They are appreciated

Photo by Ron Leir Kearny’s newest group of bluecoats are introduced to the community by Police Chief John Dowie at last week’s council session.
Photo by Ron Leir
Kearny’s newest group of bluecoats are introduced to the community by Police Chief John Dowie at last week’s council session.


Kearny’s newest police recruits, with tutelage by veteran cops, are undertaking patrol duties on local streets after having successfully completed their Police Academy training and taken the oath of office at last Tuesday’s meeting of the town’s governing body.

The 13 rookies are: Officers Jose Castillo, Alan Stickno, John Donovan, Andre Fernandes, Jose Perez-Fonseca, Daniel Lopez, Michael Alvarez, Darwin Paulino, Sean Wilson, Kyle Plaugic, David Bush, Michael Gontarczuk and Richard Poplaski Jr.

With the lucky 13 onboard, the KPD now has a complement of 109 members, but that’s still short of the 120 called for by town ordinance, officials said. Now that the newbies are out of the Academy, they go onto the first step of the PBA salary guide, a base pay of $41,282 a year.

Congratulating the newest members of the KPD, Police Chief John Dowie took the opportunity to remind them that their effort to establish a working relationship with their public constituency will not go unnoticed.

As evidence of that, Dowie produced a letter he received only last week from one young town resident who has paid close attention to local police activities.

John Kubowicz, a member of Kearny Cub Scout Pack 305, based at St. Stephen’s Church, wrote about the subject for the first essay competition sponsored by the Garden State Chapter of C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors) first Essay Competition, whose theme was “Why is Law Enforcement Important to Me?” The contest was open to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

C.O.P.S. is a nationwide nonprofit organization that helps family members of police officers killed in the line of duty.

John’s essay was the toprated submission from Boy Scouts in the state and he was awarded a $350 prize for his efforts. He and the other winners read their essays this past Saturday at Neptune High School’s Performing Arts Center during a ceremony hosted by the Garden State C.O.P.S. and N.J. State Police Survivors of the Triangle. The event also featured speeches by families of law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Here is the text of John’s essay:

“When I think about why I appreciate law enforcement, the first thought that comes to my mind is: what is there not to appreciate about them? I know I can walk to school and play sports without worry because the cops in my town are always doing their best to keep me safe.

Cub Scout John Kubowicz
Cub Scout John Kubowicz

“Since I am in the fifth grade [at Roosevelt School] this year, I participate in the L.E.A.D. [Law Enforcement Against Drugs] program [formerly known as D.A.R.E.]. One of our local police officers teaches us to make good choices and say no to drugs. He is a funny guy and I can tell he really cares. Not only does he live in Kearny, he coaches one of the street hockey teams in my league. It is really cool knowing that Officer [Jack] Grimm is a local guy who likes to help kids out in my town.

“My very own grandfather is a retired police officer. I know firsthand that he is brave and cares about always being fair and honest. I look up to him because I know he is a man of integrity. He coaches my Little League team. He has been coaching baseball in my town for over 30 years! It is easy for me to see that police officers not only want to keep our communities safe but they also like to give back to the town.

“I am lucky to live in a community that has police officers that keep me safe and truly care about my town. What’s not to appreciate?”

In another public safetyrelated matter, Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council settled with another employee group on a new labor contract. Under the four-year agreement, retroactive to 2015 and running through 2018, the town’s school crossing guards will get annual pay hikes of 1.5% for 2015 and 1.75% for each year thereafter.

Those employees already at maximum salary step (attained after five years on the job) will see their hourly pay climb, from $18.67 to $19.66 over the life of the contract.

Employees, represented by Kearny Civil Service Association, Council 11, ratified the contract terms before the meeting, according to Town Administrator Michael Martello, who said there are 26 regular guards and eight reserves. The reserves/substitutes’ hourly wage will go from $16.29, retroactive to 2015, to $17.16 in 2018.

The town also renewed its contract for environmental health specialist and animal control services with Bergen County Health Services for five years at annual escalating costs of $159,607 for 2016, $162,834 for 2017, $165,695 for 2018, $168,260 for 2019 and $170,852 for 2020.

Under this agreement, the county is responsible for inspections and enforcement of laws regulating sanitation of retail food establishments and food and beverage vending machines, sanitary operation of kennels, pet shops, shelters and pounds, youth camps safety standards, public recreational bathing, body art procedures, tanning facilities, child care centers, investigations of animal bites, stray animal patrol, housing and care, rabies control (including free vaccination clinics) and public health nuisance code enforcement.

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