Public safety is very much on the minds of Jersey City’s administration, given the continued commitment to spend big bucks primarily for electronic surveillance measures for the safety of the public and for its top civil servants, notably the mayor.

Evidence of that commitment came June 28 as the City Council voted for a legislative package awarding a series of big contracts to Millennium Communications Group Inc., of East Hanover.

The city will pay Millennium a total of $498,343 to upgrade surveillance cameras at eight street intersections in the city’s southern section: Ocean and Danforth Avenues ($61,537); Rose and McAdoo Avenues ($48,455); Garfield and Stegman Avenues ($54,234); West Side and Clinton Avenues ($86,745); Garfield and Neptune Avenues ($54,114); West Side and Virginia Avenues ($83,407); Stegman Street and Ocean Avenue ($46,540); and Martin Luther King Drive and Virginia Avenue ($63,308).

Millennium has until Jan. 31, 2026, to complete the work which the administration has labeled “Phase 7” of an ever-growing eye-in-the-sky network that Mayor Steven Fulop launched soon after taking office, deploying high-definition 5-megapixel CCTV cameras.

Fulop has said the surveillance cameras are placed in areas with “historically high crime rates.”  Typically, four camera units are mounted at an overhead site, covering four perspectives at a given street corner and often a fifth rotating unit to track movements of a suspect. 

Prior phases targeted public housing sites and public parks citywide. The city has tapped federal and state public safety funding programs designed for urban areas and its municipal capital budget to finance its anti-crime camera system and Millennium has been its go-to vendor

On June 28, the council also contracted with Millennium to install upgraded CCTV cameras at seven intersections along Communipaw Avenue for a total of $347,067 between now and Jan. 31, 2026

Those intersections, and individual costs, are listed as: Van Horne Street ($43,723), Garfield Avenue ($52,779), Grand Street ($54,311), Manning Street ($46,989), Crescent Street ($60,652), Halladay Street ($46,602) and Pacific Avenue ($52,009). All of these locations are along the city’s Bergen-Lafayette corridor, which is attracting new development. 

A separate contract awarded Millennium calls for the firm to provide “security upgrades” at the city’s Lewis S. McRea Justice Complex at 365 Summit Avenue for a total of $569,127 between now and Dec. 31, 2023. These improvements are to include “access control, turnstiles, x-ray machines and metal detectors.”

Additionally, the council retained SaferWatch, of Pompano Beach, Fla., to assist with the court modifications by installing a mobile panic alert system there at a cost of $25,600 as well as at City Hall for $8,800 and to provide “executive protection” for the mayor and two other unnamed individuals for $4,500 for a total contract price of $38,900.

City administrators offered no explanation, nor did council members raise questions, about these security measures.  

The Millennium security-related contracts were awarded without public bidding, which the city administration says it can do under state law NJSA 52:34-6.2, which “authorizes a municipality to enter into cooperative purchasing agreements … for the purchase of goods and services,” a procedure it says it followed by entering into such an agreement with The Interlocal Purchasing System approved by the state Division of Local Government Services.

In a separate move, the council voted to extend an existing contract with Millennium for one year to “provide grant consulting services to assist the city in obtaining funds for various departments and projects throughout the city” for $156,000. Millennium is used by other Hudson County communities as well.

The council voted to accept $173,174 in funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Grant State Program, through the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, “for the continuation of foot and vehicular (JCPD) patrols that will address quality-of-life complaints and undercover tactical gang and drug enforcement operations … in targeted hot spots throughout the city.” Six communities in Hudson County shared a total of $259,099 in JAG funding.

On the recreation front, the council agreed to pay $186,735 to Fireworks by Grucci Inc., of Bellport, N.Y., for the city’s annual July 4th fireworks display; it approved payment of $22,305 to Encon Mechanical Corp., of Ocean, for purchase, delivery and installation of a new baseball scoreboard at Gateway Field on Merseles Street; and it agreed to accept a $100,000 Local Recreation Improvement Grant from the state Department of Community Affairs for the replacement of various playground safety surfaces.

In the public health area, the council agreed to accept $96,526 as its share of a July 21, 2021 legal settlement from the state lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies related to the use of opioid products to devise strategies to “treat or mitigate opioid use or related disorders or mitigate other alleged effects of opioid use” and to accept a $340,300 grant from the state Department of Community Affairs to “hire a lead evaluation contractor” certified by DCA “to provide lead paint inspection services or enter a shared-services agreement … for the purpose of conducting the inspections for lead-based paint hazards….”

And, in the personnel area, the council ratified the mayor’s re-appointment of Laura Tacuri as deputy city tax assessor for a four-year term starting July 1, 2023. The council’s action confers tenure in her job. Tacuri is bilingual in Spanish and has an MBA from New Jersey City University. She has worked for the assesssor’s office since 2003.

Photo by PhotoMIX Company

Ron Leir has been a journalist since 1972. That includes a 37-year stint as a reporter, copy reader and assistant editor with The Jersey Journal, followed by a decade as a reporter with The Observer in...