Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hackensack police director makes sweeping changes

Hackensack Police Director Mike Mordaga, who took over on Feb. 4, has launched initiatives to improve residents' quality of life.

Does anybody envy Hackensack Police Director Mike Mordaga, who is trying to resuscitate the reputation of a department that was virtually destroyed by Ken "I Am The Law" Zisa, the disgraced former police chief and state Assemblyman?

Since he took over on Feb. 4, Mordaga has moved to make big changes -- from requiring more formal police uniforms with hats to boosting crime patrols to coping with all of the homeless drawn by free meals at the Bergen County shelter on South River Street.

The highly decorated Mordaga rose from beat cop to detective, and ran the Hackensack Police Department's investigative division before leaving in 2002 to become chief of detectives at the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

In the 5 years he was there, seizures of money, cars and other ill-gotten gain from suspects totaled about $26 million, far above the level of previous foreitures, Mordaga said.

Fighting crime

In Hackensack, he is pairing a county sheriff's officer with a city policeman in a police cruiser, and sending them out on patrol to fight crime, including street robberies.

"Residents shoud be able to walk on the street without fear," Mordaga said.

Mordaga noted his officers are spending a lot of time driving homeless people to the emergency room at Hackensack University Medical Center, and he would like to see the hospital assign staff to a room at the homeless shelter.

He also needs more police cars, and wonders why the tax-exempt HUMC can't donate a couple of them to the department in lieu of property taxes. 

Welcome crackdown

Mordaga also is attacking numerous moving violations by drivers in Hackensack, noting the department issued a couple of hundred more summonses this March than it did in March 2012.  

Victor E. Sasson, editor of Eye on The Record, met with Mordaga late this morning at police headquarters on State Street.  

It's unclear why the changes he discussed haven't been reported in The Record.

Gottlieb bombs again

Editor Marty Gottlieb should have given the biggest play on Page 1 today to a move by Bergen County freeholders to water down the county's pay-to-play law, not the bombing in Boston (A-1).

The Mike Kelly column about the placing of "flowers and teddy bears" in memory of an 8-year-old boy killed by the terrorist bombing sounds exactly like the one he wrote after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut (A-1).

Dissing Hackensack 

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes ordered follow-ups to Tuesday's school board elections in Englewood and Secaucus (L-1 and L-3), but nothing more about Hackensack's contest.

In Secaucus, two losing incumbents complained they were defeated by the Hudson County "political machine."

But no one asked the losing Hackensack incumbent and her two running mates, who also were defeated,  to characterize the victory of three puppets whose strings are pulled by Lynne Hurwitz, queen of the city's Democratic Party and mistress of machine politics in Hackensack.

However, Sykes made sure to find room for another filler photo of yet another tractor-trailer on its side (L-3).

More free advertising

In Better Living, a lavish cover story by Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill continues the paper's promotional coverage of chefs and restaurant owners, ignoring the dark side of dining out (BL-1).

Saru Jayaraman, author of "Appetite for Profit," has called the National Restaurant Association "the other NRA," referring to the millions of dollars spent to lobby Congress and keep the federal minimum wage for tipped workers at $2.13 an hour.

That has set up one of the biggest scams going: Putting the onus on customers to tip well and elevate servers to a living wage.
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