City of Hackensack Forcing Officers Involved In Shootings To Go Into Involuntary Retirement

Six Hackensack police officers are being forced into retirement.

Six Hackensack police officers are being forced into retirement.

Hackensack Police Officers Being Forced Into Retirement

Hackensack, NJ –  Six Hackensack police officers are being forced into early retirement by the city they’ve served.  All six officers have been involved in either an officer-involved shooting or a fatal accident.

According to NorthJersey.com,  the City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, May 30, to follow through with involuntarily disability retirements for Hackensack Police Officers John Hermann, Elvin Hernandez, Alexander Lopez-Arenas, Keith Marrano, and Mohammad Sheikh.

A seventh police officer, Stephen Ochman, had initially been included with the group, but his application was tabled at Tuesday’s meeting.  The City Council claims that all six police officers are ‘unable to perform their duties.’

Police officers and residents filled the council chambers in protest and to stand with the officers.  Officer Elvin Hernandez addressed the council members at the meeting.  He was involved in the May, 2015 fatal shooting of Elvin Diaz, who is his distant relative.

He said, “That day changed me.  And for you guys to be doing this, you should be ashamed of yourselves.  I put my life on the line.”

That day started out as a routine probation check.  Officer Hernandez, along with Hackensack Police Sergeant Miguel Molina, shot Elvin Diaz after he attacked officers with a meat cleaver.  Diaz died from his injuries.  Officer Hernandez shot Diaz once, and Sergeant Molina shot him 10 times.

Officers Hermann, Lopez-Arenas, Marrano, and Sheikh were involved in the October, 2015 shooting of Jose Ronaldo Santos-Alvarez, who was wanted in the murders of his girlfriend and son.  He was cornered by the officers in a house, and Officer Sheikh shot him once in the abdomen.

Officer Ochman was involved in an April, 2016 car crash where John Parham, a Hackensack resident, died.  While en route to a motorcycle crash, Officer Ochman’s cruiser collided with Parham’s vehicle after his vehicle pulled out in front of the cruiser.

Once the applications are received, they have to be approved by the board of trustees for the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System.  If they’re approved, the officers would become eligible for disability retirement benefits based on the duration of their service.  Once approved, the officers cannot change or cancel the date of their retirement.

PBA President Frank Cavallo said that the council’s ‘pushing for involuntary disability retirement’ is ‘relatively uncommon’.  In a phone interview with NorthJersey.com, he said that “it hasn’t been handled like this in the past.”  He said “In the past, the city has covered them and their retirement.  They haven’t forced them into retirement.”

Officer Hernandez also said that City Manager Ted Ehrenburg had talked with him and ‘assured him that he would be taken care of’.  Ehrenburg confirmed to NorthJersey.com that he did have that conversation with Officer Hernandez but wouldn’t comment further.

The officers’s disability payments will be less than half of their full salary.

Law enforcement is one of the few professions where people are told to run towards somebody who will try to kill them. If any medical conditions result from the encounter, then the officer is left without the ability to provide a salary which can support their family.

It’s past time that we have a system which protects officers who are disabled in the line of duty.

Do you think that these officers are being treated fairly by their department? We’d like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.