‘Police Wa$te’: Deputy Chiefs back to provisional, OT up 74% under Chief Michael Kelly
Overtime costs went from $8.4 million to $14.6 million, and the number of deputy chiefs grew to 19 (which is now in limbo), during Police Chief Michael Kelly’s first year running the JCPD.
Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly recently held a press conference celebrating a multi-agency investigation into a shoplifting operation worth about $7.5 million. However newsworthy that might’ve been, it’s time for Kelly to hold another press conference – explaining the approximately $6.5 million in overtime and promotions during his first year leading the Jersey City Police Department (JCPD).
While the Jersey Journal and other news media outlets celebrated the promotion of 17 deputy chiefs as “progressive” because one woman, Patricia Cassidy, was among the class, it was generally seen as a disgrace to JCPD veterans and retirees for there to be 19 deputy chiefs in total.
On May 1, 2019, those who criticized the promotions were vindicated when the Civil Service Commission (CSC) notified Human Resources Director Mark Bunbury that the appointments made on the certification for deputy chief would be vacated.
Specifically, the CSC demands that Jersey City provide “proof of adoption of an ordinance establishing the creation of additional positions for the title certified,” and cites Reuter v. Fort Lee which “requires that any new positions in a municipal police department must be created by a valid ordinance prior to making any appointments to fill those positions.”
In addition to the hundreds of thousands spent on the deputy chief promotions, according to numbers provided via an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, overtime costs skyrocketed by 74% from 2017 to 2018 – going from $8.4 million to $14.6 million during Kelly’s first year leading the department.
Overtime costs for 2015 and 2016 were $7.5 million and $8.8 million, respectively. According to sources, since Real Jersey City filed a request for the data, Kelly has begun an audit of overtime and is demanding justifications for all spending.
As for the reversal of promotions, if you’re on Facebook and follow Jersey City politics at all, you may have seen ex-JCPD Chief Robert Cowan ripping the Fulop Administration for not having a Table of Organization (TO) for the department.
Apparently someone at the CSC may have been getting screenshots of one of Cowan’s posts, or complaints from people saying the same thing, because the lack of a TO is why the appointments were vacated.
Asked for comment on this story, Cowan ripped his former boss and stated “Mayor Steve Fulop lied to the public in 2014, when he represented he would have the departments first table of organization approved by the city council.”
“There has never been a need for 17 deputy chiefs, five to seven would be adequate; Fulop created “make believe” positions in order to implement these political appointments, these bogus promotions were a raid on the city coffers as well as an abuse of the already cash strapped New Jersey Police Pension System.”
The former chief added that “all of this was done in order to reward certain Fulop cronies, who quite frankly, were not capable of obtaining high enough placement in the testing process in order to receive a real promotion.”
Regardless of Cowan’s analysis, it’s time for Kelly, as well as Fulop and Director James Shea, to stop hiding why they felt the JCPD needed 19 deputy chiefs, and for the Jersey City Council to hold them accountable.