PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) — In a fiery press conference on Tuesday, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh held little back as he outlined the reasons he decided to fire Police Chief Ibrahim Baycora after just two years on the job.
“A police chief does not have the right to remain silent when gun violence is surging in your city,” Sayegh said, claiming Baycora had no plan, vision or strategy when it came to a recent uptick in violence.
The mayor says he grew frustrated with Baycora for being what he describes as “radio silent” as the city tackled a wave of violence where as many as 75 homicides happened during his tenure.
Last summer as the city was addressing a surge in shootings, Baycora, city officials said, took a month-long vacation.
“I indicated to him that his performance was beyond disappointing,” Sayegh said. “It is deplorable and he knows it because I told him repeatedly.”
What’s worse, according to Sayegh, the chief would regularly fall asleep during critical cabinet meetings involving public safety.
PIX11 News obtained a photo that officials say appears to show Baycora dosing off at the city’s inauguration in July.
“I thought it was shameful that a police chief wouldn’t even take a swearing in ceremony seriously,” Sayegh said.
Baycora’s termination was announced just four days after the embattled chief reportedly filed a lawsuit against Sayegh and the city, claiming they were forcing him out and unfairly placing blame on him for the uptick in violence.
However, according to the mayor, Baycora was put on notice in February and even agreed to a retirement package.
“He agreed to everything. He just inexplicably decided not to sign,” Sayegh said.
Despite the administrative hiccup, the city vows to forge ahead.
“I want to assure the public that we will not skip a beat,” Jerry Speziale, public safety director, said at Tuesday’s press conference.
Baycora did not immediately respond to PIX11 News’ request for comment.
In wake of the shuffle in leadership in the Paterson Police Department, Deputy Chief Engelbert Ribeiro will assume the role of acting chief until a permanent replacement is found.