Council adopts director of Public Safety ordinance

| 12 Jul 2012 | 11:46

WEST MILFORD — After months of sometimes heated discussion and several revisions, the township council unanimously agreed on the ordinance that lists the qualifications and duties of the director of public safety.

This came on June 27, just days before the retirement of West Milford Police Chief Gene Chiosie on July 1. The council tabled his appointment to the unpaid position of director of Public Safety in April; days later he announced his retirement. At the time, the council said it wanted to clarify the qualifications listed in the ordinance, which amends and supplements Chapter 15, "Administration of Government," of the town code.

All agreed that the police chief is the best qualified person for the position.

It started last year when Mayor Bettina Bieri appointed then-acting Chief Chiosie to the permanent position in October. She did not include director of Public Safety in the appointment because, she said, she found a section in the code that abolished the position altogether. The council passed an amendment reestablishing the position in March, thereby correcting the conflict in the code. Councilman Joseph Smolinski voted against the amendment, saying the new amendment could open the way for an inexperienced civilian, a political paid appointment to be the director of Public Safety. Bieri disagreed and said it was unlikely to happen since it would take both the mayor to nominate someone and four councilmembers to agree to do it.

Township attorney Fred Semrau said the amendment corrects an oversight from 2004 when the township changed its form of government. The two conflicting sections remained in the code and this amendment resolved it.

Smolinski suggested that qualifications and duties be outlined.

The chief of police is the mayor's appointment; director of Public Safety is the mayor's nomination with the advice and consent of the council.

In May, the council agreed on a list of qualifications and duties for the position of director of Public Safety. They include:

U.S. citizenship high school graduate

possess a minimum of a two-year degree in criminal justice, fire science or related field, a four-year degree preferred

appropriate background check minimum of 10 years' experience in professional law enforcement (at least 5 of them at a supervisory level)

experience with the fire department or emergency management preferred

EMT and CPR certification preferred

knowledge and basic skills in the operation of various fire and emergency medical apparatus

ability to prepare memoranda and reports that may be used in a court of law

ability to prepare and administer an annual budget

enact and enforce departmental policies, rules procedures

With Chiosie now retired, the mayor will appoint a new chief and, with council consent, a director of Public Safety. Last year, both Chiosie and Captain Tim Storbeck passed the chief's test. Chiosie told The Messenger the department would be in good hands if Storbeck gets the position.