West New York’s police force got stronger by four last week when a ceremony was held welcoming a group of new officers to the department.
West New York Police Department Deputy Chief Thomas O’Donnell was joined by West New York Mayor Albio Sires, Commissioner of Public Safety Larry Riccardi, West New York Police Director Joseph Pelliccio and a host of police officials and family members in welcoming the new officers to the force.
Taking the oath of office last week were police officers Leonel Abreu, Robert Leon, Jesus Vargas and Wendell Oms. The West New York Police Department has been on a hiring tear as of late. With the retirement of many sergeants and captains, room has been made for new officers to be hired. These latest hires complete a group of seven officers that have been hired in the last few months.
All Hudson County police officers are trained at the Passaic County Police Academy in Wayne, as Hudson County does not currently possess a training academy. The training is approximately six months in duration. According to the academy’s web site, "The classes are presented to enhance the professionalism, ethics and knowledge of the officers to better provide communities with police officers proficient in their duties."
Deputy Chief O’Donnell opened the ceremony by welcoming the new officers and assuring them that they are "about to join an excellent police department with a rich, proud history going back over a hundred years."
Commissioner of Public Safety Larry Riccardi, who took over the reins of the police department recently from fellow West New York Commissioner "Sal" Vega, came to the podium in his good-natured way. He congratulated the new officers and echoed Deputy Chief O’Donnell’s assuredness when he said, "This force you’re about to join is second to none. It works as a team, everyone works together."
Riccardi also thanked Sires for his willingness to spend money on the police department. Said Riccardi, "I’d also like to thank our mayor for all the help he gives us. Whenever we go begging with hat in hand, he never refuses us. After 9/11, it’s a completely different ballgame. We all have to be ready for anything and I know you all will be."
Police Director Joseph Pelliccio was effusive in his praise of not only the new officers but of the department in general.
Said Pelliccio, "I’d like to echo what has already been said. These officers are joining the best police department ever. This police department is second to none."
Pelliccio continued, "I’d also like to say to the new officers that along the way, there will be challenges, but I want you all to know that you are never alone. We, your superiors and fellow officers are here to help you. Don’t try to go it alone. And I am very proud to say that we heard nothing but high praise from the people at the Passaic Police Academy about you. Congratulations."
Interestingly, the majority of the new officers are natives of Hoboken, something which West New York Mayor Albio Sires alluded to in a joking manner later in the ceremony.
Officer Leonel Abreu is a graduate of Hoboken High School and served in the Navy for five and a half years and remains on the Naval Reserves.
Officer Robert Leon was born in Hoboken and is a graduate of Memorial High School in West New York. Leon is a Marine veteran of the Gulf War and has a 6-year-old son.
Officer Jesus Vargas was born in New York City and a graduate of Hoboken High School and has spent the last few years as a Hudson County Sheriff’s Officer.
Officer Wendell Oms was born in Hoboken and is a graduate of St. Joseph’s of the Palisades High School in West New York. Oms holds a degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University and has been a state Corrections officer before joining the West New York Police Department.
After being sworn in by Town Clerk Carmela Riccie, keynote speaker Albio Sires approached the podium. "How did we wind up with so many people from Hoboken?" he asked. "Seriously though, this is a proud day. This is a fine department and it just keeps getting better. There may be days that seem easy to you, but then you’ll have days like the recent blackout where the department was asked to perform above and beyond the call of duty. I am so proud of how the police department handled the blackout."
Continued Sires, "Remember, we are close to the frontlines. We are close to the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, we are close to the [George] Washington Bridge. We are close to the main lines that go into the city, so we always have to be ready."
After the ceremony, officer Leonel Abreu summed up his feelings when he said, "I’ve been waiting a while for this. It’s an honor and a privilege."
Officer Wendell Oms said, "It’s a dream come true. I’ve been wanting to do this since the second grade. I am honored to be serving this community."