East Orange police division promotion ceremony ushers in historic moment

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EAST ORANGE, NJ — A historic promotion ceremony took place on Aug. 26 at East Orange Hall Plaza as Mayor Ted Green, the City Council, Public Safety Director Dominick Saldida and Police Chief Phyllis Bindi were in attendance to usher in the promotion of three lieutenants of the East Orange Police Division to the rank of captain.

According to a media release, Raymond Garcia made history Aug. 26 as the first Hispanic officer to achieve the rank of captain in the East Orange Police Division in the city’s history, while Carla Lassiter and Ericka Horsley both add to the growing diversity of the police division as the third and fourth black female captains. Retired Capt. Gloria Oliver and Inspector Sharon Wells were the first and second black female captains.

According to the media release, Garcia was hired as an East Orange police officer on Jan. 7, 2002. Now captain, Garcia has commanded several units throughout his career and is currently in command of the Violent Crimes Task Force.

Garcia spoke about how hard he has worked to get where he is today.

“I would say that it has been challenging because of the sacrifices my family has endured and the academic preparation,” Garcia told the Record-Transcript on Aug. 31. “However, preparing for the captain’s responsibilities has been enjoyable. I have been part of a generation of officers that has helped transform the city of East Orange from being known as one of the 15 most violent cities in the state to not being on the list.

“Whenever history is made, it is important for all of those involved,” he said. “It feels great that this great city is including people from different backgrounds to have such an important role in the city’s police department, especially during this difficult time of division, social and racial injustice, and at a time that the trust gap between law enforcement and minorities has widened.”

According to the media release, the East Orange Police Department has been nationally recognized and cited among urban public safety departments as mirroring the community it serves. In 2017, Bindi was named as the city’s first female chief, furthering the division’s progress. Currently, nearly 85 percent of officers within the police division are minorities, and approximately 25 percent are women.

According to the media release, Lassiter joined the East Orange Police Department on Aug. 4, 1999. Her extensive experience in law enforcement led her to command several units throughout her career, including Internal Affairs. She currently serves as a member of the Criminal Investigation Bureau.

Lassiter also spoke about how hard she’s worked to get where she is today.

“Let’s start with basic training,” Lassiter said on Aug. 31. “The initial ‘test’ is graduating from a grueling five and a half months of intense physical and mental exertion. So, the hard work begins immediately. It doesn’t stop there, because every supervisory level requires a written and/or oral test; in my experience, the higher you go, the more intense the testing process. There is so much time that you have to dedicate to studying in addition to working and balancing your family life. With two small children, attaining the title of captain was very challenging for me. What separates you from the others is finding the time to do it all and do it well. By the grace of God and support from family and friends, I did it.

“I am extremely proud to be a part of history for the East Orange Police Department,” Lassiter said. “Knowing that I am following in the footsteps of great women before me who paved the way for me to be able to hold this position is not only humbling but now I am inspiring other women who aspire to achieve higher levels of leadership in law enforcement.”

Horsley was hired as an East Orange police officer on Jan, 9, 1995. She was promoted to sergeant in 2008, followed by lieutenant in 2016. Throughout her career, Horsley has held various roles within the division but has been a patrol commander for the majority of her career.

The mayor said the promotions of Horsley, Lassiter and Garcia show East Orange’s commitment to representing its diversity.

“In a time when relations between police and many minority communities are under extreme scrutiny and pressure, I am extremely proud to lead a city where representation matters and diversity is reflected within our public safety department and among the highest ranks of law enforcement,” Green said.

Photos Courtesy of Connie Jackson