New cops on top Mayor makes appointments to police department
by : Prescott Tolk Reporter staff writer
Aug 03, 2001 | 570 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In his first step to reorganize the Police Department, Mayor Glenn Cunningham swore in a new police director and a police chief in an elaborate ceremony at the council chambers of City Hall on Wednesday.

It was difficult to find room to stand as members of the department joined friends and relatives who gathered to watch the new director of police, James H. Carter, and the new chief of police, Peter Behrens, take the oath of office.

The positions of police department director and police chief differ in that the police department director handles administrative duties such as the budget, and the police chief runs the day-to-day operations of the police force. The chief usually comes up through the ranks, while the director doesn't necessarily have to.

For Cunningham, the event was an opportunity to address his concerns about crime and the methods he intends to use to deter it. He reiterated campaign promises to make crime prevention the first priority of the police department by improving the department's responsiveness to emergency calls, developing a meaningful partnership between neighborhoods and the police and deterring at-risk juveniles from using drugs.

Since Cunningham and Carter have both the served at federal law enforcement agencies, the mayor hopes their connections will persuade agencies such as Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Drug Enforcement agency to open offices in Jersey City and assist with crime prevention programs.

A need for respect and sensitivity in the Police Department occupied a key part of Cunningham's speech. "We are looking for police leadership to come up with a new attitude," he said.

Without going into specifics, he briefly discussed an incident years ago that he encountered with a Jersey City police officer who showed him disrespect, not knowing that he himself had been a Jersey City police officer. Cunningham added that Carter had the same experience at a different time with the same officer.

New direction

Carter, 52, is a former assistant secret service agent in charge of the Newark Division. He has a 30-year career with federal law enforcement agencies that also include the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Born and raised in Jersey City, Carter said he had reached all of his career goals and was looking forward to leading the police department that inspired him to enter law enforcement.

Cunningham, who first met Carter in the late 1970s, worked with him closely during his tenure as a U.S.

Marshall. Last month, Cunningham offered him the position, forcing Carter to make a quick decision whether to take it or not. "This will give me an opportunity while I'm still young to serve the city," Carter said.

Addressing the large crowd, Carter reminisced about his childhood dreams of entering law enforcement. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1967 and joined the FBI in 1972. The youngest of seven children, Carter said he was a loner. One day he decided to put on a "Popeye the Sailor" cap, cut a broomstick to look like a billyclub and strap a toy gun on his belt. Although he looked like a small boy wearing a costume in the mirror, he remembers what he saw when he wore his uniform outside. "When I walked down the street," he said, "I saw my shadow and I saw a police officer."

The new chief

Following Carter's speech, Cunningham swore in Deputy Chief Peter Behrens as the city's 34th chief of police. Behrens, 49, has served in the Jersey City Police Department for 28 years. In 1997 he was promoted to deputy chief and was assigned to North District Command in August 2000.

"I've known Peter since the first day he was in a uniform," Cunningham said. Since then, Behrens has received five commendations, five excellent police service awards, three community service awards and three unit citations.

Picking Behrens to be the chief of police was an easy choice, according to Cunningham. "A year ago, I asked Peter to make a police plan for Jersey City," Cunningham said, referring to his crime prevention strategies. "I figured what better person to implement the plan than the person who put the plan together."

His plan, coinciding with the mayor's philosophy about a holistic approach to fighting crime, involves boosting community involvement by expanding the neighborhood block association. Other initiatives include working with other municipal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services to provide comprehensive drug education programs.

"We could become a regional showcase for exemplary policing," Behrens said. "I want to thank the mayor who is in charge of the second largest city in the state, for putting me at the helm of a Police Department that is second to none."

Two deputy mayors, possible new head for park Development Corporation

In the past week, Mayor Cunningham has appointed two full-time deputy mayors to serve under him. During the administration of Bret Schundler, there were six part-time deputy mayors.

Gene Drayton, a former Hoboken police officer, and Anthony Cruz, a former aid to Senator Jon Corzine, were appointed deputy mayors of Jersey City and will receive a salary of $50,000. Deputy mayors represent the mayor at different functions when he is not available, extending the reach of the mayor's office.

Drayton has served as president of the Hoboken NAACP chapter and was appointed to the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission by former govs. Christine Todd Whitman and Jim Florio. He has also worked for the county and has served in a volunteer position as chair of the Hoboken Housing Authority.

However, there is some controversy surrounding Drayton. In July of 1988, federal authorities investigated Drayton after conversations he had at Casella's Restaurant in Hoboken were mentioned in FBI wiretaps. The wiretaps were placed there in connection with an investigation into organized crime. However, Drayton was never indicted or arrested in connection with the wiretaps. Drayton denied any wrongdoing at the time.

In other reorganization efforts, Cunningham has eliminated three positions in the mayor's office and added the position of communications director - who has yet to be named - saving the city an estimated $100,000 in annual salaries, he said. The new position includes handling press relations. Contrary to having many deputy mayors, Cunningham said he will have aides in his office who will advise on him on separate issues, like education, housing and criminal justice.

Projecting a $23 million budget deficit for the 2001-2002 fiscal year, Cunningham has stressed the need for fiscal responsibility. Under the former administration, deputy mayors were given city-owned cars to use. Cunningham has stopped that practice and added that anyone using a city-owned vehicle must have a specific purpose that requires one.

In addition, Cunningham wants to appoint a new president of the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation.

"I have an individual that is willing to do it for $1," Cunningham said, referring to Michael Cunningham, a Jersey City businessman who runs Cunningham Graphics based in Liberty State Park. "Off and on when there's a possibility, I try to include people from the business community."

The current president, Stuart Koperweis, was appointed by Schundler and earns more than $80,000 a year, according to Cunningham.

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