No. 2 leaving but will town replace him?

Photo courtesy Michael Green Police Capt. Michael Green
Photo courtesy Michael Green
Police Capt. Michael Green


The Harrison Police Department is losing its No. 2 superior and it appears he won’t be replaced … at least not by anyone in the same rank.

When Capt. Michael Green bids farewell Dec. 1 after nearly 27 years with the department – including part of that time as deputy chief – the rank of captain will disappear from the HPD’s Table of Organization.

That, according to Mayor James Fife and Police Chief Derek Kearns, is the result of terms dictated by the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) as one of the conditions the town had to accept when it was awarded transitional aid by the state.

Since 2009, Harrison has continued to accept “special municipal aid” and transitional aid from the state as a way of offsetting municipal property tax increases in tandem with economic layoffs of employees and reduced civilian and uniformed staffing levels.

For example, in 2010 – five years after Green had been promoted to deputy chief – the HPD was compelled, at the state’s behest, to drop the rank of deputy chief and Green was returned to the rank of captain.

Now that Green is set to retire, “I have conveyed to the mayor we need to replace him in some capacity,” said Kearns, “whether that means bringing back the captain’s rank to our T.O. or adding a seventh lieutenant.

“If I don’t have a second in command, it would be difficult for the other lieutenants to take direction from someone who is their equal in rank, without some type of understanding that that individual would be in charge in my absence and handling a lot of the department’s administrative duties.”

Even if the town were to persuade the state to go along with reviving the captain’s slot, the state’s next testing cycle for captain won’t be completed until 2017, Kearns noted, “so we’d be looking at 2018 or 2019 before we’d see a permanent appointment.”

There are existing state certified appointment lists for sergeant and lieutenant.

Fife said that he and Councilman James Doran, who serves as police chairman, are inclined toward adding an additional lieutenant but, to do that, the town needs approval from its state monitor.

“Ultimately,” said Harrison PBA President Sgt. Tom Corblies, “we’d want a captain there – that’s something we’re hoping to get back as part of the T.O. – but, as an interim step, we’d accept the town making an administrative lieutenant to handle the day-today operations and take some of the rigors off the chief.”

Some examples of those administrative functions, Corblies said, would include screening prospective police hirings, making sure any vacant spots are filled appropriately when officers are out sick or on vacation, and coordinating overtime assignments.

“We’re sad we’re losing Mike,” Roblies said. “He was fair with us, good to work with and he’ll be hard to replace.”

Unfortunately for the HPD, he added, it has to live with restrictions set by the state, notwithstanding the increasing need for municipal services from new residents moving into new developments being built on or near the waterfront redevelopment area. “DCA is holding the purse strings,” he said.

Green, who will be 47 by Dec. 1, will be eligible for an annual state Police & Firefighters Retirement System pension of $97,482, state Treasury Department records show.

A North Arlington resident, Green said he plans to enter the private sector as a security consultant next year.

Green joined the HPD in 1989, was promoted to sergeant in 1995, made lieutenant in 1997, captain in 2001 and deputy chief in 2005, returning to captain in 2010.

Among the many oversight administrative he performed as the second in command, Green said, were overseeing the six patrol lieutenants and detectives, grants and forfeiture funds, OSHA compliance, ordering of supplies, bulletproof vests, issuing press releases, applying for subpoenas, scheduling of officers’ court appearances, payroll and security liaison to the Red Bulls.

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