PATERSON - Two dozen special Paterson police officers hit the streets Monday to help address quality-of-life concerns in the city.
Paterson Mayor Joey Torres and Police Director Jerry Speziale say the 25-member squad of Class-1 special officers is the next step in bettering Paterson.
The officers will address quality-of-life issues around the city, allowing regular police officers to focus on more serious crimes. They won't carry guns, but they will be able to carry mace, batons and will wear bulletproof vests.
"They have law-enforcement duties. They can write tickets and do traffic enforcement and crowd control," says Mayor Torres.
These officers will also deal with such issues as public drinking, noise complaints or public urination; anything that would bother the public.
Director Speziale says the program is all about the "broken window theory." By having special officers dedicated to enforcing quality-of-life issues, it will hopefully deter people from committing more serious crimes.
"The broken window theory is about, if you leave a broken window or blight, it allows the community to think this is acceptable," Speziale explains. "By using these Class-1 special officers to handle those issues, it allows the public to know that this is not acceptable."
The Class-1 officers will specifically patrol Paterson's parks and downtown business district
In the near future, the special officers will ride in ATVs. They are also trained to use Narcan, an anti-overdose spray.