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Chief: Fewer Cops Mean Less Services, Longer Waits

While officers will continue to respond to life-threatening emergencies and investigate major crimes, Lawrence Township Police Dept. no longer has enough manpower to be able to respond to all minor offenses or visit schools to teach drug abuse preventio

While Lawrence Township police will continue to respond to life-threatening emergencies and investigate significant crimes just as they always have, the department has lost so many officers that it no longer has enough manpower to send officers out to document minor offenses or investigate crimes that have little chance of being solved, Police Chief Daniel Posluszny told Lawrenceville Patch during an interview last Thursday.

Officers also will no longer be available to teach DARE [Drug Abuse Resistance Education] and bus safety in the schools, he confirmed.

“We are down to 58 officers as I speak today. We’ve lost 12 people now in a little over three years. We’ve been reevaluating what we do and what we’re going to do and we’re still continuing to reevaluate it,” the chief said, noting that changes to how the department operates have already begun.

Several police positions were eliminated as part of the that took effect last week and to the Hamilton Township Police Department. And under one of the options put forth to balance the 2013 municipal budget.  

Posluszny confirmed that the department has lowered its minimum staffing requirements, though in the interests of officers’ safety he declined to offer specifics about how many officers will be on the job at any given time. “Staffing levels are lower. We’re going to have less officers working. Response times are going to go up for certain [non-priority] calls,” he said.

“We’re using officers in different ways than we probably have in the past,” he added. Some detectives, for example, have had their schedules rearranged and are now working night shifts to help patrol the township.

The police department has always triaged the calls it receives from the public, with the most serious and time-sensitive calls for help being given top priority. That sorting of calls based on their urgency and severity will likely be more noticeable now given the diminished manpower of the police department.

“In years past we were so focused on service to the public, we’d always send an officer. We just don’t have the resources now to do that,” the chief said. “What we’re going to look at is, is there a danger to persons? That’s first and foremost. We have to respond. Is there a danger to property? That’s second.

“If someone calls about a bat in their house – and you get those types of calls, because you’re a 24-hour service – depending on the circumstances we may not go,” he continued. “If the bat’s attacking the homeowner, yes, we’re going. If not, if it’s just a bat in the house, we’ll advise the resident to close the door to the room the bat’s in and open a window. The bat’s eventually going to get out.”

In the case of some non-violent crimes like criminal mischief, theft from an unlocked vehicle, credit card fraud and identity theft, an officer will no longer automatically be dispatched to document the crime and the victim will instead be directed to fill out an online police report through the township’s website.

“We’re going to increase usage of online reporting,” the chief said. “If someone reports that their car’s been entered – which unfortunately we get so many of, unlocked cars entered – if they don’t want to wait for an officer to come out, we’re going to ask them to file online.”

Such a report is generally needed by a victim wishing to make a claim to his/her insurance company. The department will then review each report to determine if follow-up by an officer or detective is warranted.

“When we get a report of a crime now, we’re going to evaluate its solvability. If there’s no suspect and no additional information we may not follow it up at that time. We can’t take the detectives’ time to do it,” Posluszny said. “[In the past] we would follow up almost every indictable offense reported. A detective would check with the victim. We would leave the case open for a time to see if a lead develops. We just can’t do that anymore. We’re not going to be keeping cases open. Now, if we receive information to solve a case in the future, obviously, we’re going to reopen it and investigate it.”

The chief said an officer will still be sent out in non-priority situations where the victim has no ability to file an online police report or if the victim insists on seeing an officer in person.

“For a senior citizen who doesn’t have access to a computer, an officer will have to go there,” he explained. “If someone insists, we will send an officer but the wait time might be considerably longer than it has been in the past.”

He also noted that “we’re in the process of trying to get a kiosk here in the lobby of the police station to utilize for reporting purposes. If somebody comes here and they don’t want to wait they can actually file right online here.” Since the police department’s records bureau has also lost some staff in recent years, he said, efforts are also underway to implement a system in the near future whereby members of the public can request and obtain accident reports and other police records via email.

