Laterals or rookies? E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

If you read American Police Beat, you know that New Jersey is having a hell of a time trying to keep enough cops on the beat to provide service. When one of the most dangerous cities in the nation is talking about laying off half the force you know it's a bad situation. With more budget cuts and layoffs looming on the horizon, Union County Prosecutor Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow is calling into question the hiring decisions made recently by the Township of Springfield regarding the police department.


Springfield's hiring committee recently hired eight police officers. Three of them do not have the necessary training certification. The Township officials claim that the untrained officers bring worthwhile skills and credentials to Springfield.

But Romankow, whose office began overseeing the police force in June due to a deficit of senior officers, believes the township should have hired laid-off officers from other departments who are already certified. But instead of hiring laterals, Romankow said, the township will now be forced to spend roughly $70,000 in salary, benefits and training costs on the three new officers while they train for six months.

"It's a disregard of public funds at a time when budgets are tight," Romankow told the ledger newspaper. Mayor Ziad Andrew Shehady said the decision to hire the officers was based on their credentials and the recommendations of Richard Rosell, the township's public safety director, and Capt. John Cook, the officer in charge of the police division.

The recommendations were based on the applicants military background. Rosell said last week the three non-certified officers were selected from a pool of more than 100 applicants and impressed officials with their decisiveness, command presence and military background.

"We don't look at these people as a quick fix, but as the future of the Springfield police division," the director told reporters. Rosell downplayed any perceived favoritism in selecting his former subordinates. "That's ridiculous," Rosell said. "If I was going to use my influence to help somebody, I would probably help a friend."

Romankow said he wants the township to name Cook as chief, saying he's ready to assume control. But Rosell, who said he wouldn't recommend a candidate before next summer, said Romankow's endorsement wouldn't influence his selection.

Mayor Shehady said the three non-certified officers would be sworn in after the new year in an effort to spread out the hiring costs between two fiscal years. The new officers will start at a salary of roughly $37,000, Shehady added.

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