ELIZABETH, NJ — The Elizabeth Police Department has been no stranger to scandal in the past several years. In fact, the department has been no stranger to scandal since Police Director James Cosgrove took office in the late 1990s. And now, anonymous sources are saying that “enough is enough,” and they want the director and police chief gone for good.
The latest controversy stems from the implementation of new equipment throughout the detective bureau for automated time, attendance and payroll systems.
According to a memo issued by Cosgrove and provided to LocalSource, approved by Police Chief Patrick Shannon and distributed to all personnel, “effective Oct. 26, 2015, the Elizabeth Police Department will begin utilizing a newly installed automated time, attendance and payroll system. The program will include all Police Department captains, lieutenants, sergeants and detectives assigned to the detective bureau, including juvenile and narcotics.
“Commencing on Oct. 26, 2015, all personnel affected by this order shall utilize the time, attendance and payroll system at the beginning and end of their tour of duty,” the memo continues. “All entries into the system shall be done in accordance with the provided training.”
But according to sources in the Elizabeth Police Department, not all employees are affected, and a large number of people are exempt. Moreover, many in the police department are planning on filing an unfair labor practices complaint on Oct. 26.
Among those exempt include “all three deputy chiefs, the chief, and the tyrant himself, the director,” according to one source that did not mince words.
Others exempt, according to sources, include detectives in the traffic and crime analysis divisions, and detectives assigned to patrol, who sources claim are exempt because they are “protected” by the director or the police chief.
In addition, sources say approximately 150 patrol officers don’t have to punch in, but they are on board with removing the director.
The automated time stamp machine works by having the officer first punch in their personal computer code, at which point a photograph of their faces appears. A thumb is then inserted to be scanned and the machine takes a new photograph once the fingerprint is identified.
But the issue with this method is not one based on surveillance. Sources indicated that they are being watched all the time, through cameras inside the department, to GPS chips in their radios and in their patrol cars. The officers are more concerned with the exemptions and for being singled out.
“We are asking for everyone to be included in the fingerprinting, including all civilians, all deputy chiefs, the chief himself, the director, all fire personnel from civilians to firemen, to chief and directors, all city hall members to the mayor himself, or remove it immediately,” said one source in the police department.
But this situation will not end there, said sources, who are calling for the police director to resign or be forcibly removed from office, or else the residents and mayor will face the consequences of an unresponsive police force.
“No,” said one source when asked if rescinding the order would be enough. “We are tired of the director and the chief. We will continue to fight to have them removed. Enough is enough. We need new leadership immediately. And the chief, if he wanted to stand up, he could have not approved. He needs to be removed ASAP. Every officer is tired of the leadership at hand. We need change. We are 80 police officers short and are working our [butts] off, and instead of hiring cops, the director and mayor want to show they can do it with less.”
When sources were pressed to know if an official reasoning or motive was handed down for the implementation of the new system, the answer brought more strong words.
“No official notice. No reason. Nothing,” said one source. “The director hates cops. He hates us. He dislikes the detective bureau and is using it to attack. This man is a tyrant, he laughs at all of us. He doesn’t care. How can you have a system and not include everyone? Include yourself if you are a true leader. We have had enough.”
The consequences of not removing the machine could be dire, according to sources who spoke with Elizabeth anonymously for fear of retribution. If the system is not removed, and leadership does not change, sources say the force will become unresponsive.
“The police department will shut down,” one source said. “No more proactive cops. No more solved crimes. No more help. We will just drive by with our eyes closed. The mayor will lose his police department forever and the citizens will suffer. No more detectives solving anything anymore. The citizens of Elizabeth will all suffer.
“We need help,” the source continued. “And we want to work and do our jobs as cops, not as hostages. And the only people that will suffer are the citizens. We truly doubt that this machine will be removed. The director is a tyrant…. We just want it out and we want everyone to know that the slowness is because of the director, the chief and the mayor, not because we don’t want to be cops anymore.”
And while the anger from sources on the police force is directed squarely at the police director and the police chief, one source had strong words for Mayor Christian Bollwage as well.
“This mayor talks about Christie being a bully,” said one source, “Mayor Bollwage is worse, wanting to control everything, yelling at our officers at construction sites, talking about the board of education all the time and attacking them when he is even worse. He hires who he wants, gives positions out to all his people. This guy is really pathetic.”
Sources went on to explain that the department has a table of organization, or TO, that calls for 365 cops, but there are only 286. Again, sources claim this is the fault of the director and mayor attempting to save money, and it forces officers and detectives to work that much harder.
It is unclear how the city will react to these strong words. The police director was reached via phone before press time, but he stated “no comment” and hung up the phone once LocalSource identified itself, and before the purpose of the call could be explained.
Controversies surrounding Elizabeth Police Department have come up many times in the past, most recently with no-show jobs being investigated by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and revealing pictures showing use of alcohol in the department. The investigation found wrongdoing on the part of two people, and told the department to handle any other issues in house.
Then, just as now, sources in the police department have used strong language when speaking with LocalSource, but the City of Elizabeth has never commented. Sources in the police department have made it clear to LocalSource that they do not plan on resting their case until the director rescinds the order and resigns.
“We will crush this department and the director and chief,” said one source, indicating there could be many more controversies in store. “We have had enough. Everything comes out.”