Police officers will no longer respond to minor medical emergencies, the chief said. Calls that would typically get a response from a paramedic crew – such as respiratory distress or a heart attack – will still get a priority response from a police officer, but an officer will no longer respond to ambulance calls that are not of a life-threatening nature.

Similarly, reports of stray dogs and other animal control calls where the animal in question poses no threat to anyone will no longer warrant a police response, he said.   

 “We’re not doing DARE in the schools,” Posluszny said, confirming an end to the department’s longtime participation in the drug abuse prevention program. According to the , last year 350 fifth-grade students from Lawrence Intermediate School and St. Ann’s School benefited from the DARE program taught by juvenile bureau Detectives Scott Caloiaro and Dave Burns.

“In years past’ we’ve done bus safety for the schools. We’ll assist the schools in developing lesson plans, but we’re not going to have an officer present,” he said.

Also ending, he said, will be the regular visits that Detectives Caloiaro and Burns made to interact with students at the elementary schools and intermediate school, so they can focus on other police responsibilities. He said police officers will continue to show a presence at Lawrence Middle School and Lawrence High School as needed.

Posluszny said the department is trying to streamline some of its internal policies and procedures to improve efficiency.

Compared to 2010, “major crimes” in Lawrence Township increased about 24 percent in 2011, with burglaries alone going up 41 percent, . 

During last week's interview, the chief offered some statistics about crime in Lawrence Township during the first seven months of this year.

From Jan. 1 through July 31, 2012, he said, there were a total of 600 index crimes reported in the township, compared to 695 during the first seven months of 2011.

Index crimes are those crimes documented in the annual Uniform Crime Report published by the New Jersey State Police and the FBI – homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Burglaries have gone up, from 54 during the first seven months of 2011 to 65 from Jan. 1 through July 31 of this year, but thefts (485 to 407), robberies (17 to 12) and assaults (121 to 102) have all gone down, according to Posluszny.

The chief said the police department remains committed to keeping residents safe but he urged residents to take an active part in safeguarding their community.

“If you see anything suspicious or out of place, call us,” he said.

He said anyone with questions or concerns about the police department’s new procedures can call the police station at (609) 896-1111 and ask for the chief’s office. He said he or one of the department’s lieutenants will return all calls.

 

See Also:

  • July 6, 2011: ""

 

