As the President of the Hoboken Policemen’s Benevolent Association, I feel compelled to reply to Mr. Kurt R. Gardiner’s letter last week.
I strongly disagree with his comparison and position. Hoboken is not Independence, Missouri and any comparison with respect to policing in both these cities is ridiculous. Hoboken is unique and the complexities of police this city of ours cannot be compared to any one town anywhere in the nation. Independence, Missouri, is a 79 square mile, 114,000 person (that is only 1,446 people per square mile) city, with only 6 percent of the population below the poverty line, which has its main attractions to be their seven libraries and three Gospel festivals.
As per the 2000 Census, Hoboken had 39,000 people in 1.3 square miles, making Hoboken the fourth most densely populated city in the country. Hoboken has 11 percent of its population under the poverty line, nearly double the rate compared to Independence. Note: Today’s probable factual population numbers of Hoboken is near 50,000 people. A general study conducted by the Jersey Journal last month reported a 5.1 percent population growth increase since the 2000 Census.
Hoboken is the 2nd largest transportation city in New Jersey, behind Newark. Hoboken has close to 150,000 commuters pass through its boundaries daily.
Hoboken is also the second largest nightlife attraction in New Jersey behind Atlantic City.
The Hoboken Police Department averages 64,000 calls for service annually. That averages out to 175 calls per day or seven calls per hour and the average time an officer spends on a call is 20-30 minutes. However, if that call is a motor vehicle accident (of which we responded to 1,923 in 2007), domestic disputes, fights, robberies, burglaries, gun calls, thefts or other more involved investigation the average time can easily exceeds 1 hour. The average time spent on arrests and processing of such approaches two hours and can easily exceed three hours from beginning to end. (From August 1, 2007 to August 1, 2008 a total of 1,677 arrests were attend to.)
Theoretically speaking; If our present staffing is 8 officers per 8 hour work shift (HPD has three uniform patrol shifts: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., 4p.m. -12 a.m. & 12 a.m. – 8 a.m.) and the average calls per hour is eight and the average time spent on a single call by a single officer is one hour, that would leave no officers within any given hour to be available to protect and patrol an entire city. Pretty scary, isn’t it! But it is close to reality now.
We are not immune for crime spillover from neighboring cities into ours. I have predicted that crime would rise in our city and it has. I predicted that being understaffed by 19 police officers would contribute to this increase and it has. These are predictions I only wish didn’t come true but unfortunately they have.
I am willing to address any questions our residents might have regarding what we do. Please feel free to contact me any time. I can be reached at: 201-798-1820.
Vince Lombardi, President
Hoboken Policemen’s Benevolent Association