My name is Justin DePascale. I am a 32-year-old resident and police officer, not in jeopardy by the layoff plan. I have lived in Hoboken all of my life. I recently moved out for less than a year and collectively decided, with my wife Cara, to move back because Hoboken is the place we want to raise our son, now six months old. Throughout my life here in Hoboken, I have seen so many changes, mostly for the betterment of our city. We know that Hoboken is a safe, friendly, and fun place to live, but it wasn’t always that way.
For those of you who do not know my family history, my grandfather, Louis DePascale, was the 30th mayor of Hoboken. During his terms as mayor, Hoboken was not the desirable urban center that it is today. As mayor, he utilized the “Model Cities” program to begin Hoboken’s transformation. His experience on the city council, as well as holding the office of mayor, taught him that public safety was the most important component of his beloved city’s forward progression. Dilapidated buildings, empty lots, and abandoned industrial complexes were part of Hoboken’s landscape. Worst of all, crime was a major part of life in Hoboken. In 1970 during a holdup at the local liquor store, my mother was shot while standing outside, getting caught in the cross fire. This occurred just a few doors down from her home on 7th and Garden Street. This same home was burglarized on three separate occasions, with many items being stolen. Today, thankfully, Hoboken is a different place to live.
How did Hoboken become one of the most desirable places to live in the country? Before banks would lend money to builders, before planners could design a model city or builders construct new neighborhoods, and before thousands of young people would have made Hoboken their home, there had to be an understanding and reputation of Hoboken being a safe city. If one were to chart the correlation of the crime rate dropping to the increase in investments and population in Hoboken, you would see that as crime rates dropped, investments and population were on the rise. Here we are now, in 2010, with a population of almost 50,000 people, and an envy of cities throughout the state, with a 20 million dollar budget surplus. I believe it is incomprehensible that Mayor Zimmer would even consider making a reduction to our police force. We all know that creating and sustaining a safe city is a community effort, but an effective police department is the main ingredient.
So I ask, Mayor Zimmer, please reconsider your decision to lay off 18 of our police officers. Please let Hoboken keep its reputation as one of the safest cities in our state. I know my grandfather would have been so proud of the many ways in which Hoboken has progressed. Let’s keep our city moving in a positive direction. Thank you.
Justin L. DePascale