NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The city's police force had seven extra sets of eyes and ears in the crowd at this year's fireworks celebration, as auxiliary police worked for the first time in over a decade.
Auxiliary police get free training from the Middlesex County Police Academy, do not carry guns, and are unpaid volunteers who give a minimum of 110 hours per year.
Lt. JT Miller said, "It is our intention to use the auxiliary for events."
He said their first assignment was at the annual Independence Day fireworks celebration, where they served as, "an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands to direct traffic and assist the police officers."
Russell Marchetta, a spokesman for Mayor James Cahill said the seven auxiliary officers are off to a good start.
"From what I hear it's working fine. I understand everything worked well."
Marchetta added that the officers will be making their next public appearance at the first of several "Hub City Sounds" live music events in Boyd Park on Saturday August 11.
The city ended its auxiliary program some time during the early 1990's and tried to resurrect it once before.
According to a July 2006 press release, former Police Director Joe Catanese and Mayor Cahill attempted to re-start the unit.
"The Auxiliary Police will give the people of New Brunswick another layer of protection and a new avenue of participation in our fight against crime,” Cahill said in the release.
The release also said the unit would initially consist of 10 officers. But Miller said that the city only recieved one application for the position, and the applicant was ineligible because he did not live in New Brunswick.
Eventually, the idea was scrapped. But in the wake of a controversial police killing last September, the city brought the idea back from the dead.
This time, more than 30 applicants sought a position on the new unit. Originally, the administration had hoped to graduate a class of twelve from the police academy.
Community liason and assistant city attorney Charley Gayden said, "We recieved approximately 36 applications. We've identified eleven and there's one more who came in. I think we're gong to start with an academy of twelve."
But, the city only offerred the position to eleven of the applicants and four didn't complete the training.
"One never showed, one left after lunch," Captain William Milligan said when asked for an update during the March 7 City Council meeting.
The police department rejected a public records request filed by NewBrunswickToday.com asking for the applications of those who were not accepted to the auxiliary.
"Applications not accepted are not available to the public without written approval for disclosure from the applicant. We do not request such approval for disclosure and respect the privacy of applicants not accepted for consideration," Miller said.
The NBPD did, however, provide copies of the applications of the 11 persons who were intially accepted into the program:
- Zair Hill, age 18
- Edwin Lazo, age 19
- Jose Gomez, age 21
- Luis Berrios Jr., age 27
- Ervin Gomez, age 28
- Juan Martinez, age 28
- Nicole Lewis, age 28
- Gustavo Sandoval, age 18 (did not complete training)
- Madeline Medina, age 20 (did not complete training)
- Eduardo DeJesus, age 42 (did not complete training)
- Michael Ford, age 55 (did not complete training)
Berrios is an elected Democratic Committeeman representing the 1st Ward, 1st District. He also serves on the city's powerful Planning Board.
Miller said the special officers will wear a "modified uniform" with a blue stripe on their leg instead of yellow, and "a lighter blue shirt with a different patch."
He also said they will periodically be able to use police vehicles.
"A majority will be on foot, but there could be an assignment where they will use a vehicle."
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.