“They’ve had preferential treatment under Suffern and Halstead,” he said.
Mr. Halstead dismissed that claim as meritless. He said that all promotions were earned and based on experience and test results.
“Chief Suffern has been trying to instill a sense of discipline within the department and that is being pushed back against heavily,” said Mr. Halstead, who retired on Dec. 1 after 27 years with the department for what he said were personal reasons.
Chief Suffern declined to comment.
On a recent Saturday, about a dozen protesters marched through Englewood, as they do most weeks, behind an S.U.V. playing a mix of gospel music and the song “Glory” from the “Selma” soundtrack.
The Rev. Preston Thompson, the senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Englewood, said the police had forgotten that their job was to “protect and serve.”
“The whole system is insulated to protect its own,” Mr. Thompson said. “We have to fight against it. They are not going to self-police and so we the people have to make sure we come and we protect our own.’’
Mayor Wildes, a former federal prosecutor who has participated in more than a dozen Black Lives Matter marches in Englewood, said he believed that each of the city’s 72 police officers, individually, was committed to serving the public.
“There isn’t a single officer who wouldn’t stick themselves in front of danger to save someone, to help a resident,” he said.
“But, to me,” he added, “making sure the city leadership improves this department is really the task for 2021.”
Lauren Hard contributed reporting.