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The Truth September 05, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Joe - the only "average" is abrormal/expected high salaries and uncomparable wages, that trickle down to the citizen. If money is the motivator to get an officer to be professional, maybe it is time to invest in that advanced security system, have a trained guard dog in your home at all times, and hire an private security company to respoond to home alarms! It shouldn't take money to be a motivator to be a great cop or good school teacher. If that is a motivator, your mind is elsewhere...
The Truth September 05, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Tom - The difference was determined by the union negotiations and not each forces experience. Here is another comparision. Philadelphia Police Officers, that deal with an increased crime level, compared to all your municipalities listed, pays an officer $45,420 - $58,989 max. Their experience in witnessing/dealing with serious crime far exceeds any force you listed, and their salaries are extremely lower... My point exactly that NJ public servants have unheard of and uncomparable salaries that are unwarranted...
Future Past Resident September 05, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Dave once again how are the union's proposals the unions fault if the town accepts them? The town has other avenues to settle contracts such as mediation and arbitration. The union proposed no layoffs and the town refused that proposal. Are salary proposals different? Your spewing propaganda to shift blame from your political friends to the unions. Like I said before it is council and the manager who are responsibile for salaries not the union for making proposals for salary increases.
Joe Friday September 05, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Dave P, sounds to me that you are bitter about what Cops make in NJ and perhaps you couldn't get a job as one so you bash them. NYC cops make an average of 90K a year after six years on according to their website. Are they overpaid also Dave?
The Truth September 05, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Not trying to bash, just see the problem as a whole... I have and do work in a government and law enforcement capacity so your comment didn't quiet hit the mark there Joe. Are NYC cops overpaid??? Maybe so... So you agree that Philly cops are underpaid??? All sensable people can agree that 100k plus a year is not a feasible median, especially with the downward spiral in NJ.
The Truth September 05, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Joe- You must be one of those employees milking the system, making it hard on everyone else or just one of those people that are for increasing taxes and removing public services for local citizens. Which one is it, maybe both!!! It is people like you and your mentality that is the problem. Run in the next election and keep us on the same track, becuase your mentaility is in line with those already in office.................................
TPG September 05, 2012 at 05:05 PM
It seems to me we are all looking at this issue the wrong way (at least according to the previous comments). Forget about whether the police are overpaid, or whether you're pro-union/anti-union, and ask yourself this: Should the cops have been coming to get the bats out of our houses in the first place? Should they have been accompanying an ambulance or responding to minor injuries? Should they be chasing around town for stray dogs? No one wants to have fewer cops around, but let's not make it sound as if murderers will now be walking through Lville unimpeded because we lost four officers. Like the police chief says, if a bat gets into your house, um, open the windows! Let the remaining cops focus on the real stuff, like they do in every other town.
Joe Friday September 05, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Dave, I don't milk any system. I go to work day in and day out like anyone else does. I am a taxpayer just like anyone else. I am simply tired of people like you who blame the cops, teachers, firefighters, etc.... for all of the problems. I agree that there is still plenty of fat in the budget and that there are several positions in government that could be cut but the powers that be choose to keep their friends and family employed as opposed to make cuts that make fiscal sense. The cops in this town make a fair wage, they are not rich, they are not poor. Teachers make fair wages in this town. I also find it hard to believe that you are in government/law enforcement and bash the very people you are allegedly associated with.
The Truth September 05, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I don't bash the very people I work for or associate with, I just see the big picture and the hardship local citizens endure because of people like me. I have had a pay freeze for years now and that is a concession I agree with based on the U.S. economy. These public servants you mention have some of the highest paid salaries in the nation, in a state with budget issues, no industry moving in, and with some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Your state government has already done the research and highlighted these professions as a group affecting the budget, but if you know of any of these professions or the unions that are affiliated with them making any concessions to lighten the burden on the public please let me know. We can go back and forth all day, trying to make a point, but when you are in a profession say like an educator or police officer, have an above average salary, you are going to get noticed.
Chief Wahoo September 05, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Simple Economics .....The EMPLOYEES cannot make more than the EMPLOYERS
Blueline September 05, 2012 at 05:56 PM
TPG, you have hit upon a very, very compelling topic here. You are right in so many ways but it actually goes further. The residents have come to use the police department as their own personal secretaries when it comes to reporting everything they lose or when they damage their property as a means to pacify the insurance industry. They call the police to resolve every personal issue in theirs lives. LIke when their kids are acting up or don't want to come home. Or when their neighbor cuts down a branch from their tree or throws grass clipping on their lawn. I could go on and on about the daily BS people call about but it would just disgust the average intelligent citizen. It's time for people to help themselves and stop relying on the police to do everything for them.
