The new North Bergen Police

Four officers promoted as part of ongoing restructuring of department

Four police officers were promoted last week as part of an ongoing effort to restructure the police department to increase efficiency and better serve the township. David Corbisiero and Robert Farley, Jr. were both promoted to the rank of captain, while Alex Guzman and Jesus Fernandez were both promoted to lieutenant.
“They’re all very qualified. I know them all and I know they’re going to do a great job,” said Mayor Nicholas Sacco. “Ethnically we have two Latinos promoted out of the four. It reflects the demographic of the town and the fact that we hire from among our residents.”
“Of the four promotions today, we had two captains and two lieutenants,” said Public Safety Commissioner Allen Pascual, who oversees the Police Department, as well as EMS and other town services. “Traditionally we have three captains but we went to a fourth captain to oversee a community type policing and get more involved in the neighborhoods. So it’s a whole new model.”
The Community Policing Unit was established early this year as a way for officers to interact directly with residents on a daily basis and integrate more fully into the fabric of the community. Events like Coffee with a Cop and Fun with a Cop were held to familiarize children and residents with the officers, with the mission of forging greater ties to the community. The Community Policing Unit will now fall under the umbrella of the Problem Solving Division.

From three police divisions to four

The North Bergen Police Department traditionally had three divisions: Patrol, Investigative, and Administrative. With the new promotions a fourth department has been added: Problem Solving.
The Patrol Division is the most visible division, comprising the uniformed officers in the radio cars. Newly promoted Captain Corbisiero will be in charge of that division. “Corbisiero has been in Patrol for 19 years and there’s no better guy to run it,” said Police Chief Robert Dowd. “He’s been in Patrol his whole career.”
Corbisiero will take the place of Captain William Lyons, who is transferring from the Patrol division to head the Administrative Division, which handles training, payroll, human resources, the courts, the record room, and all other administrative functions.
The Investigative Division encompasses major crimes, narcotics, and all the investigative detective units. The command chain here remains unchanged, with Captain Patrick Irwin continuing to head that division.

The NBPD was expanded from three divisions to four, with the new Problem Solving division joining the Administrative, Investigative, and Patrol divisions.
The fourth division, Problem Solving, is brand new, and will be headed by newly promoted Captain Farley.
“Bob’s already been one of our biggest problem solvers in town,” said Dowd. “Whenever a complaint comes through the mayor’s office or the help desk and it’s police related, he inevitably handles it.”
A 19-year veteran of the department, Farley comes from a police family. His grandfather served with the police department for 38 years and his father served for 35 years. Both were deputy chiefs.
Farley’s father was among the many attendees at the promotion ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 9 in Town Hall chambers, along with family, friends, representatives from the sheriff’s office and police officers from other towns.

What is problem solving?

“Problem solving” is a broad term. To a certain extent, all policing is problem solving. So what does it mean in the context of the new division?
“It’s getting down to the ground and really hearing what’s going on in the community,” said Commissioner Pascual.
“We’re really more of a traditional based department or reactionary department,” said Dowd. “You call 911, we show up. We’re taking this to a different level. We’re going to actively engage citizens, find out what their complaints are, and attempt to resolve those complaints.”
In part, it all comes down to interactivity – between the police, the citizens, and the town itself. “The thing that I’ve personally learned in the last 22 years is that every time something happens in town, there’s always some type of police involvement,” said Dowd. “When town hall closes at 4 p.m. and most of the offices are closed, people inevitably call the police because they don’t know who else to call. It could be on a water leak. It could be on a code violation. It could be on things that have nothing to do with the police but we show up because we are the ones that are working.”
The Problem Solving Division will be tasked with helping to resolve all issues brought to the attention of the police, with the assistance of other town agencies. “Because in the end, the goal is for the resident or the visitor to have the best experience they can have here in North Bergen,” said Dowd. “Fundamentally, we want to fix your problem.”

An ongoing process

Pascual has been police commissioner for about four months, taking over from former Commissioner Theresa Ferraro, who passed away in March. As police commissioner he is in charge of hiring, firing, and promotions.
“When he first took over the department we sat at length for several meetings and I told him my vision of where I wanted to go with community policing and he loved the idea,” said Chief Dowd. “I recommended to him that we would need to restructure the department a little bit.”
Part of that restructuring included downsizing from two deputy chiefs to one. Deputy Chief Gerald Sanzari retired in December of 2014. (He now serves as executive director of the North Bergen Housing Authority.)
“I proposed we could lose the one deputy chief position, which saved a significant amount of money, and then add an extra captain,” said Dowd. “Not only would we have a cost savings, we would pick up the ability to really focus on community policing.”
The newly created position created an opening for one new captain, and the retirement of another captain left another vacancy. “That’s where Farley and Corbisiero stepped in, and that made a natural opening of two lieutenants for Guzman and Fernandez to move in,” said Dowd. “Now we need sergeants, maybe half a dozen. Because to me, the most important rank in the department is sergeant. They are the mentor and the trainer and the coach. They’re the first line supervisor. What we got today is incredible because it’s a command structure. And that’s important because they help create policy and enforce rules. But just as important, we want to promote some sergeants. We’re a young department. Supervision is critical. We need to make sure that people get the best quality service.”
New Jersey will be holding tests at the end of this year, after a hiatus of several years. Results should be available in the spring and at that point the department hopes to promote officers to the rank of sergeant.
Also upcoming are significant upgrades to the physical infrastructure of the police station. Bids have been secured for an overhaul of the building, to be completed with $400,000 in seized drug money, at no cost to taxpayers. A high-tech command center to be called CPIC (crime prevention and intelligence center) will be created on the second floor in the old courtroom.
“We’re going to use intelligence-led models, predictive analysis, and crime hotspot mapping, in combination with this community policing idea,” said Dowd. “Technology-fueled, but with neighborhood meetings to root out problems and disorder. To find out at the local level what is the biggest problem and complaint in your neighborhood.”
This is in conjunction with the technological upgrades that have been taking place throughout town, including the expansive CCTV system and automatic license plate readers.
“We have been working towards this,” said Dowd. “We’ve been infusing as much technology as possible. It’s a gradual process. You can’t do this overnight.”
The new technology is part of the ongoing evolution of the North Bergen Police Department. “If you’re going to change the culture of a department, most scholars will tell you it takes three to five years,” said Dowd. “This is my third year as chief. I’m taking us into this community policing model. This is all part of it. I’m getting the right people in the right place.”

Art Schwartz may be reached at

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