Edison adds first responders

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By JACQUELINE DURETT
Correspondent

EDISON — Public safety officials ended the year with the addition of five firefighters and nine police officers. They held a standing-room-only swearing-in Dec. 28 at the township’s municipal building.

Mayor Thomas Lankey, who swore in each of the new officials, addressed the township’s public safety goals.

“One of the things that we talked about doing when we came in was to make sure that our public safety was second to none. Our ranks were dwindling a little bit especially in the police department,” Lankey said. He added that the intent was to not only increase numbers, but also increase the standards as well.

The five new firefighters bring the ranks to 137; the township’s starting salary for firefighters is $36,587. The new firefighters are Darrin Bisogno, Christopher Connor, Mario Hamilton, Joseph Roco and Richard Schreck.

Fire Chief Brian Latham spoke of improvements the township is making to the fire department, explaining that with the addition of the five new firefighters, the township will be able to reinstate the team at Fire Station No. 5 in North Edison. Currently, a team has to come from the Clara Barton section to fight structure fires in North Edison. The No. 5 team was disbanded in 2011 for lack of manpower.

The township is also replacing fire equipment.

“I’m proud to say that probably by the end of 2017, all the front-line fire apparatuses in this town will be brand new,” he said.

Meanwhile, the nine new police officers will bring the department to 186 strong, the most it has had since 2011. In Edison, the starting salary for police officers is $50,000.

The township’s new police officers are a combination of new officers from police academies around the state, as well as experienced officers from other municipalities.

Many of the new hires have ties to the area and even the Edison police department.

Matthew Haley, who previously served in East Brunswick, joins his brother Michael, who joined the force two years ago and stood by Matthew’s side during his swearing-in. Shirley Dong is a former Edison auxiliary officer, and Scott Benedickson’s father and uncle are both retired Edison police officers. Matthew Eitel comes to Edison from a position on the South River force.

Rounding out the new class are Ankur Mankad, Michael Piperato, Harpinder Singh, Anthony Steneck and Stephen Susalla.

Police Chief Thomas Bryan spoke of his intent to continue improving the department which in recent years had been marred by various accusations of wrongdoing and multiple lawsuits.

“The residents of Edison deserve nothing less than the utmost respect and professionalism from our men and women in blue,” he said. “Together we as an organization and as individuals embark on this new journey together to overcome our challenges from our past and also take on what lies ahead in our future.”