Paterson NJ Police Chief Files Lawsuit Against Mayor

PATERSON — Police Chief Ibrahim Baycora accused Mayor Andre Sayegh trying to force him out of his job unfairly blaming him for Paterson’s spike in shootings and degrading him with verbal tirades and scathing emails.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in New Jersey Superior Court, Baycora also claimed that an unidentified city council member threatened to shoot him during the March 5 council meeting and that he was the only one. member of the Paterson Police Department for not receiving pay for dangerous duties. earlier this year for working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, Baycora accused the Sayegh administration of trying to thwart him last February by only providing him with half of the 30 officers he asked to be assigned to a special overtime unit meant to fight against violent crime.

Baycora’s lawsuit reflects the cataclysmic rift that has occurred between the mayor and his hand-picked choice for police over the past year. Just 30 months ago, Sayegh chose Baycora for the job, showering the new chef with praise and celebrating that he would be Paterson’s first Turkish and first Muslim chef. At the time of his nomination, political insiders noted that Baycora was backed for the job by Sayegh’s political supporters in South Paterson.

But within a year, Baycora was criticized by council members and community leaders for its unresponsiveness and by rank-and-file cops for personnel changes they said looked like retaliation against government allies. former leader, Troy Oswald. Baycora took a month-long vacation in late summer 2021 as Paterson’s homicide body counted towards what would become a new record.

Baycora said in the lawsuit that Sayegh deliberately humiliated the chief by copying the police department’s subordinates in an email in which the mayor described Baycora’s performance as “deplorable.”

“Mayor Sayegh then proceeded to disparage the Applicant and inform members of the PPD (Paerson Police Department) and influential members of the community that the Applicant was deplorable, his time was limited, and falsely suggested that the Applicant was the cause of the high crime rates in Paterson,” said Baycora’s lawsuit.

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Baycora did not respond to a message asking for additional information about the council member’s alleged threat to shoot him. The Sayegh administration also declined to comment, citing its policy of not commenting on ongoing litigation.

Baycora filed a lawsuit under New Jersey’s whistleblower law, claiming Sayegh retaliated against the chief in retaliation for Baycora’s complaints to the Passaic County District Attorney’s office and the office. from the New Jersey Attorney General regarding Paterson PBA President Alex Cruz. Baycora claimed Cruz committed ‘fraud’ or ‘wage theft’ by being paid by the city for allegedly working on the warrants team at the same time he received money for off-duty work such as traffic control.

Cruz did not respond to a message asking for his response to these allegations.

Baycora claimed that Cruz and Sayegh are “politically aligned,” citing as evidence Sayegh’s attendance at a PBA event in May and the mayor’s alleged claims in February that he was blocking the city’s police unions from taking action against Baycora.

The PBA and the Paterson Superior Officers Association had previously filed a federal lawsuit against Baycora in November 2020 accusing it of retaliation against them for successfully blocking certain job reassignments by investigating their president’s work hours. This trial is still pending.

Cruz is a longtime supporter of Sayegh’s former rival, convicted former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres. Cruz ran against Sayegh in the 2018 election with the support of some of Torres’ supporters.

Cruz is currently running on the Republican ticket for Passaic County Commissioner, along with Oswald. Sayegh has a long track record supporting Democrats in countywide political races.

Joe Malinconico is editor of Paterson Press. E-mail: [email protected]

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