Passaic County Sheriff’S race goes unapposed

4 11 2007

Jerry Speziale* of Wayne is married and has three children. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville-Southern Police Institute and FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Academy. Speziale is the county’s full-time sheriff and has served in the elected post since 2002.

Greatest crime threat: “Every single crime committed in Passaic County” is important, Speziale said, especially to its victim. “However, I will agree that in this post-9/11 world, on the minds of most Americans are terrorism and the security of our homeland.”

Experience and perspective: Speziale says he’s “the first sheriff in Passaic County to have a law enforcement background,” with “more than 25 years of police experience at all levels of law enforcement, as a sworn officer, federal agent, division commander and chief executive.”

The constitutional powers of the Sheriff’s Department are to staff the county jail and courthouse, and execute warrants from county-based judges. How has the Sheriff’s Department come to perform many of the duties municipal police and county prosecutor’s staff also cover, such as fighting gangs and drug trafficking?

Speziale calls his department “unique” with “a wide range of constitutional responsibilities. … The department is responsible for the county police functions through legislation and regionalization, which include but are not limited to the county roads, parks, property and specialized support to the municipalities,” such as K-9, scuba, bomb squad, hazardous materials or SWAT functions, which many small local police departments are not equipped to handle.

Since Speziale took office in January 2002, his department’s budget has increased from $50 million to more than $75 million. By comparison, sheriff’s departments in Essex, Bergen and Morris have budgets of $20 million to $40 million. Why the higher cost in Passaic?

Speziale calls his department “rather a lean and efficient operation that provides outstanding services to the taxpayers. Inflation and contracts have the effect of increasing costs for everyone, from corporations to local governments to average households, as well as the county and the Sheriff’s Department. North



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