NY-NJ Port Authority Cops Announce New Structure
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced a new command structure Tuesday for its police department that it said will improve efficiency and, along with hundreds of new hires over the next 12 months, rein in overtime costs that have risen unchecked in recent years.
One assistant chief will oversee Newark Liberty and Teterboro airports in New Jersey, another will oversee La Guardia and Kennedy airports in New York and another will be in charge of police at the Port Authority's bridges and tunnels, said Joseph Dunne, the authority's recently hired chief security officer. It is hoped they will provide increased monitoring and oversight in areas where commanding officers currently have that responsibility, he said.
"The more supervisors we put out on the street, the less chance that someone will make a mistake, or, if mistakes are made, they can be corrected rather than compounded," said Paul Nunziato, Port Authority police union president.
The reorganization elicited rave reviews from both labor and management. Nunziato called it long overdue but "a great step." Dunne called it "an exciting time" for the department.
In a ceremony in front of hundreds in a hotel ballroom, Dunne announced the promotion of 54 officers within the force and the appointment of 10 officers hired from police departments in the region. Four were promoted to the rank of assistant chief, including the first women to hold that position.
Assistant Chief Gloria Frank of Patchogue, N.Y., was the commanding officer at the World Trade Center site. Assistant Chief Norma Hardy of Neptune, N.J., was honored for courage during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Dunne said impending graduating classes of police cadets will create a net increase of about 300 officers to bring the ranks to about 1,800 or 1,900 by next year at this time, depending on attrition. Nunziato said that will bring the force up to its early 1990s levels.
The combination of more officers and better monitoring will be needed to reduce overtime costs that Port Authority chairman David Samson has called a chronic problem.
In the first quarter of 2013, police logged 239,000 hours of overtime, well above the 182,000 that had been projected. In the second quarter, overtime reached 461,000 hours, more than 130,000 hours over budget.
Some of the new officers will replace about 180 current officers who will serve on stand-alone aircraft rescue and firefighting crews at the area's airports mandated under an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, Dunne said. The FAA fined the Port Authority $3.5 million in April for training lapses in those areas dating to 2010.
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