PBA president praises promotion of 25 new sergeants

IRVINGTON, NJ — Mayor Tony Vauss and Public Safety Director Tracy Bowers promoted 25 new Irvington Police Division sergeants in a ceremony in Council Chambers on Wednesday, May 1.

Vauss said municipal clerk Harold Wiener swore in all the new sergeants. According to the Municipal Clerk’s Office, the members of the Irvington Police Division promoted from police officer to sergeant include: Richard Santiago, Iona McKenzie, Ramiro Rodriguez, Jason Gonzalez, Desmond Clark, Jose Zepeda, Albern Mondelus, Jamal Calloway, Winchester Beaumont, Albern Jean-Simon, Shantay Porter, Rashaan Sampson, Lamar Taylor, Ajah Dobson and Michael Wayloo.

Those promoted from detective to detective sergeant include: Maurice Taylor, Leonard Turley, Mario Clarke, Jamar Neal, David Reyes, Brandis Puyear, Marcus Smith, Ardwin Way, Wilman Diogene and Christopher Burrell.

Bowers said the township made history by promoting the new sergeants. Vauss said the promotions were a win-win and integral to his goal of making Irvington cleaner and safer.

IPD Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Maurice Gattison agreed. The PBA represents the rank-and-file members of the department, whereas the Superior Officers Association represents the officers, including the 25 new sergeants.

“The mayor made history again,” said Gattison on Tuesday, May 7. “The 25 new sergeants will always be PBA members, but they will be in the SOA, which is a charter of the PBA, meaning the president of the SOA now negotiates on their behalf and represents them in departmental issues. The new sergeants will have more responsibility and accountability.”

Gattison said he is happy for the 25 new sergeants and the township, adding that Bowers and Vauss were correct in saying attrition caused by retirement had depleted the IPD’s leadership ranks. He said the promotions represent a step forward in the new sergeants’ law enforcement careers.

But Gattison said becoming sergeants doesn’t mean they’re moving out of the PBA, since there have been many instances in which officers maintain their PBA membership, such as former IPD Chief Michael Chase and former East Orange Police Chief William Robinson.

“The PBA is designed for patrolmen, but the state extends the benefits to the SOA, because they were former members. That’s why the SOA is subordinate to the PBA.”

Gattison said he has firsthand knowledge about the IPD’s high attrition rate, as he will soon be retiring from the department himself. Bowers said the Public Safety Department is planning to put a new class of recruits into the police academy in September, to help replace the officers who have already retired or are on their way out the door.

“In September, we’re putting a new class into the police academy,” said Bowers on Tuesday, May 7. “So the sergeants that we’ve made now will still be working in their respective positions, when it comes to patrol, traffic, investigation, etc. And the added benefit is that they’re also getting trained as supervisors.”

Gattison said that sounds good to him.

“I’m definitely an old head now,” Gattison said. “I have 14 months left ‘til retirement. I’m very excited about the new hires and, yes, they become a PBA member, based on the PBA being the bargaining unit.”

“Fourteen months left and I will have 25 years complete,” he added.

But Bowers said he still has plenty of work for Gattison and other IPD leaders to do before the new recruits go into the academy. He said the veterans’ experience will come in handy for everyone in town.

Meanwhile, Bowers said having 25 new sergeants doing regular police work, despite their new rank, means the township won’t suffer any decrease in policing and public safety while the new recruits are being brought on the job.

“Once these new recruits come out of the academy, they will be totally replaced,” Bowers said. “If you’re a sergeant, you can still do the job of a rank-and-file police officer. This is a win-win for the police division, the community and the whole township.”