By Ron Leir
Marytrine DeCastro was seated as the newest member of the Kearny Town Council and five members of the Kearny Police Department were promoted last Tuesday.
Selected by members of the Democratic County Committee to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Alexa Arce Jan. 5, DeCastro will serve through the November general election, at which point she plans to run for the two years remaining in Arce’s unexpired term.
An occupational health nurse currently working at the Daily News plant in Jersey City, DeCastro has lived 19 years in the First Ward which she now represents, along with Councilman Albino Cardoso. She will chair the council’s Lighting Committee and will serve on the License, Transportation and Beautification Committees and as liaison to the Civil Rights Commission.
After the council approved the elevations in police ranks, Mayor Alberto Santos swore in Lt. Peter Caltabellotta and Sgts. Joseph Vulcano, Scott Traynor, John Corbett Jr. and Glenn Reed.
Corbett and Reed each comes from a family with a record of departmental service:
Corbett’s dad, John Sr., is a retired deputy police chief with more than 34 years of service, and his grandfather, the late Jack Johnstone, was a captain, while Reed’s dad, Philip, and brother Greg, are both retired captains, with Philip putting in 30 years and Greg, who left the force earlier this month, had 27 years.
All assume their new rank, effective March 1. A lieutenant’s current base salary is $125,794 a year; a sergeant’s annual base pay is $109,577.
After congratulating the newly sworn superiors, Santos noted that while calls for police assistance continue to rise, the KPD’s “high level of effectiveness continues to improve.”
Police Chief John Dowie, who is also hoping to get six new rank-and-file officers appointed, handed those newly promoted their new badges and offered mini-biographies on each for the benefit of family members, fellow officers and members of the public who packed the council chambers for the ceremonies.
Lt. Caltabellotta is a 15-year department veteran who, Dowie noted, “made stops at NJ Transit PD and the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office” before landing in Kearny but once here, the chief said, he made his mark. Known as “Speedy” and “One Speed” with the KPD, Dowie said that Caltabellotta “has always been steady, dependable,” having worked in the COP unit, DARE, bicycle patrol and National Night Out, among other duties.
Sgt. Vulcano was appointed to the force in 1996 and was “on loan” to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Task Force,” performing valuable service for six years, while, in the process, interfacing with state and federal law enforcement agencies as well, Dowie said.
Sgt. Traynor came to the KPD in 1999 after serving in the U.S. Air Force and now has a son serving with the U.S. military overseas as a demolition expert, Dowie said. With the KPD, Traynor worked as a DARE officer, in the Vice Squad and Detective Bureau where, Dowie said, he was “an outstanding investigator,” which he demonstrated with the work he did on the fatal shooting of Kearny teen Alishia Colon in her home Jan. 17, 2013, leading to the arrest of several suspects. He is also a N.J. State PBA Valor Award winner and he has served as the PBA vice president. His wife Rose is also a member of the KPD.
Sgt. Corbett, a 20-year member of the force, elected to return to night patrol after serving with the COP unit, Detective Bureau and elsewhere, Dowie said. Under his leadership, the Junior Police Academy “has been a rousing success.” Corbett, who has been “decorated twice by the 200 Club,” has also been assigned to Marine Patrol, Tactical Team and firearms instructor. “And now,” Dowie said, “he’s putting himself through school to get certified as an incident stress manager.”
Sgt. Reed, who has put in 19 years with the KPD, has spent the past eight years as the local PBA president – a job that Dowie described “one of the most dangerous assignments” that a cop can be asked to perform. Still, the chief said, Reed handled it admirably.