Want to join the NBPD?

Department holds recruitment event

“I’ve wanted to be a cop for a while now, so I’m taking this opportunity to ask questions,” resident Feras J. said at the Police Department recruitment day in the public library on Wednesday Aug. 10. Members of the department went to both North Bergen library branches to help residents fill out a form to take a test for employment, the Law Enforcement Examination.

“The application is done online, and it can be filled out alone, but a lot of people have questions,” Officer William Brown said at the main library on Bergenline Avenue.

“We give them ways to prepare for the test; we show them keywords to look for, or what questions to hit first,” Officer Hector Rosa said.

Applicants to the North Bergen Police Department must be a U.S. citizen, be between 18 and 35 years old, be a high school or vocational school graduate, and have a valid NJ driver’s license.

After residents take the Law Enforcement Examination, they wait to get their results in the mail. Due to the high number of applicants, some may not get their results until 2017.

The top scorers go through an interview with the police chief, and if hired, move on to police training. The rest of the applicants will remain on the list for two years, and will be called for training if needed.

Appointees may be required to pass a medical and drug screening, psychological or psychiatric examinations, or background checks before academy training also. New hires are required to successfully complete and pass a six-month training program mandated by the NJ Police Training Commission. The police academy training consists of search and seizure, traffic laws, firearm training, driver training, and physical training. After training the new recruits are sworn in.

“We get training on bikes for one week,” Brown said.  According to Brown, everyone from the chief to the newest member has to qualify for gun training twice a year.

The department also offers free online classes that cover topics such as everyday law with law books, terrorism lessons, and bomb squad information.

The starting salary for a patrol officer is around $32,000 a year. Members of the department get up to five weeks paid vacation, and five personal days. Lifetime medical benefits include dental, prescription, and optical.

Brown said, “We’re losing officers to retirement, and [the city] wants to keep our numbers where they are.”

Racial diversity

In January, two civil rights groups, the Hispanic American Law Enforcement Association and the National Coalition of Latino Officers, criticized the North Bergen Police Department for the lack of Latinos in top leadership positions. Shortly after, NCLO President Antonio Hernandez said there was no evidence of a lack of Latinos after he met with Police Chief Robert Dowd to review statics.

In 1997 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had filed a lawsuit against the township and the Police Department, stating that both the hiring and promotional processes were racially biased. The lawsuit and subsequent litigation put a temporary halt on any new hiring as well as any further promotions. After the lawsuit with the NAACP was settled two years later, the Police Department went back to offering promotional tests once again, and some officers retook the tests.

According to the North Bergen Police Department’s 2015 Annual Report, 55 percent of the department is Latino, and 45 percent are non-Latinos.

“The majority of residents here are Hispanic,” Brown noted. “This is a hiring process is based on residency.”

Hiring residents

Brown noted, “We hire residents, because to be a resident means you understand the environment. You know your neighbors, friends from high school, and eventually you might be called to a job and see one of them. I grew up here, so it’s nice to see someone I know personally while out there.”

“A couple of my friends became cops, and I’m growing up now,” said resident Nas K., 21, on why he came out to apply. “It’s what I saw myself doing, and recently being out of college it felt more real.

According to Nas, one of his friends in Ridgefield became a cop, and his cousin in Florida became one also. Nas said he went to Hudson County Community College for a liberal arts degree.

Feras said, “I’ve been part of the town for 30 years, it’s time I take this opportunity to apply and ask questions. I’ve done a lot of research, and it’s a good job with good benefits. Officer Brown has been helpful with tips. I applied by myself online before, but this is the first time I’ve seen police here for it. I asked if I can also apply to other counties.”

According to Brown, there’s room for advancement if an officer is constantly training.

“If you’re here, it’s because this is the career path you’ve chosen,” Brown said. “We want these residents to one day work with us and the people of North Bergen. It’s rewarding to give back to the community, and now residents have an opportunity to give back also.”


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