By Ron Leir
Six new officers – two with local public safety pedigrees – have been added to the Kearny Police Department but due to anticipated retirements, their arrival won’t provide much relief for a force already stretched thin.
Last Monday, the Kearny Town Council voted to appoint the officers, effective April 13, at the initial salary step of $44,821 a year.
The rookies will begin their mandated training next month at the Passaic County Police Academy and, if successful, finish in October, Police Chief John Dowie said.
“Then, we get them for two months field training and orientation to local streets,” Dowie said. “We’re hoping to get them on the street by December.”
With the new hirings, Dowie said his departmental strength is up to 100 – far below the 120 authorized by the department’s Table of Organization.
Dowie estimated that “12 to 15” cops – many of them supervisory officers – will be eligible to put in their pension applications between now and year’s end. A 27- year veteran, Capt. Stephen P. Durkin, just retired March 1 with $72,732 in terminal leave pay and unused vacation pay. And Capt. Tom Osborn, with 27 years on the force, will be leaving June 1. Plus, Sgt. John Becker, with 26 years, is retiring April 1.
So, in anticipation of an even further diminished roster, Dowie said he has asked for an “immediate recertification” of an appointment list for more rank and file cops.
Meanwhile, Dowie, who was authorized to hire up to 10 new cops now, said it was a struggle just to end up with the new six officers from an original list of 75 eligibles.
The new hires are Dominic Dominguez, Mina Elkadious, Victor Girdwood, Sean Podolski, Esteban Gonzalez and Christos Manolis.
Dominguez, 22, is a Newark resident who did a one-year tour in Afghanistan with the Army’s 508th Military Police Combat unit and, following his discharge from the service, got a job as a dispatcher with the Montclair PD in December 2011 where he will continue to work until he enters the academy.
Elkadious, 23, is a Kearny resident who has worked as a paralegal with a law firm in Orange.
Girdwood, 24, is a Kearny resident whose dad, Victor Sr., is a member of the Kearny Fire Department. Victor Jr. has worked about six months as a Hudson County Sheriff ’s officer and has attended college classes.
Podolski, 20, is a lifelong Kearny resident and the son of Kearny Police Det. Stephen Podolski. He has been working as a private security officer for a South Kearny firm and has been taking college courses.
Gonzalez, 34, is a Newark resident who has performed military service as a weapons specialist with the Air National Guard. He has worked as a security officer with the Newark public school system and has served with the Essex County Department of Corrections since August 2014. He is married with two children.
Manolis, 25, is a Kearny resident and Kearny High School graduate who served with the Army in Afghanistan, earning a campaign medal and two campaign stars. After his discharge, he worked in private security and has served as a Hudson County Sheriff ’s officer assigned to the courts. He is a member of the Kearny Veterans of Foreign Wars post.