Judge to Rule on County Police Merger Challenge
Decision set for Friday afternoon.
A judge is expected to rule Friday afternoon on a suit filed by the Bergen County executive to block a ballot question asking if the county police should be merged with the sheriff’s office and an ordinance that would disband the police department.
The freeholder board voted 4-2 at an August special meeting to move ahead with an ordinance to dissolve the county police and a non-binding referendum on the proposed merger. County Executive Kathleen Donovan challenged the votes, arguing the freeholders lacked authority to eliminate a county agency and the referendum vote was improper because it did not happen a regular board meeting.
Superior Court Judge Menelaos Toskos said Thursday the law required a referendum to be introduced at a regular meeting, northjersey.com reported. Freeholder Attorney Richard Malagiere argued the board tried to introduce the measures at a public meeting, but lacked quorum.
Legal arguments focused on the power of the freeholders and county executive, the report said. Both sides agreed that the county executive and freeholders can’t unilaterally disband the department.
Referendums should come by ordinance, which the county executive can veto, Donovan Administration attorney Thomas Scrivo argued, according to an NJ.com report.
Toskos has denied Donovan’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the ordinance and resolution.
Freeholders have been holding a “listening tour” around the county to gather public input on the proposed merger. At a meeting in Westwood, residents expressed support for the merger but also sought more specifics.
Sheriff Michael Saudino told The Record the 89-member county police department could be folded into his agency at a cost savings and without layoffs, but offered no specifics.
- Freeholders Vote to Dissolve Bergen County Police
- Donovan Sues Freeholders to Stop County Police Merger
- Bergen Residents Want Details on County Police Merger
- Two Freeholders Plan ‘Listening Tour’ on County Police Merger
- Donovan, Saudino Spar As Task Force Rejects Cutting County Police
- The Fight Over The Future Of A $22 Million Police Department