"As a public servant, Stevie Fulop has exhibited serious incompetence," Troy said last week. "I say that because he offers nothing as far as solutions go. He has never once in his short tenure as a junior councilman called this office."
In his letter to the public, Troy complained that Fulop's comments "not only undermine the public's confidence in the Police Department, but also negatively affect the morale of the men and women who comprise the Jersey City Police Department."
Fulop had complained about Jersey City's 39 homicides last year, a 20-year record, and a rise in neighborhood violence.
Troy said that Fulop should have called his office if he was concerned, like Ward C Councilman Steve Lipski did recently.
Troy added, "Stevie grandstands, he embarrasses himself in front of the rest of the council."
Troy pointed out a number of accomplishments under his leadership, such the city's gun buy-back program that brought in 900 guns from the public, the success of the Street Crimes Unit, and various crime sweep operations cracking down on sexual predators, deadbeat landlords and training seniors to protect themselves.Troy defends record
Troy is expected to retire sometime this year, but said he will not step down right now. He has been on the force for 25 years as of March 1. He has done 14 years of patrol and has been the commander of the department's Bureau of Criminal Investigations before his appointment as police chief in November 2004.
In his year and a half as chief, Troy targeted the growing menace of gangs and drugs within the city, with the JCPD Street Crimes Unit. The unit made over 3,200 drug-related arrests and approximately 290 gang-related arrests in the past 15 months.
Troy did agree with Fulop that the police chief had to be made accountable for the city's crime problem and there should be accountability on all levels. But Troy shot back at Fulop's lack of accountability in the matter.
"If Stevie applied that same accountability procedure to himself, he would remove himself from the council and do the taxpayers a favor," said Troy. Fulop responds
Fulop responded to Troy's comments last week saying that he has called Troy's office a number of times but has not gotten a response back. He referred to his call for Troy's resignation as a "last resort" in dealing with a dire situation.
He also said that the murder rate wasn't the only reason for his comments.
"I believe he is making excuses," Fulop said. "There is an increase in crime everywhere, not just homicides, but also burglaries, rapes, robberies. When he was sworn as chief, he said, 'You can hold me accountable.' "
Fulop also claimed that his call for Troy's job has had an effect, as a number of plainclothes officers have been returned to walking posts in dangerous parts of the city.
Fulop also wrote a letter to the newspaper about the issue.
"To me," Fulop wrote, "our poor performance not only jeopardizes the safety of our residents, it jeopardizes property value, and it jeopardizes our standing in the region. Now, if we agree that there is an increase in crime, which I think is fairly difficult to dispute, then the question that needs to be addressed is why, and who is accountable?"
He opined: "Sometimes you have to rattle the cage to get results." Troy at community meeting
Blunt and plainspoken, Chief Troy has preferred in most cases to shun the limelight, except when to announce a tragic murder or a job well done by his fellow police officers. But with Fulop's call for him to resign, the Christmas Day deaths of JCPD officers Shawn Carson and Robert Nguyen in an accident in which they drove off a draw bridge, Troy has had to contend with being in the public eye more.
Troy, along with Mayor Jerramiah Healy and a number of police personnel, appeared Thursday at a community meeting organized by Ward F City Councilwoman Viola Richardson where he answered questions and spoke on the state of crime in the city. SIDEBAR DOT criticizes accident investigation; Troy responds
Jersey City Police Chief Robert Troy responded last week to a recent report by the NJ Department of Transportation regarding their investigation of the accident Christmas Day on the Lincoln Highway Bridge that claimed the lives of Police Officers Shawn Carson, 40, and Robert Nguyen, 30.
Carson and Nguyen were traveling back to Jersey City the night of Dec. 25 after delivering flares on the Lincoln Highway Bridge, which connects Jersey City and Kearny. They were not aware that the bridge was up and the warning lights were out, and their Emergency Services Unit vehicle plunged into the Hackensack River.
There have been various theories as to why the accident occurred. It has been said that the police officers on the bridge were distracted by a false report of a civilian robbery, which diverted their attention from halting their vehicle in time. Another theory states that the officers were not informed that the bridge was up.
A 19-page report on the accident was released by the Department of Transportation, along with an eight-page report on the improvements needed for the bridge, on Jan. 27. It raised questions such as how Jersey City police officers who were already on the bridge, Michael Scarpa and Jane Louf, could not have been aware that the bridge was up, and why the two bridge operators on duty that night, Kenneth Cordano and Ali Alexandarane, were tested for drugs and alcohol when Scarpa and Louf were not.
The report also found that Cordano and Alexandarane were not in any way negligent on duty nor responsible for the accident that claimed the lives of two officers.
But the report criticized the JCPD for conducting an investigation that pressed the bridge operators to give answers "they wanted to hear," rather than recounting what actually happened that night, and rushing them to sign off on their statements without allowing them to read them beforehand.
Last week, Troy said the reason officers Scarpa and Louf were not tested for drugs and alcohol was because he and police officials determined that night that they did not need to be tested because they were not the "ones who raised the bridge."
Troy also said that in their assessment of the accident, the DOT was looking to "divert responsibility" and all the facts will come out early this week when the JCPD announces the results of their long-awaited investigation.
"We're going to lay out the truth, no matter where that road takes us," said Troy. "If the road takes us where we need to be critical of ours, then so be it."
Troy took issue with a suggestion in the DOT report that the JCPD investigators, led by Lt. Mike Kelly of the Major Cases Unit, were too harsh on the operators. He commented sarcastically that it "just breaks my heart."
"The investigators are some of the best in [Hudson] county and they just happen to be Jersey City police officers," said Troy. "We're more concerned about getting to the truth than hurting their feelings." - RK Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org