Fact Check September 05, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Well wahoo, the current employees make what they make. Current employees, including police have made concessions; concessions to the tune of 0% raises and subsequent raises well below the 2% cap. Police will be contributing 35% for health care which is more than the average private sector employee and they already pay the highest contribution rate of any public employee for their pensions. If the unions would agree, all new hires could start out with much lower salaries and max out at a much lower rate. The effects of that would take place very quickly as many township employees and police are due to retire within the next year or two. New hires will absolutely have to come under a different pay and benefits schedule, that is the reality. Remember though, you will not get a quality law enforcement officer in New Jersey for $50,000. Not because people wont be professional, but those people who can pass background checks, physical and psychological requirements, and those who have much needed common sense are going to work elsewhere. There is just too much at stake. Compensation is not all about the dangers of policing, officers make multi-million dollar decisions every day and must be able to make split second legal and life altering decisions. Is $100,000 too much, probably and that can be justifiably addressed in new contract negotiations for all new employees,
grill master September 05, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Keep drinking the Kool-Aid, pal. Yes, that is where it hurts. Since it's about targeting voters. Voters that are in their 30's and 40's with young children. They never said they weren't going to respond to serious crimes, did they?? Just don't call them when there is a little snake in your yard. I'm not sure if all surrounding towns police are paid more, but I do know they PAY MORE TAXES! You can't pay for what you can't afford.
Future Past Resident September 05, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Dave I hardly believe you work in law enforcement or public service. While new employee salaries may be adjusted it is still ultimately the council who is responsible for settling pay increases and contract terms. The issue here is less services. I am fine with less services if that means my taxs will be adjusted accordingly. Although I find it to have been a bargain to keep service levels where they where for a few hundred dollars a year in garbage fees. Go ahead and attack me. Do you see where proving your point and voting down the referendum has led this town? Guess what's on the table now? Removing trash collection from municipal services all together. OH and less services now. Good choice to the shallow minded tax payer. All of his could have been avoided for a few hundred dollars a year per household.
The Truth September 05, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Mr Future Past Resident ot whatever your name is, actually I do work in government service, but not at the local level. But I do not have to prove that to you for confidentiality sake. My origianl point was regardless if you voted recently or in the future, this downward spiral will continue. My main point before everyone got carried away was what has the township done after state government made the recommendation of combining municipal services? Has Lawrence Township taken any steps toward this recommendation? Mr Future Past Resident, do you knowestly believe you are going to be safe after they take away garbage pick-up and that will be it for loss of services, think again!!!
Greatest PR Ever September 05, 2012 at 09:03 PM
With an increase in crime and the loss of 4 police officers no one should be suggesting any further layoffs or demotions. I would look at the current number of officers vs. the current number of supervisors. If on any given weekday there are an average of 6 or 7 supervisors including the chief there is an average of 6 to 8 total non supervisory officers including detectives working. That is darn near a 1 to 1 supervisor to employee ratio. It appears the police are still a little top heavy. If there are upcoming retirements of supervisors then there is no problem if this 1 to 1 is only temporary. If during the day the chief and 2 lieutenants are working, why are there 3 sergeants working? Or are if there are 3 sergeants working why are 2 lieutenants needed? Im not trying to criticize the hard work of the police but common sense would say we could have more police on the streets if the total number of police didnt have 1 to 1 supervision. Our police make in excess of $100,000 a year are their supervisors their personal trainers or what? 1 to 1 are you kidding me? I know the chief and I know he is a good man and a strong leader. He can make this work. RICHARD KRAWCZUN....................Wake up. You are a smart and well qualified man. Does the rest of the town have 1 to 1 supervision? Are department heads in the rest of the township who earn close to the national average of Pediatricians needed to run a 2 or 3 person section?
Sherry S. September 05, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Funny you say that Queen. My boyfriend told me the police department asked town council for another supervisor position when there are only 4 or 5 officers at a time working on the streets.
Future Past Resident September 05, 2012 at 09:30 PM
PR check those numbers. Really not accurate.
Waco Kid September 05, 2012 at 10:41 PM
We can't...and if I had to guess I would say it will only get worse. It's a shame but once the street filth start to run things then a lot of currently o'k areas are going to be off limits. My question is that if there are not enough police to provide ample response to protect us from the drugs and thugs out there then when will the Chief start signing off on gun carry permits to allow us to protect ourselves?
sunshine September 05, 2012 at 11:53 PM
PR, your numbers are off big time. Detective bureau alone is at least 8 officers and around 4 civilians during the week. They have a sgt in charge and a lt that oversees that department and records. The other 2 Lts in charge of patrol and other areas alternate days and evenings. The patrol division does not even have the proper amount of sgts. One crew is left with only one sgt forcing the others to fill in when they are able. The problem no longer lies in being top heavy.
