Carter, who has served on the South Orange Police Department since 1994, will provide the Secaucus department with another desperately needed qualified officer, said Town Administrator Anthony Iacono, who said Secaucus has lost two officers this month.
"One officer is retiring and the other has transferred to Florida," Iacono said.
Carter has experience in Community Policing program, bicycle patrol, unmarked patrol involving street crime prevention and surveillance and radio car patrol. He has served as a field training officer, a detective, a vice and narcotics officer and as part of the Essex County Prosecutor's Narcotics Task Force.
A resident of East Orange, Carter is a graduate of East Orange High School, Rutgers University (New Brunswick) and the Paterson Police Academy. He has been trained to handle Driving While Intoxicated situations, prisoner control, Hazardous Material situation, fingerprinting and crime scene photography and numerous drug-enforcement procedures. He has won numerous honors for his police work, including a 1995 Police Benevolent Association citation for Outstanding Police Work and a 1996 U.S. Department of Justice award for "Outstanding contribution in the field of narcotics enforcement."
"We were worked out a lateral transfer from East Orange to our department," Iacono said. "We needed a qualified officer to fill in our ranks right away."
While the Town Council is expected to hire two new recruits from its existing list at the reorganization meeting on Jan. 6, Iacono said hiring Carter on Dec. 23 provides the department with an immediate experienced officer.
"While Carter will have to get used to our town and our department, he can start right away," Iacono said. "The new recruits will have to go to the police academy for 26 weeks. We are not hiring Carter because he is black, but because he is experienced."
NAACP agreement met
Carter also fulfills the town's mandate to seek out and hire officers of color, as part of an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Secaucus police hirings have been governed by two agreements, one with the U.S. Justice Department another with the NAACP since the early 1990s, requiring the town to seek a wider range of candidates that include areas with large minority populations.
In early 1993, Secaucus signed a consent agreement with U.S. Justice Department that had Secaucus more aggressively seek blacks and Latinos. One way to do this was to advertise jobs in black and Hispanic media. Until that time, Secaucus had three lists, a Secaucus, county and state list. Theoretically, the town would draw from the county and state lists once viable candidates ran out on the local list, but the local list never ran out.
The NAACP began looking into the town's hiring policies in 1994 as a result of a previous agreement with the U.S. Justice Department. While the Justice Department agreement sought to change hiring practices for the police department, forcing the department to seek applicants from more racially-mixed areas of the state, the NAACP agreement expanded that to cover other town workers.
"We spent about $75,000 to advertise throughout the region," Elwell said. "We got 1,800 applications to fill six jobs."
But the advertising failed to achieve the NAACP's goal since the town managed to hire only one black officer.
In order to reduce the cost of the advertising, the town petitioned the NAACP in 1999 to modify the original agreement and allow the town to advertise only in Hudson County. As a result, the police received about 400 applications, but still did not find any additional qualified candidates who would meet the NAACP's goal.
Last year, the town came to a new agreement with the NAACP that would allow Secaucus to create a local list and give preference to Secaucus residents - provided that the town hire a minority candidate from a county list.
Iacono said the single-list concept originally outlined had posed "a hardship" on local residents, who found themselves facing stiff competition for jobs. While Secaucus was restricted from giving preference to local residents, other towns around the state - free of Justice Department or NAACP scrutiny - continued to hire locally, limiting the options of those Secaucus residents seeking jobs. Secaucus residents couldn't get hired in other towns, and faced stiff competition in Secaucus.
Elwell said the hiring of Carter fulfills the agreement with the NAACP and allows the town to appoint two more local residents from the existing list.
"I believe that our town is best served when we can hire local residents for our police force," Elwell said. "That's what this allows us to do."
Police chief pens contract; PBA negotiations continue
Police Chief Dennis Corcoran has agreed to a three-year pact that will give him an increase of 3.4 percent over each year.
This is in line with increases given to all the other town employees in recently negotiated contracts, including workers for the Secaucus Municipal Utilities Authority that settled their contract on Dec. 6.
"We've been extremely successful over the last two years in negotiating with the town's five other bargaining units," said Town Administrator Anthony Iacono. "Each of these units has agreed to 3.4 percent per year."
Iacono said this has contributed strongly to the town's ability to maintain stable taxes. Taxes resulting from the municipal budget have not gone up in four years.
Iacono said the chief settling for the same amount will set the tone for negotiations with the Secaucus Policeman's Benevolent Association - the bargaining unit for the police. The police contract expired on Dec. 31.
"We've met with them three times and we've made some progress, but we're not yet down to the 3.4 percent," Iacono said.
While the chief of police's salary - which will rise from $105,000 this year to $116,000 by the end of 2006 - is not included in the PBA contract, his salary and benefits have generally reflected those of the rank and file.
"We hope the PBA will settle for the same percentage as the police chief did," Iacono said.