East Orange welcomes new Public Safety Department director

Photo by Chris Sykes
East Orange Mayor Ted Green, center left, stands with, from left, an unidentified man, newly appointed Public Safety Department Director Dominick Saldida and police Chief Phyllis Bindi on Monday, Dec. 17.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Ted Green’s has concluded his search to replace former Public Safety Department Director Sheila Coley, who resigned abruptly on Tuesday, May 29.

At a press conference in East Orange Police Division Headquarters on South Munn Avenue on Monday, Dec, 17, Green announced the appointment of former Newark Police Department Deputy Chief Dominick Saldida to serve as new director of the East Orange Public Safety Department. He said Saldida’s appointment is the culmination of an interview process begun immediately after Coley’s unexpected resignation that involved as many as 15 candidates, which he narrowed down to three before selecting Saldida.

Green said he based his decision to hire Saldida on the recommendation of his PSD Director Search Team, consisting of Tracy Bowers, Ronald Salahuddin, William Oliver and Lt. David Whatley of the NPD, all of whom previously served on his Transition Team Public Safety Committee, after he won the city’s 2017 mayoral election.

“Public safety has always been my top priority and I am excited to bring on a strong and committed leader, who can provide a fresh perspective on lowering crime and better enhancing the quality of life for our residents,” said Green on Monday, Dec. 17. “Mr. Saldida officially completes my new administrative team and we are ready to make significant progress, moving into 2019. He has over 30 years of public safety experience, rising through the ranks of the Newark Police Department to become deputy chief by the time he retired from that department. Most recently, he served as the Public Safety director in Dover Township. Today, I am extremely proud to welcome Dominick Saldida to the East Orange family.”

Saldida said he’s very happy to be in the new role.

“This is a very, very exciting time in my life,” said Saldida on Monday, Dec. 17. “The Public Safety Transition Team — the panel that sat there countless hours made a very, very hard decision and was willing to take a chance on me — they gave their knowledge of what they heard and what they saw and what was there in the hard skills of the resume to the great mayor of the city of East Orange, Ted Green, and he made his decision and I thank them.”

Saldida described Bowers as “another great friend and a colleague from many moons ago.” He thanked him and Green’s other members of the Transition Team Public Safety Committee and PSD Director Search Team for shepherding him through the selection process.

“Let me start off by saying, today, mayor, I thank you, from down in my heart. This mayor is energetic, he has a vision and he has passion and, ladies and gentlemen, the reason that I chose to accept that position that the mayor offered me is because I bought into his program. He made me excited. He made me feel like I was part of East Orange, without even being here yet. His vision and the way he wants to attack certain things and make people happy, the vision is my vision,” said Saldida.

Saldida also said he’s ready to hit the ground running as the city’s new PSD director.

“In the next 45 days, I will be conducting an assessment of the entire Police Department, Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management,” he said. “Liaison (Jose) Cordero that’s here, a past police director in the city of East Orange, came back, did a survey, did some work here and has implemented some things already that are working way beyond my imagination. And I’m going to build on that liaison Cordero and I’m going to move forward, with your permission, and work together with you and the chief to make this one of the greatest police departments in the country.”

Saldida also elaborated on some of the details of the PSD departmental assessment he’s going to undertake.

“What’s important in this assessment is to take a look at everything,” he said. “This is not a sprint. This is going to be a long, long haul. This is going to be going cross country and we’re going to do it together, not by myself. I need a team. I need the people in this room to go forward. I need everyone to come together and make this city the best city around.”

That being said, Saldida also went on to state that he believes it is possible to make East Orange into one of the leading cities in the country, in terms of public safety, and the biggest reason for his optimism is because he’s already gotten off to a great start, as everyone has welcomed him with opened arms.

“There’s a lot of things I want to do. There’s a lot of people that I want to thank,” said Saldida. “But most importantly, what I think happened here in the city of East Orange was I was welcomed with open arms already. That’s refreshing. It’s unbelievable, the people that say, ‘Hello,’ welcome you, shake your hand. The most important two are Chief (Phyllis) Bindi from the Police Department and Chief (Andre) Williams from the Fire Department. They’ve made my welcome so, so easy. I’m going to work side by side with them and do everything that’s possible to make the departments flourish in the city of East Orange.”

“To the citizens of this community: I’m diverse, I have integrity, I have a mission and my mission and vision is the same that the mayor of East Orange has,” he continued. “I am going to build on what he has started. We are going to build together and we are going to move forward together. I thank him. I thank everyone. Once again, thank you.”

City Council Chairman and 1st Ward Councilman Chris James was one of the many elected officials, members of law enforcement and invited guests who came to the press conference to welcome Saldida.

“I want to start by thanking the mayor for not the decision of choosing a Public Safety director lightly. He’s taken his time, made a thorough and thoughtful process, and I want to thank him for doing the process and bringing the council to be a part of the process and making sure we work as a team to move the city forward,” said James on Monday, Dec. 17.

“I stand here with council members Quilla Talmadge, Alicia Holman, Chris Awe, Casim Gomez, Mustafa Brent and our Public Safety Committee Chairwoman, Amy Lewis, who’s not here, but a little under the weather. We all stand here as one team, as one council, to move this city forward and welcome Dominick to be a part of the team to lead our men and women of police and fire through the city. We’ve had great chiefs and, going forward, just adding on to moving the city forward and making sure that East Orange is the safest city in the area. Looking around the room, it’s proving your reputation as being a community leader, being part of the community and doing great communications. So welcome aboard.”

On Monday, Dec. 17, Lewis said, “I do not know anything about the new director, other than what is on his resume; however, I am looking forward to working with him in continuing to move our Public Safety Department, both police and fire, forward.”