Eleven North Bergen police officers were promoted at a ceremony at the Recreation Center on Tuesday, Dec. 18. After retirements left several department positions open, the officers who advanced in rank and salary included two deputy chiefs, two captains, five lieutenants and two sergeants.
The town commissioners introduced an ordinance promoting the officers on Dec. 5 and adopted it Dec. 19, the day after the ceremony. The combined salary increases for all 11 total $127,368.
“These promotions were very important to bring our police force up to its natural potential and optimal staffing level,” said Mayor Nicholas Sacco. “Each of the men and women are very deserving and have given many years of excellent service to the residents of North Bergen, working hard to keep all of us safe. Promoting them was the right thing to do for the township and also shows our support of the new chief of police, Robert Dowd.”
“These promotions were very important to bring our police force up to its natural potential and optimal staffing level.” – Mayor Nicholas Sacco
The lucky 11
“All the officers achieved the highest exam scores and were ranked at the top of their respective Civil Service lists,” said Dowd.
The officers with 20-plus years of experience with the Police Department, with their new rankings, are: Lt. James Holsten, Deputy Chief Gerald Sanzari, Capt. Patrick Irwin, Sgt. Anthony Trentacosti, Lt. Timothy Faranda and Captain William Lyons.
The remainder of the 11 officers promoted are: Sgt. Mario Ho-Pelaez, Lt. Marco Rovelo, Lt. Christine Klag, Deputy Chief Peter Fasilis, and Lt. Thomas Ferrari.
Deputy Chief Sanzari is a certified police academy instructor who taught at the Jersey City Police Academy. Sanzari served as the department’s patrol division commander, which will now head the Operations Section that encompasses patrol, traffic, detectives, and school resource officers.
Deputy Chief Fasilis is a certified police academy instructor who taught at the Jersey City, Passaic County, and Bergen County police academies. He is a member of the Counter Terrorism Taskforce. Fasilis oversees the department’s emergency services unit, administrative duties, and is the department’s supervising firearms instructor.
Captain Lyons was assigned to Patrol Division Commander, and all five squad lieutenants report to him.
Captain Irwin is the Detective Bureau commander, public information officer, and a member of the Emergency Services Unit. He previously served as the Juvenile Bureau supervisor.
Lt. Klag is the highest ranking female officer at the NBPD. She worked for the township at the age of 14 as a lifeguard at the municipal pool and worked several years as a volunteer with North Bergen EMS prior to becoming a police officer.
Lt. Rovelo is the founder and captain of the township’s police department soccer team.
Lt. Holsten was assigned for about a year to the NJ State Police (NJSP) Taskforce. During his tenure with the NJSP Taskforce, his unit seized over $1.8 million dollars in cash from suspected drug dealers. He now heads the newly-formed North Bergen Police Narcotics Squad.
Lt. Faranda spent 16 years with the patrol division prior to joining the staff in the office of the chief of police.
Lieutenant Ferrari previously worked for the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office prior to joining the Police Department.
Sergeant Trentacosti is assigned to BCI Sergeant who is responsible for managing the department’s Criminal Justice Information Systems computers along with serving as the property and evidence function supervisor.
Ho-Pelaez, who was a former police officer, is now Squad 1 Sergeant.
The township responded after veteran officers from the Police Department retired, leaving several positions open. State legislation changes made many fearful they would lose compensation for unused benefits and face taxation on their retirement benefits.
“Over the past 18 months, the North Bergen Police Department has witnessed a mass exodus of personnel due to changes in state legislation governing pensions and benefits,” said Dowd. “The township replaced these officers by hiring 24 officers in the past 18 months. The problem we had is a majority of those who retired were superior officers that functioned in a supervisory capacity.”
He added, “The residents, business owners, and visitors of the township deserve the most professional delivery of police services possible. The addition of new supervisors will help ensure the department to run as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org