Former police director named EO’s new public safety consultant

Photo by Chris Sykes
From left, 1st Ward Councilwoman and City Council Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Amy Lewis, East Orange Mayor Ted Green and newly appointed Public Safety Consultant Jose Cordero stand together on Thursday, July 19, during the press conference where the mayor introduced the city’s former police director as its new top cop, who will be taking over leadership of East Orange’s Police and Fire departments, until a permanent full-time Public Safety director can be appointed.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Ted Green introduced former police Director Jose Cordero as the city’s new public safety consultant at a press conference inside East Orange Police Headquarters on Thursday, July 19.

“I’m very pleased to make this announcement that Joseph Cordero, who is very familiar with our community, has agreed to return to East Orange to serve as a liaison to the mayor for public safety,” said Green. “As many of us know, Joe Cordero is not a stranger to the city of East Orange. He’s been a part of all that we have done, when it comes to public safety, and many of the things that you have seen over the last 15 years, he has orchestrated.”

Green said it’s good to have Cordero back on the East Orange Public Safety Department team, which has seen recent reductions in overall crime and in certain specific areas, yet still has a long way to go to recapture the public confidence that surged to all-time highs in his heyday as former Mayor Robert Bowser’s police director. During that time, the city and its police department achieved recognition for historic reductions in crime through the innovative use of technology to aid data-driven policing, leading to an increase in overall public safety and community confidence.

Green said Cordero would take over leadership of the Public Safety Department and the corresponding East Orange’s Police and Fire departments, in conjunction with police Chief Phyllis Bindi and fire Chief Andre Williams, until a permanent, full-time public safety director can be appointed at a later date. He said the search is still on to find a replacement for former Director Sheilah Coley, whose May resignation became effective Friday, June 8.

“With Joe Cordero coming back to the city of East Orange, it only adds to what we have been doing in the last four years,” said Green. “On Cordero’s watch, we saw a number of record-breaking reductions in murders, rapes, robberies and other violent crimes. Since Joe left, we have been fortunate to see his legacy continue. To date, we have an 18-percent drop in overall crime, 31-percent drop in violent crime and 41-percent drop in homicides to date.”

Green also said Cordero’s return to East Orange is timely since it’s happening as the EOPD is set to begin a whole new chapter in the city’s storied history of public safety service and dedication. He said he hopes Cordero will help restore the EOPD’s morale, after recent revelations about multiple lawsuits being filed against the city and the department by current and former officers, as well as the recent loss of more than 30 veteran officers who left to take jobs in neighboring police departments.

“We just graduated 22 police officers and we have 19 more in the academy as we speak,” said Green. “As my liaison here in the city of East Orange, Joe will elevate and assist and what he will be doing is taking the measure of public safety, including our fire department, and reporting back to me. I am very confident that Joe Cordero’s background and proven track record of success and commitment to the people of East Orange will help us deliver the high quality of service that our residents expect, need, and deserve.”

Green said there are many benefits to bringing Cordero back to lead the EOPD’s return to historic crime-fighting form, including his outstanding reputation and good standing in national and international law enforcement circles. In 2007 and 2008, Cordero and the EOPD hosted a group of counterparts from England who came to learn how the department was combining technology with traditional policing methods, and take information back to their home country.

“This gentlemen not only comes with the experience of a police officer, but he’s traveled throughout New Jersey, taking his expertise to other municipalities and sharing it with their law enforcement personnel,” Green said. “You have seen that, wherever he went to work, crime has gone down and he has brought his experience, vision and know-how to those police departments. I look forward to working with Joe and we welcome him back to East Orange.”

Green wasn’t the only local elected official on hand at the press conference. First Ward Councilman and City Council Chairman Chris James and his 1st Ward partner, Councilwoman Amy Lewis, also said they were glad to have a new sheriff in town, one who happens to be the old sheriff, too.

Lewis is the chairwoman of East Orange City Council’s Public Safety Committee, serving as its liaison to the Public Safety Department, so she’ll be working closely with Cordero.

“This department no doubt has been through some transitional phases,” said Lewis on Thursday, July 19. “Hopefully and prayerfully, we’re going to move forward, adapting to those transitional changes and get to the business of keeping our city safe. So I’m looking forward to working with you and that happening as well.”

James echoed Lewis’ sentiments.

“I just want to welcome Mr. Cordero back to the city of East Orange,” said James on Thursday, July 19. “I’m looking forward to working with you. The council is looking forward to working with you. Thank you.”

Cordero said he is glad to be back in East Orange and ready to get to work in the department where he has achieved some success in the past.

“I’d like to thank the mayor, elected officials, for bringing me back,” said Cordero on Thursday, July 19. “I’m terrifically excited to be back. I’ve always had a special bond with East Orange, with its people, and with its police department and, in my view, one of the best police departments that I’ve ever, ever worked with. So you’ve done a great deal since we last talked, a number of years back. A lot of progress has been made in this city. Crime continues to decline, so you must be doing something right.”

But Cordero said he didn’t come back to East Orange to rest on his past laurels. He said he came back to help Green with his vision of “one city, one community with one goal — and that’s progress.”

“But now, the challenge is: How do we ensure that progress continues? How do you ensure that the people of the community, the residents of East Orange, are feeling as safe as those statistics tell them that they are?” Cordero asked. “So I think it’s time once again to really get together working with Chief Bindi and the administration to get together and refocus on a people’s perspective. What do the folks feel are important? What are the priorities? What are the things that you’re doing very well? What are the things that you’re perhaps falling a little short?

“And where you’re falling a little short are the things that we need to focus on so that, when you talk about public safety, when you talk about crime declining, people understand and feel that sense of safety and security for themselves and their families. So we’re going to work very closely.

“We’re going to look at what we’re doing very well and do more of it. We’re going to look at those opportunities to do even better. We’re going to seize those opportunities and, at the end of the day, I think what really matters to us is the feedback that we get from … constituents about how much safer do they feel. So I’m really looking forward to working with the men and women of this department once again. I’m very proud of the work that you’ve done and I think, collectively, we’re going to be proud, as we move forward, accomplishing greater heights.”