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Speziale: Records show no patronage violations

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

CVP EXCLUSIVE : Eight officers the state Civil Service Commission dubbed excess patronage by Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale put themselves through the academy, records show.

Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale


“I went up and interviewed the top ten of the class and that’s how they were selected,” Speziale told CLIFFVIEW PILOT , after the state Civil Service Commission claimed he exceeded his allotment of patronage appointments and should fire eight of the officers.

Media accounts claim Speziale himself wields the power to hire up to 15 percent of his officers — giving him tremendous power to secure loyaly.

A bit of digging, however, shows that the state statute for Investigators, covered under Title 40, doesn’t vest authority in making those appointments in the sheriff but in the county’s chief Assignment Judge.

The eight investigators recently hired are in addition to 20 others hired using Speziale patronage privilege, putting him over the 15 percent limit, the Commission says.

For the past 50 years, the CSC has based that 15 percent on ALL personal, including ranking officers, Speziale emphasized.

In this case, the sheriff said, the 15 percent was based solely on rank-and-file officers, excluding sergeants, lieutenants, captains and chiefs.

“As a result of their doing this I went to the Assignment Judge [Volkert] and asked for an opinion,” Speziale told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “His law clerk researched it and informed my office that the [protocal] for investigators was based on the entire staff which is Chief to Officer.”

This somehow was omitted from a local news account.

In this age of instant communication, media companies would have you believe that they employ the “professionals” best qualified to bring you news. Trouble is: They don’t have to take tests, or obtain any kinds of license of certifications.

So facts can be either conveniently or ignorantly left from stories — as with the Speziale story — and they bear no responsibility for the errors or misperceptions.

Speziale, who not-so-coincidentally is up for re-election in November, says his version is “the true story.

“I will take that under oath.”

The sheriff says he plans to take his case to court, even though county freeholders have said they won’t use taxpayer money for his defense. Should he win both the case and re-election, it will be interesting to see whether he goes after the newspaper, and what the results are.

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