NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The city's 126-member police department is a little more top-heavy after five promotions made today in a closed ceremony at City Hall.
As we reported earlier this year, the New Brunswick Police Department already had six lieutenants and sixteen seargents, all of whom make salaries in excess of $111,000.
Above them are three captains and the department's Civilian Director, Anthony Caputo.
George Bistany and Anthony Starzynski were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, while Maurice Finney, Marc Acevedo, and Ronoldy Martinez were promoted to Seargents.
All five were administered the oath of office by Mayor Jim Cahill at the ceremony, which was attended by family members and co-workers. New Brunswick Today was not permitted to attend the ceremony at the request of "some of the officers."
"I'm the same way," said Captain JT Miller, the department's Public Information Officer. "I don't want people taking pictures of my kids."
The Council Chambers were packed as is often the case with police promotion ceremonies, leaving a cadre of cops and prosecutors roaming in the hallway outside.
Promotion ceremonies in 2011 and 2012 were not only open to the public, they were also video recorded and published by the Mayor's Office.
Cahill spokesperson Jennifer Bradshaw said that, when she was a journalist for New Brunswick Patch, she too was not permitted at police promotion ceremonies.
"The decision is that of the police director, and has been for a while," Bradshaw said.
"I wasn't permitted into police promotion ceremonies either when I was with Patch, for what it's worth."
The ceremony likely meant different things to each officer.
Members of Maurice Finney's family were among the first to arrive. Finney, is a 19-year veteran of the NBPD, where he serves as a field training officer.
Finney is also one of several African-American NBPD officers who have sued their bosses, including Mayor Cahill and Police Director Anthony Caputo, both of whom were present for the ceremony.
"He received a Unit Citation in 1998 for the apprehension of a dangerous suspect who was committing crimes around Middlesex County," according to a city press release.
But, according to his lawsuit against the city, "for at least 20 years, political control of the City of New Brunswick has been exercised by a political machine which is now headed by the Mayor."
For Acevedo, it's not the first time he will be called "seargent."
Acevedo has been a member of the NBPD since 2001 and a member of the US Army since 1994, according to the release.
"He deployed to Iraq from January 2011 to November 2011, where he served in the rank of 1st Sergeant and was awarded the Bronze Star in recognition of his service," reads the release.
Martinez has only been with the New Brunswick force since 2003, but as a detective in the Major Crimes Unit, he helped to investigate the tragic death of Billy McCaw, a college student found murdered earlier this year.
"A New Brunswick resident for many years… he has received several commendations and recognitions for his work, including his role in an investigation of a high-profile murder earlier this year on Hartwell Street," reads the release.
The two men who are now Lieutenants will see their annual pay increased above $125,000.
"Lietenants help to form the backbone of the department's chain of command," said Mayor Cahill at a previous promotion ceremony. "Lieutenants provide leadership, experience and instill good judgment and character in the officers that they lead."
Bistany, whose brother works for the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office, has risen through the ranks quickly. He has only been with the NBPD since 2001, when he started as a dispatcher before becoming an officer.
Starzynski, a 20-year veteran of NBPD, has received the Meritorious Service award and a Unit Citation award in 2010 for his role in a homicide investigation, according to the release.
The department has a total of 126 sworn officers as of November 10, fewer than in previous years. But Mayor James Cahill has promised to hire twenty officers in this year's budget.
"The department has two new officers out on the road and eight more going through the current academy, for a total of 10," said Bradshaw.
Bradshaw said new officers Michael Powers and James Bennett have joined the force, with 18 spots waiting to be filled by graduates of the Police Academy.
"There are currently 10 spots allotted for the next academy, but if any of the officers presently enrolled do not meet the standards for graduation set by the New Jersey Police Training Commission, then the number of spaces will increase accordingly for the next academy class so that we meet the number of 20," said Bradshaw.
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 was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.