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Bergen PD Chief Higgins cuts sick leave by 35 percent

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Sick time at the Bergen County Police Department spiked to more than 14,000 hours in the time it was without a police chief following John “Jack” Schmidig’s retirement, but Chief Brian Higgins today said he’s cut that by 35 percent in little more than a year.

“This is the equivalent of 599 shifts and a savings in sick leave payouts of $234,000,” Higgins told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this afternoon.

Higgins said he established a series of new policies to address various issues, including one reining in sick time usage, after he became chief in June 2011.

It was signed off by PBA Local #49 through collective bargaining that year.

Higgins cited the “leadership void” that was left after former Schmidig retired in June 2009. Expenses exploded in the time the department was without a chief, he said.

Higgins, who is also the county’s Director of Public Safety, said his first initiative was to seek national accreditation of the agency, a three-year process that is currently under way.

He said he then set about finding ways of curbing abuses.

From Feb. 2, 2012, when the sick leave policy went into affect, until the same date this year, records show a drop in the use of sick leave of 4,789 hours.

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