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Prospect Park PBA Issues ‘Vote of No Confidence’ to Mayor, City Councilmembers

Prospect park

By: Richard L. Smith 

The following is a statement released by Prospect Park PBA Local 114's President Gregory Williams in Passaic County on Monday, February 27, 2023: 

"The members of the Prospect Park Policeman's Benevolent Association Local 114 have issued a VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in the abilities of Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah, Council President Mohammed Hussain, Councilwoman Felicia Ortiz, Councilman Robert Artis, Councilman Anand Shah, and Councilwoman Esther Perez, to effectively and impartially, govern, lead, and provide the proper staffing, equipment, and funding for the Prospect Park Police Department.

The PBA has addressed multiple violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement directly to Mayor Khairullah and Borough Administrator Intashan Chowhury, on countless occasions, with manpower shortages being of the utmost importance.

We have received little to no response or action to rectify said shortage. The Mayor has continually and unprofessionally reminded the PBA that he is the "APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY" and that he alone makes any and all personnel decisions at his leisure.

Mayor Khairullah continually rebuffs the union's efforts to discuss its concerns to this date.

 

Camp The police department was granted a federal COPS Grant of $500,000 to hire four (4) Police Officers in early November 2021, which the Mayor failed to fully utilize. The total cost of the first year for hiring four (4) Police Officers would have cost the Borough's taxpayers $50,000.

Instead, Mayor Khairullah failed to adequately staff the police department or utilize the COPS grant over the past several years. The police department's overtime cost was at a record high in 2022, exceeding $160,000 in taxpayer dollars.

Much of this overtime was officers being ordered in for duty constantly on their days off against their wishes.

This caused them to be overworked and mentally and physically drained. This jeopardized the safety of our officers and the public at large. The members were also unable to utilize their allotted time off reasonably.

Over the last two years, this has caused the morale within our police department to plummet to an all-time low. Additionally, not only did this severely impact the police department's confidence, but it was also an egregious mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.

The PBA is aware that the police administration has addressed these issues and concerns directly, both verbally and in writing to the Mayor and the Borough Administrator countless times to no avail.

The entire membership attended the February 6, 2023, Mayor and Council meeting to stand in solidarity due to the position of a Police Director being proposed as a topic of discussion. The membership publicly addressed Mayor Khairullah and the governing body in their full opposition to creating a Police Director position.

The PBA further expressed to the governing body that we have been severely understaffed for the past two years. The staffing levels are DANGEROUSLY low due to several upcoming retirements in 2023.

The PBA then pleaded to the governing body that filling the Police Department's Table of Organization should be of its utmost priority far before entertaining the creation of a needless Police Director.

 

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The members wanted to formally advise the governing body there was a problem in the police department and to seek assistance in solving that problem, but no action has been taken.

All the members' concerns were never addressed, and the governing body has now proceeded to the creation of a resolution to hire a Police Director at the Borough Council Meeting on February 27, 2023, which was passed via a council 5-1 with ONLY Councilman Ala Matari abstaining.

This act will uselessly spend even more taxpayer dollars to obtain and fulfill Mayor. Khairullah's agenda of total Dictatorial control.

The PBA believes that the creation of this position is solely for the pleasure of the Mayor to have an indirect say in the police department's day-to-day operations. The political appointment of a Police Director is the first in this department's history.

The PBA is aware that no jurisdiction other than major cities and universities utilizes the position of Police Director to manage their respective department's needs. It is evident that this is Mayor Khairullah's way to avoid violating the New Jersey State Title 40 laws by interfering with the day-to-day operations of the police department, which he has done countless times during his tenure as Mayor.

The Police Director position is entirely unnecessary and interferes with advancing and directing all members' careers and families' futures. The Mayor has deliberately created an increasingly hostile and toxic work environment jeopardizes our members' mental and physical health. Using his approach through his Borough Administrator, the PBA is aware that multiple employees of the Mayor's municipal staff share our members' concerns.

The Borough has seen a revolving door-like atmosphere in staffing over the past few years, both on the police department and municipal employee end.

This also resulted in needless litigation against the Borough, again creating useless taxpayer-dollar spending. We have lost valuable officers and municipal staff due to the state of morale, which led to a dysfunctional and harassing workplace directly created by Mayor Khairullah and Borough Administrator Chowdhury.

The members of the BA have seen first-hand that Mayor Khairullah only moves swiftly in hiring personnel or promoting personnel of his choice when a political gain is at stake.

He does not take the need for PROPER police staffing for the righteousness of public safety or the safety of the police department into consideration. The PBA strongly believes that Mayor Khairullah's agenda of hiring qualified or UNQUALIFIED personnel is solely based on politics.

The only opposition to this declaration was the fear many of our members expressed regarding future acts of retaliation perpetrated by the Mayor because of this action. We believe that fact, in and of itself, speaks volumes regarding the current climate within our police department.

The PBA has become aware that the Mayor utilizes these same tactics to influence the way his Council proceeds with their voting on many agendas to achieve his goal of complete and total control.

We, as a union, have concluded that Mayor Khairullah largely fails to recognize any authority outside of himself or his position, therefore, issuing this VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in him.

The PBA no longer feels confident that Mayor Khairullah is motivated or fit to serve the police department impartially and only knows the way of the autocrat. It's my way or the highway approach.