North Bergen has hired seven new police officers, making the current force the largest in the township’s history.
Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Police Chief Peter Fasilis, and Public Safety Commissioner Allen Pascual presided over an oath-of-office ceremony in the Recreation Center on Oct. 23, officially hiring the seven new full-time officers to the NBPD.
The new officers are Paul Alvaredo, Anthony C. DeOrio, Michael A. Derin, Nicholas Garcia, John P. Nunez, and Al-Abed Taha. Three were already serving as part-time special officers. The other four will attend a rigorous police training academy in the coming weeks.
This brings the total number of police officers to about 140, the highest number in NBPD history. Both Mayor Sacco and Chief Fasilis stressed that the safety of the community is paramount in maintaining a high quality of life.
Reflecting the township
The township’s policy of hiring only local residents has led to a force that reflects the ethnicity of the town. According to the NBPD, four of the new officers are Latino, two are Caucasian, and one is Arabic-Caucasian.
“Our police department is part of the community, and the community is part of our department,” Fasilis said, pointing out that police officers who grew up in the township are more invested in it, understand it better, and are more motivated and engaged. “It just doesn’t work any other way.”
According to federal data, since 2007, many departments are becoming more white compared to their communities. North Bergen topped the list of local police departments that bucked the trend and became more diverse.
Sacco has touted the data, analyzed by the NYTimes, showing that the North Bergen Police Department became more diverse and less white in comparison to the community from 2007 to 2016.
“One of the ways we have acted to improve police-community relations is by making the North Bergen Police Department more diverse by exclusively hiring North Bergen residents for new positions,” Sacco said. “Hiring local residents means that our officers have a deeper connection to our community and stronger relationships with residents, and we will continue to invest in our NBPD by providing opportunities for local residents to become a part of it.”
The township promoted seven officers in September, announcing intentions to hire more officers in the future.
Also attending the ceremony were Commissioner Julio Marenco, County Commisioner Anthony Vainieri, Township Administrator Christopher Pianese, EMS Chief David Prina, NHRFR Executive Director Michael DeOrio, Township Attorney Thomas Kobin, and many other township officials, along with police and family members. Everyone in attendance wore masks and observed social distancing.
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