The circle is represented by the cycle of hiring officers. Some retire, others get promoted, still others get hired. The cycle keeps turning and turning, as was evident this week when three veteran officers received promotions and five other patrolmen were hired - an action caused by the retirement of three superior officers.
The hiring of the five officers brought the total number of officers to 56 - the highest number of working police officers in the history of the township.
The triangle is represented by the three-tiered proficiency that has enabled Weehawken to enjoy a dramatic decrease in all forms of crime. The township has posted an overall reduction in crime of better than 50 percent (51.26 percent, to be precise) since 1991, according to the yearly statistics released by the New Jersey State Police last week. According to the statistics, the number of crimes reported in the past three years also has shown a considerable decrease, from 175 total crimes reported in 1997 to 154 in 1999 and 111 reported in 1999.
The most startling statistic released in the State Police's report came in the amount of car thefts reported in the township. While the rest of New Jersey reported an increase in car theft by a slight number of one percent, Weehawken - a township with a heavy volume of commuters and heavy parking areas - enjoyed a decrease of nearly 22 percent (21.42 percent) since the last report in 1998.
And the decrease is apparently continuing. Although the State Police's annual report generally produces the official crime figures, preliminary reports are showing a 10 percent decrease for the first six months of 2000.
"I call it the 'Crime Prevention Triangle,'" said Jeff Welz, the township's director of public safety, last week. "The mayor and Township Council allow us to hire the highest number of officers we've ever had, because crime has decreased steadily since 1991. The hiring of the new officers is directly attributed to crime reduction. The second tier is the officers doing a tremendous job and recognizing that they have the tools to make a difference."
Added Welz: "And the third tier is the support of the community. The public is the department's eyes and ears. They're the ones who are making the calls if they see something suspicious. It all works together."
And works in a cycle, which continued to turn when Michael Avoletta was promoted to the rank of captain, while Elia Almoyan and Veronica Flood-Helwig were promoted to the rank of lieutenant.
"The promotions are a blessing," said Deputy Police Chief Robert DelPriore. "We've been short supervisors for a while. Now, I have people I can rely on. And getting the added manpower is great. Through manpower and good police work, we're able to keep the crime rate down. The more manpower, the less crime."
The new officers, sworn into active duty during the regularly scheduled township council meeting last Wednesday, are all Weehawken residents, as per the township's mandatory residence hiring rule. They are John Mulvaney, Thomas Glackin, Iggy Mitolo, Carmela Notaro and Joseph Martinez.
Notaro was all set to become the third female officer on the Weehawken police department, joining Flood-Helwig and Police Officer Karen McGorty. However, Notaro recently found out that she is expecting a child and will take a maternity leave for a year.
The other four officers will now undergo in-house training under the tutelage of Lt. Jeffrey Fulcher, within the department for a month, then will be shipped to the Bergen County Police Academy for a 22-week training period.
They will return for active patrol duty during the first week of February and will be assigned to foot patrol at that time.
"I wish it wasn't 22 weeks," DelPriore said. "We have a good in-house training program, so that gets them ready for the Academy. They learn how we do things here, so they're ready right away when they return."
The officers were hired at an annual salary of $20,000, but the salary will be increased to $23,000 upon graduation from the Police Academy.
The hiring now gives the department a ratio of nearly three patrolmen to every one superior officer.
"Last year, with 51 officers, we had 18,000 calls for police service," said Deputy Police Director Robert Zucconi. "So it's safe to say that we have a very busy police force. And because of our location, we get busier at different times. So having the new officers will help. And it's a more efficient police force when the superior officers are supervisors."
"In terms of reduction of crime, Weehawken far exceeds the state and national average," Welz said. "There isn't another urban-suburban community with the same rates. That's pretty impressive. It shows our police force is doing a bang-up job."
Other council news
In other news, the Township Council awarded plaques honoring the six veterans who recently received the New Jersey Distinguished Medal of Honor. They are: Joe Bradley, Vinnie Ortizio, Bert Palmieri, Augustine Monahan, Conrad Miniutillo and Max Elsasser.
The township also honored Thomas X. Hennigan, who donated a gigantic American flag to the township that Hennigan received from his father, also a veteran of the Korean War.
And the township issued proclamations to the many organizations that aided in the smooth sailing the township enjoyed during the OpSail 2000 festivities. Those groups include: The Weehawken Police Department, the North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue, the Weehawken Volunteer First Aid Rescue Squad, the Weehawken Departments of Public Works and Parks and Recreation, the Hudson County's Sheriff's Office, the Port Authority Police Department, the Union City Police Department and the Atlantic Health System CENCOM.