TSP September 06, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Actually, PR's numbers are pretty accurate. There are never 8 officers at any one time, not even on any one day in the Detective Bureau and there is only 1 part time civilian. Sunshine, you are way off. Maybe if there were not 2 lieutenants and 3 sergeants working during the day to supervise , one of the crews would not be left with only 1 sgt. Don't exaggerate the numbers to justify your jobs. 4 patrol officers have left, the township manager is calling for more layoffs - and the PD is asking for another supervisor. Get real folks. The town wants more officers out on the streets. If there are any more layoffs, the supervisors will be supervising themselves.
sunshine September 06, 2012 at 12:44 AM
One part time Civilian employee? Ok. You don't have your facts correct. You have forgotten the records. 2 juvenile detectives, 4-6 detectives, the evidence officer and the general assignment patrol officer. Hmmmmm. I guess I'm way off.
Average Joe September 06, 2012 at 01:52 AM
The problem is having every town having their own police department. There should be a county police department. It works in other States.
The Truth September 06, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Average Joe - My point exactly! Combined services in a troubled state is an option needing more attention. Currently you have the prosecutors office with investigators, the county sheriff's office, local police, the county corrections department, and in some areas county/local park rangers. Not to mention we already have an outstanding state police force with state wide jurisdiction, that are not utilized to their full authority potential, that could easily supplement or aid a county/regional force. By combining all into one large regional or county force would save local citizens millions of dollars. I am not sure of the specifics on response times, but I am sure that departments with these forces have released reports on the impact and quality of services they provide being county wide. Like I said previously, state lawmakers have already recommended to begin combining services, but how may municipalities are following suit? My guess is a minimal. The municipalites just make it seems like they have no other option than to cut services, rather than combining.
McCafe September 06, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Dave take your propaganda banter somewhere else. Your talking half cocked with tip of the iceberg information. Sounds good on face value but combining police services would be an absolute mess for a town like Lawrenceville. If your unhappy with what is happening in Lawrenceville run for office. Your analysis of available agencies to provide police coverage is incorrect. Familiarize yourself with the way the system works in this state. Call the state police, prosecutors office, AG's office or sheriffs department and inquire for yourself. County/local park rangers have no authority or arrest powers. Spare us your "knowledge".
Joe Friday September 06, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Dave P. Read up on the Camden County Metro Police Department and the troubles they are having in Camden with creating a county police department that is only going to patrol the city of Camden. Slow read the results of the Somerset County proposal for a county police department there. You will see the problem and issues with consolidation in New Jersey.
The Truth September 06, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Well Mr McDonald's McCafe, with your vast wisdom explain how this WOULD be a total mess. Since you seem to have written all the research reports and proposals on this topic. All these LE agencies provide a service, that combined, could be operated by by one agency and thats the bottom line. Its people like yourself that have unrealistic views of how things really are at the moment, like high taxes and no services, and sit back and do nothing about it but bash others ideas on the Patch. Save me your mocha lattes and ice coffees, because it ain't that great... And you stand correct Mr. McDonalds, maybe someone with fresh views is just what this town needs, because it is people like you holding back the citizens that welcome change and new ideas. I have become bored with this topic and all the people with the business as usual ideologies. Have a nice day.
VPPD September 08, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Last weekend there was a 2 car accident at harneys corner 206 blocking the right lane. After i finally got through the backup I proceeded to home depot and the farmers market. 1 hour later I was coming back home and both cars and drivers were still out there waiting for the police!! The traffic was crazy!!
Lawrence Larryville September 08, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Anyone remember how Chief Dan remained silent when police staff cuts were being considered during budget meetings before the municipal elections just a few months ago? He didn't stand up for his guys then. I guess now he thinks the cuts "might just" reflect badly on him, so he figured he'd say something. The timing for his current statements is perfect... had they been uttered just a few months back. This guy is an aloof, compassionless jackass and a poor symbol of law enforcement in Lawrence. No wonder several officers tried to sue him for violation of civil rights. His salary alone would pay for 3 more cops. He makes close to $170K in salary and if he retired (because he has the time in) his pension would pay him $110K/year to sit at home. I wouldn't let Chief Dan's remarks on "lack of manpower" affect you too much. He's just in it for himself.
Lawrenceville Pride September 08, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Hey Larryille. Your obviously not a current member in the police department. As you know the department just got rid of a huge piece of cancer that held the department members down for years. With that piece of garbage gone the Chief is now doing his best to turn the department around. Most of the officers are very positive about the new changes and everyone seems to be working well together to make the police department better. The Chief has taken an active role in leading these changes and his efforts are very much apprciated by a majority of the officers under him. As a life long Lawrence resident I am excited to have the opportunity to be part of the new LTPD. I commend the Chief on his efforts and you should also. Enough with the negativity, be part of the solution by sharing innovative ideas and giving support rather being part of the problem with the put-downs and negativity.

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