Pre-elec­tion meet­ing set ground­work for po­lice and mayor re­la­tion­ship

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - L.A. Parker Colum­nist L.A. Parker is a Tren­to­nian colum­nist. Reach him at la­parker@tren­to­nian.com. Fol­low him on Twit­ter@ la­parker6.

As the 2014 may­oral elec­tion moved to­ward a runoff be­tween Eric Jack­son and Paul Perez, can­di­dates searched for union sup­port that could de­ter­mine the out­come.

PBA Lo­cal 11 had not en­dorsed a may­oral can­di­date for the May 13 gen­eral elec­tion but ten days af­ter Jack­son had topped a can­di­dates’ bal­lot as the top vote re­ceiver, po­lice sided with Jack­son for the runoff.

The en­dorse­ment came af­ter Jack­son had met with Ernie Par­rey, Jr., PBA Lo­cal 11 Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Dzurkoc and Michael Walker, a po­lit­i­cal gad­fly prac­ticed at the art of public speak­ing. The prom­ises made in that meet­ing may not ever come to light, but one can pre­sume from the out­come what deals were struck.

Walker, a vo­cal po­lice sup­porter, fre­quently show­cased his speak­ing skills dur­ing city coun­cil meet­ings, as histri­on­ics turned public speak­ing seg­ments into open-mic frenzy.

Walker moved up the po­lit­i­cal food chain that he helped ar­range the pre-runoff elec­tion sum­mit as Par­rey, Jack­son and Dzurkoc al­legedly mapped out the fu­ture as po­lit­i­cal car­tog­ra­phers. Par­rey would even­tu­ally gain his dream job as po­lice di­rec­tor while Jack­son claimed a po­lice en­dorse­ment.

An­other pre­sumed pro­viso promised that Jack­son could count on po­lice brass to not wage a re­lent­less neg­a­tive cam­paign against him, a com­mon prac­tice among rank and file when they found dis­sat­is­fac­tion with a po­lice di­rec­tor.

For­mer Tren­ton po­lice Di­rec­tor Ralph Rivera suf­fered se­vere push­back from of­fi­cers and union of­fi­cials although his per­se­cu­tion paled in com­par­i­son to Joseph San­ti­ago.

San­ti­ago, a Mayor Dou­glas H. Palmer ap­pointee in 2003, re­ceived a con­stant flow of at­tacks sent to his home com­puter and mail­box. Po­lice of­fi­cers fol­lowed him around town, one time even slapped the di­rec­tor with a ticket when his car landed in an il­le­gal park­ing space near Mar­silio’s Restau­rant in the city’s Cham­bers­burg sec­tion.

Par­rey rep­re­sented the al­leged per­fect choice as po­lice wanted a leader who had moved up through the ranks un­like out­siders like San­ti­ago and Rivera.

Par­rey, a Tren­ton native who served on the city’s po­lice force from 1986 to 2011, when he re­tired as cap­tain, checked all the re­quire­ment boxes to take con­trol of the city’s po­lice force, in­clud­ing be­ing Cau­casian.

Dzurkoc ex­pressed plea­sure to sup­port and en­dorse Jack­son. He praised Jack­son as a man who un­der­stood of­fi­cers’ roles in keep­ing res­i­dents safe.

South Ward Coun­cil­man Ge­orge Mush­cal, a re­tired po­lice of­fi­cer with 39 years on the city’s force, called Par­rey an “ex­cel­lent choice” to raise depart­ment morale.

“We need some­one who was born and raised in Tren­ton and climbed the ranks within this po­lice depart­ment to come up with a plan on how to stop crime. Par­rey will lead the po­lice depart­ment in the right di­rec­tion.”

Jack­son de­feated Perez in a June runoff and on July 1, shortly af­ter his in­au­gu­ra­tion, Par­rey claimed the po­lice di­rec­tor job.

Jack­son has en­joyed no po­lice con­dem­na­tion while Par­rey en­joys ser­vice as the clos­est thing this city has seen to a po­lice chief since a 1999 ref­er­en­dum re­moved that po­si­tion and al­lowed Palmer and may­ors to fol­low to pick his di­rec­tor.

Ac­co­lades have faded as po­lice ousted Dzurkoc as PBA Lo­cal 11 pres­i­dent while Par­rey re­mains un­der fire for a “hood rats” de­scrip­tion of black men seen on Lam­ber­ton St.

A na­tional investigation iden­ti­fied a Tren­ton as the fourth most dan­ger­ous for youth gun vi­o­lence.

The Par­rey term in­cludes sev­eral high pro­file cases in­clud­ing al­le­ga­tions of po­lice bru­tal­ity and a law­suit that claimed a city K-9 Unit al­lowed a dog to un­nec­es­sar­ily at­tack a man.

Par­rey be­lieves the po­lice depart­ment has made Tren­ton safer. He points to con­nec­tion with com­mu­nity through Hal­loween Trunk or Treat events, and a Half­way to Hal­loween sum­mer party.

The Di­rec­tor says his lead­er­ship and po­lice ini­tia­tives have re­moved hun­dreds of guns and vi­o­lent crim­i­nal from Tren­ton streets.

Par­rey’s re­cent tu­mul­tuous af­fairs may ren­der him re­place­able although Jack­son will court again PBA Lo­cal 11 sup­port.

Jack­son also ex­pressed sup­port for Par­rey, his hands cuffed by the Pat’s Diner deal.

Perez, a likely may­oral can­di­date, has called for Par­rey’s res­ig­na­tion.

TREN­TO­NIAN FILE PHOTO

Tren­ton Po­lice Di­rec­tor Ernest Par­rey speaks as city and law en­force­ment lead­ers talk about com­bat­ting vi­o­lence in the City.

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