Fulop cited, in a letter to Mayor Jerramiah Healy, the 39 homicides in Jersey City in 2005, the highest amount in over 20 years, and a general rise in the city's crime rate.
"While these officers do everything within their power to protect our residents and make our neighborhoods safer, I have come to the conclusion that there is a serious lack of leadership based on the statistical crime rate in comparison with neighboring municipalities," stated Fulop in the letter.
He went on to say, "Therefore, I am formally requesting that you ask for the resignation of Mr. Robert Troy as Jersey City Police Chief immediately."
Fulop reiterated his call for Troy to step down at Wednesday's City Council meeting. This came as a number of residents during the public speaking portion bemoaned the lawlessness that has become rampant in their neighborhoods.Council thinks it's extreme
But Fulop's fellow council members voiced their disapproval of his stance toward Troy, with seven of the nine members signing a petition before the meeting in support of Troy.
Troy is a 25-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department who was appointed chief by Mayor Healy in November of 2004.
Troy could be not reached after several calls for comment.
Sgt. Edgar Martinez of the Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) said tersely, "We're not going to comment about what Councilman Steven Fulop said."
Mayor Healy also could not be reached for comment. A bold move
Fulop, when reached by telephone on Tuesday, said what seems like a shocking statement out of nowhere was something he spent a month contemplating.
"It was probably at the end of 2005 when I found out this city was going to break a record that no one wants," said Fulop referring to the number of homicides in Jersey City. "My wanting the mayor to change leadership was a reflection on my own personal view."
Fulop also said he spoke to Mayor Healy by telephone on Tuesday about his seeking Troy's resignation. Fulop said Healy defended Troy in their conversation by pointing out there was an increase in crime in 2005 in other New Jersey cities such as Camden.
But Fulop was not swayed.
"We can't make excuses...people expect the high rate of return when it comes to services in the city for the taxes they are paying," said Fulop.
Fulop, who works for the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs in New York, was elected to the City Council in last year's elections. He is one of two council members who did not run on Mayor Healy's election slate, with Ward F Councilwoman Viola Richardson being the other. They are the two who did not sign the petition supporting Troy.
In the six months on the council, Fulop has shown a bit of independent streak opposing the administration on issues such as abatements and most recently, the debt refinancing plan that the city is pursuing to fill their current budget gap. Map of crimes in Ward E
He has also taken on issues such as crime. In December, Fulop introduced on his website (www.stevenfulop.com) a map of Ward E (which covers most of Downtown Jersey City), along with statistics of crimes happening within his ward provided by the JCPD from September to December 2005.
Fulop at Wednesday's council meeting and in his letter to Mayor Healy, praised the captain and the officers of the JCPD East District, which serves Ward E, for their service and constant communication with Fulop and his constituents, as well as all the officers on the force.
"As councilman in Ward E, I have seen first-hand the increase in frequency of crime in our neighborhoods. Throughout the year, I have worked closely with the fine men and women who protect our streets as uniformed Jersey City Police officers," said Fulop.
But he continues, "While these officers do everything within their power to protect our residents and make our neighborhoods safer, I have come to the conclusion that there is a serious lack of leadership based on the statistical crime rate comparison with neighboring municipalities."
Downtown Jersey City resident Antonio Flores, who lives with his family near Van Vorst Park, attended the council meeting and agreed with Fulop.
"The police officers that I have spoken to that are family and friends of mine have told me that Police Chief [Troy] has only served himself and his friends while he has been in office," said Flores.
A 15-year JCPD veteran who wanted to remain unnamed said last week he agreed with Fulop, saying that a number of officers are complaining about mismanagement in the police force under Troy. We support Troy
Fulop said he didn't speak with his fellow council members about his announcement. Not surprisingly, they were taken aback.
Ward A Councilman Michael Sottolano on Tuesday said he "couldn't believe" Fulop would ask for Troy's resignation, and gave his support for Troy.
Before the council meeting, City Councilman at-Large Peter Brennan, consistently an ally of the JCPD on the council, gave his full support to Troy.
"I praise the chief for the last six months for bringing the police department back to where it was. I am in full support of the chief," said Brennan.
Brennan also criticized Fulop for engaging in political "grandstanding".
"I think maybe Councilman Fulop is doing a little grandstanding because there are rumors that the chief is supposed to retire in March," said Brennan. "I think Mayor Fulop is doing some grandstanding saying that he's the one who's going to get the chief to retire."
Sources inside City Hall pointed out that "outside influences" may have been behind Fulop's announcement as Fulop is rumored to have political backing from former police chief Ron Buonocore if Fulop decides to run for mayor in 2009.
City Council President Mariano Vega said before the meeting that Fulop was making a "premature request" in calling for the resignation.
"If there is a question of management, that is not obvious to me yet," Vega said. "We know we have a crime problem; people are talking about it on the street. But I don't think it rises to the point of asking for the chief to resign," said Vega. "If crime goes down, will you give him a raise in this budget crisis?"
Vega went on to say that Chief Troy is currently working on restructuring the police force to combat the city's crime problem.
City Councilwoman-at-Large Willie Flood said the crime problem should not be shouldered by Troy only.
"At my church on Sunday, the pastor, instead of giving his sermon, asked the worshippers about the crime problem," said Flood. "And the children especially, when they stood up, gave the reason that the parents were not there when they came from school. The gangs are sitting next to them in school and influencing them, saying, 'Come go with me.' " Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org