Police angry after Jersey City mayor shuts down off-duty pay program

JERSEY CITY, NJ — Fallout from a federal investigation has prompted Jersey City’s mayor to shut down a police program that lets off duty officers earn extra cash.

Mayor Steven Fulop said the whole operation is flooded with corruption. But union leaders say this decision hurts morale among the rank and file, the majority of whom did nothing wrong.

“We all want to end corruption,” Jersey City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Carmine Disbrow said. “We’re all willing to work and sit down to come up with solutions. I think the worst solution is to just dissolve the program."

But officials believe wrongdoing was so rampant that a shut down is the only solution.

“The misconduct was so widespread that I would challenge that any member of the Jersey City Police Department was unaware,” Public Safety Director James Shea said.

Federal investigators charged 11 officers, including a former police chief, with fraud. Some have pleaded guilty to filling out time sheets for hours they never worked.

Under the program, police officers can earn extra by patrolling construction sites, road projects, schools or public housing during their off duty hours. They are paid by outside entities, such as the construction company running the job site. But the city says the $16 million program has operated at a loss to the city for years.

"We’re not going to tolerate any sort of corruption,” Fulop said. “We thought this program was corrupt on so many different facets that the only outcome that was acceptable to us and we think responsible for the Jersey City taxpayers and residents and of the future of the Jersey City Police Department is to end the program in it’s entirety."

The mayor is giving police 6-12 months to dissolve the program. Officials said more arrests are coming.