The swearing-in of new police officers in Jersey City is usually a ceremony performed in front of a City Council chambers packed with family, friends, and fellow officers. But on March 18, 14 new police officers raised their white-gloved hands and took their oath to serve and protect in front of a chamber practically empty.
The new officers stood six feet apart to be sworn in by Mayor Steven Fulop, adhering to social-distancing guidelines during the international Coronavirus pandemic.
“A new normal. No families. No crowd. Nevertheless, join me in congratulating these new JCPD officers that I swore in today,” Fulop tweeted. “Coronavirus cheated them of a ceremony w/families watching, but it doesn’t change how appreciative we are to have these new officers joining the JCPD.”
The officers who joined the ranks are a significant addition to municipal first responders, who have been on full alert since the city declared a State of Emergency earlier this week while positive COVID 19 cases climbed in the state’s second largest municipality.
Over four days, positive cases jumped from three on Sunday, March 15, to 25 on Thursday, March 19. Positive cases are only expected to further climb as results from tests become available.
The new class graduates from the Passaic County Academy training facility. The class is composed of nearly 80 percent minority residents.
New cops reflect the community
Over the last several years the Fulop administration has aimed to have the police and fire departments reflect the population overall in a city recognized as the most diverse community in the United States.
The officers will immediately begin field training and become an asset during the emergency, as social distancing and an array of other health measures are put into effect.
“This is a different time for all of us, particularly for young first responders, whose first assignment is to face professionally responsibilities they’ve taken an oath for during a pandemic,” said Fulop. “We welcome this new group, and I’m certain they will only enhance the fine job our officers have done over the years and will continue to do during this current world crisis that is impacting us all.”
Since the State of Emergency, Jersey City has kept essential city services functioning with skeleton crews and has requested that whenever possible residents and employers work from home.
However, first responders are on full staffing levels, and all municipal offices are open and operating to serve residents by appointment only.
Since 2013, Fulop has increased the police department by at least 22 percent, growing from 765 to nearly 950 officers today, while realizing a reported 70 percent drop in crime over the last two years.