their community up to date on local crime and safety information.” — Jamie Siminoff

The partnership between the department and Ring will allow police to pinpoint local crimes as they happen, so that residents will have mapped-out updates on any incidents involving crime or public safety.

This partnership won’t establish a crowd-sourced “big brother” scenario, according to Ring spokespersons.

While the department plans to provide a lot of outgoing information to the app’s users, the app’s law enforcement guidelines state that the only information that can be immediately accessed are posts available to all app users. According to the guidelines, non-shared camera feeds and information on users can be accessed by those outside of the app only through court orders, subpoenas, or search warrants.

“We’re excited to have the North Bergen Police Department join Neighbors to keep their community up to date on local crime and safety information,” Ring founder Jamie Siminoff said. “Over the past few years when neighbors, the Ring team, and law enforcement all work together, we can create safer communities. Neighbors is meant to facilitate real-time communication between these groups, while maintaining neighbor privacy first and foremost.”

The Neighbors app can be downloaded for free at download.ring.com/northbergen, or by texting “northbergenpd” to 555888

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com, or follow us @hudson_reporter. Mike Montemarano can be reached at mikem@hudsonreporter.com.

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