Less than one month after West New York's police department named 23-year veteran Deputy Chief Thomas O'Donnell as the Officer of the Month, Deputy Director Joseph Pelliccio stripped O'Donnell of the administrative services that were part of his duties.
O'Donnell received the citation for Officer of the Month for the month of September for his work as operational commander during the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
On Oct. 9, Pelliccio posted the order that the administrative duties would be transferred to the department's administrative services department.
Pelliccio said that he did not take this action based on O'Donnell's performance; he just thought that the department would run more smoothly if these administrative duties were handled directly by Pelliccio.
"I wanted a more hands-on approach of the paperwork in the administrative division," said Pelliccio.
However, after asking Pelliccio for an explanation of the command switch, O'Donnell contacted the West New York Police Supervisors' Association.
Recently, the police superiors union sent and posted a letter to Pelliccio questioning the move. However, they have yet to receive a response.
Captain John Santa Maria, president of the PSA, said that after Pelliccio did not respond to a letter, the union consulted a lawyer for legal advice.
"[The lawyer] has explained some options with us and we are exploring those options," said Santa Maria.
Santa Maria said that the union has not decided to take legal action yet. Santa Maria added that the union's decision to take legal action will depend on O'Donnell and what help he chooses to seek from the union.
O'Donnell's salary did not change with the change in duties.
The administrative duties taken from O'Donnell include development of departmental policies, background checks on police applicants, licensing of cabbies and bartenders, supervising computer activities, and monitoring employee sick leave. They were transferred to the department's administrative services department headed by Capt. Michael Caligiero. According to Pelliccio, Caligiero will report directly to Pelliccio.
The administrative division already handles all licensing, the court system and the training of officers.
Deputy Chief O'Donnell will still oversee the department's non-uniform division, which includes the department's detectives, juvenile division, street crime division and warrant squad as well as the patrol division.
Pelliccio was hired as deputy director in 1997 after the department was reorganized by the town's Board of Commissioners. The reorganization called for 123 officers and 34 superiors. The department now has sergeants, lieutenants, captains and a deputy chief. The deputy director now sits as the police chief, and there is no actual police chief.
Since Pelliccio took the position, he has added a motorcycle division, an emergency response team and an honor squad to the department.