Paterson, Prospect Park get funding to help hire more police officers
Paterson and Prospect Park are both receiving federal funding to hire more police officers. The funds are thanks to a bill recently signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Paterson will receive $4.2 million, which will allow the city to hire 20 more police officers.
“That’ll give us some opportunities to get some foot patrols in hotspots in commercial sectors,” says Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh. “So people see a presence. People want to see the police.”
Sayegh says that since 2011 when the city laid off 125 officers, officials have been working to regain those positions – but finding that money has not been easy.
Prospect Park Mayor Mohamad Khairullah says his community will see the addition of four more officers thanks to the funding. It will bring the total number of police officers up to 19.
“The fact that we were able to get that funding was a big surprise. We thought we’ll never get it, but the congressman came through,” the mayor says.
Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell had been pushing to pass the “Protecting America’s First Responders Act.” The funding goes a long way to helping police officers and firefighters.
The bill also provides retroactive benefits for first responders injured in the Sept. 11 attacks, full benefits for family members of first responders lost or severely sickened by COVID-19 and less red tape for families who lose a firefighter or police officer while on the job.
“It gives a lot of hope to families and people that have given up,” Pascrell says. “These are people too that are needed to continue to be breadwinners in some shape or form – not as a charity case, but this is our job to protect them.”
Police officer recruits are set to enter the police academy in January.
Mayor Sayegh says he hopes residents hear of these new hires and feel some level of comfort that their public safety is improving.