After nearly six years without one, the Secaucus Police Department swore in three captains at a special ceremony held May 18, as part a continuing restructuring of the police department under Police Chief Dennis Corcoran. The Town Council authorized the promotion of three police lieutenants to captain at its May 16 meeting when Richard Scalzo, John Buckley and Stanley Rozansky took their oaths. Former Mayor Anthony Just had opposed the promotions during his reign, leaving the force without a captain since Ronald Gorman retired in May, 1994. Mayor Dennis Elwell said he supported the move because the department needs a structured chain of command, one that will provide adequate leadership on each level, and something that was gutted by early retirements during the mid-1990s. "We cannot have an up-to-date police department without having a full complement of officers," Elwell said. "Captains are necessary to command tours of duty with lieutenants and other answerable to them." Although Councilman John Bueckner questioned the move, suggesting that there may have been a time when Corcoran had agreed with then Mayor Just to leave the force without a captain's rank, Corcoran said - in a later interview - said he had always considered a possible need. "When I was asked during my interview for chief if I saw a need to promote captains, I said possibly one or two," Corcoran said. Over the last five years, retirements have depleted the force of many of its upper-ranking officers. When Corcoran was sworn in as chief in 1997, he began to recreate an internal chain of command, restoring key positions. In 1991, the force had over 70 officers. Two years ago, that number was at 48. Corcoran and the council have managed since to bring the force back up to 56 this year. Councilman John Reilly said that the department needs three captains because of the way duties will break down on the force. Reilly - liaison to the police department - said that the council agreed to give Corcoran powers to restructure the department, and should continue to rely on his expertise in the matter. "We agreed to name sergeants and lieutenants, and now this is the next step," Reilly said. Other council members defended the move. Council Robert Kickey said that four new police officers recently were hired and that the council had also agreed to purchase four new police cars, all part of the overall plans put forth by the police chief. Councilman Fred Constantino said he believed the police chief was doing a fine job and that the council needed to let him choose his captains. Reilly said the chief had issued a letter to the council detailing the promotions and that this had been enough for the rest of the council to make a decision. According to this letter, the chief said each of the new captains would be placed in charge of a police division: investigations, patrol and services. Councilman Mike Grecco - in paraphrasing from the letter during the May 16 meeting - said that these officers had been doing these duties for a while, but were often outranked by officers in other municipal departments with whom they had to deal frequently. Corcoran in a later interview said the three lieutenants had over 60 years combined experience that he wished to use more efficiently, and in his letter noted that each lieutenant's experience seemed to fall into the assigned area. Bueckner, however, was more critical of the Town Council for failing to discuss the promotions more thoroughly, claiming the council spent four minutes in caucus before the May 16 meeting, leaving him little or no time to think about the issue. He said he wasn't particularly opposed to the promotions, only the way the situation was handled by the council. After failing to get a second on his effort to table the motion, Bueckner abstained.