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Lawrence Cops Seeking Transfers to New Department

With layoffs looming, four Lawrence officers are transfering to another police department in the county. Meanwhile, elimination of DARE education in township schools and changes in how officers respond are possible as a result of cuts to police staffing.

With five positions in the Lawrence Township Police Department set to be eliminated as part of the , and with , four officers are currently in the process of transferring from Lawrence to another police department in Mercer County.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly, multiple sources within the police department confirmed that the transfers were in the works. As the transfers will not be finalized until later this week, Patch is withholding the names of the four officers, as well as the name of the police department they will soon join.

Citing legal restrictions that prohibit them from commenting publicly about matters involving individual employees, Police Chief Daniel Posluszny and Township Manager Richard Krawczun said they could neither confirm nor deny the transfers.

“I can’t really get into anything because it’s a personnel matter,” the police chief said.

“The questions that you’re asking me are matters of personnel,” Krawczun answered. “If there are decisions that need to be made as far as policy then they will be made public at that time. I can’t comment further.”

What can be confirmed at this time, according to Posluszny, is that the township police department is still scheduled to lose five positions as part of the layoff plan that township council approved earlier this year in response to the municipal budget crisis and, as part of that, three patrol officers will lose their jobs on Aug. 31.

Of the remaining two positions to be lost, one has been vacant since a new officer resigned a few weeks after he was hired and started the police academy in March. Deputy Police Chief Joseph Prettyman, meanwhile, is retiring and his position is being eliminated from the department’s command structure.

The loss of those five positions will reduce the number of sworn officers in the Lawrence Township Police Department to 60, according to Posluszny. That number apparently does not include the pending disability retirement of an officer, but the chief – again noting that personnel matters are confidential – declined comment on that matter.

It is unclear how the pending transfers will affect the police layoffs, since not all the officers scheduled to be laid off are seeking transfers. Therefore, the precise number of officers the department will have come September is not known.

Adding to that, several veteran officers will become eligible for retirement later this year and during the next two years.

With manpower clearly going to be reduced from what it currently is, the police department has been taking a hard look at its policies and procedures, particularly with regard to the types of calls to which officers respond and the services that the officers provide, particularly in the township’s public schools.

“Response times might increase some. That’s possible. In fact, I would almost believe they’re going to at times, for certain minor offenses,” Posluszny said. “We’re looking at things we’ve been doing in the schools. There’s a high probability that DARE [Drug Abuse Resistance Education] is going to be stopped in the schools. We’re looking at that. Many of the community things we used to do we’re going to have to scale back. We’re just not going to have the ability to be able to continue those.”

“We’re reviewing how we’re responding to calls. Some of the things we are doing are going to change. There will be changes in response. What exactly we’ll be doing, we’re still really working on,” the chief said, explaining that he has been seeking input from his officers. “I’ve tried to speak at the roll calls, speak to the officers there about their ideas. We’re trying to solicit the sergeants’ ideas and the lieutenants’ ideas. We’re going to try to see what makes the most sense.”

Serious and violent crimes, such as burglaries and robberies, will “be investigated to the same level, obviously,” the chief said. But he said it is possible that officers may not be available to handle minor criminal mischief, harassments and other crimes. Instead, “if your mailbox has been smashed, you’ll be asked to fill out a report online. We’re going to try to increase the usage of online reporting,” he said.

Officers may no longer respond to minor medical problems in cases where emergency medical personnel are already on their way, and most incidents involving animals will no longer warrant a police response.  

“If it’s a call of a life-threatening nature, obviously, we’re going. But if it’s a minor injury… In the past we’ve always assigned officers to those types of calls. Now we might have scale that back,” Posluszny said. “If there’s no threat from an animal, we might have to refer it to [the township’s] animal control [officer] for follow-up.”

He said the department’s revised response protocols are expected to be completed before the end of the month.

A total of 13 municipal positions – including the five in the police department – are being eliminated at the end of this month, while a 14th position is being reduced from full-time to part-time, according to Krawczun.

The other layoffs include: a clerk from the tax collector’s office; a recreation coordinator from the recreation department; a part-time public health nurse from the health department; and a part-time fire apparatus mechanic. Two vacant firefighter positions, a vacant public works department position, and a vacant secretary’s job in the township manager’s office all are being eliminated. The employee whose hours are being reduced is an executive assistant for planning and redevelopment.

Krawczun confirmed that a second vacant position in the public works department was recently filled with a new hire.

“There were two positions that were vacated [in public works] and one of those two has been filled. One [employee] left the area and the other resigned for another position. And one of those two has been filled,” Krawczun explained. He said the decision to fill the public works job was the result of “a demand for manpower at this time that we have. We are trying to avoid any further reduction in that department.”

While the two firefighter positions are being eliminated, Krawczun said the township still plans to pay part-timers, on a per diem basis, to fill those jobs.

The township currently has four career, or paid, firefighters who staff a fire engine from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding holidays), when most of the township’s volunteer firefighters are unavailable due to their fulltime jobs. This daytime “duty crew” responds, on a rotating basis, from one of the township’s three firehouses.

The two positions that are being eliminated were created in 2010 to guarantee that the two other firehouses each had a qualified firefighter on duty during the work week to drive the volunteers’ fire engines and operate their complex pumping systems, since only a limited number of volunteers are trained to do so.

While waiting for the New Jersey Civil Service Commission to conduct a test for those two new firefighter jobs, Lawrence Township in 2010 began using per diem workers to fill those positions. Although the Civil Service firefighter test results were released earlier this year, the positions were never filled due to the township’s ongoing financial problems.

Now those fulltime positions are being eliminated. Instead, part-timers will continue to drive the fire engines.

“The per diems at this time are continuing,” Krawczun said.

The township manager noted that, after the 13 layoffs/job eliminations take effect at the end of this month, the township will be down to 182 employees. “In 2008, we had 212 employees. We’ve cut 30 positions since then.”

 

For Municipal Budget Background, See:

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Chief Wahoo August 20, 2012 at 01:47 PM
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
IMHO August 20, 2012 at 03:57 PM
This is very unfortunate & no one can blame the Police Officers. They have done their best but Lawrence Township Council doesn't understand nor care about the town any more. It won't be long before residents start to migrate to other townships as well. Thanks to the township council & administration for their attempts to destroy a well settled and prosperous town that we were very proud of.
bark34 August 20, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Gotta hand it to the township council...they are off to a flying start in 2012. Hey council why don't you just lay off the entire police department...that makes sense. What a joke...
Sanriobaby August 20, 2012 at 06:38 PM
The news just keep getting worse and worse, but we can't blame those cops for transfering. Most if not all of us would do the same thing too. It's a shame that more programs such as DARE are in danger of being cut too. If things keep going this way, a lot of familes are going to move to other towns, taking thier money with them.....
Rebecca Silva-Hockery August 20, 2012 at 07:00 PM
My house has been on the market for two weeks and we can't wait to get out of this town. My kids are in 4th grade and would have DARE soon but I will make sure they do get the program in East Windsor where we will move. The local government in Lawrenceville has stopped investing into the community with these decisions and that is our families sign to leave after 15+ years. Never before have we seen such an excuse ridden council and poor decisions made for the "better" of the community. The police chief seems aloof and sounds to have given up stating as a matter of fact about increased response times / loss of critical community programs. The manager seems to also be quite out of touch with the needs of a prospering community such as Lawrenceville. As a community member who has been involved and supported many community events.........I am really saddened by the lack of reality that has overshadowed our town leaders. The local government has almost convinced themselves that they are doing right for the community. Sad.
South side Hero August 20, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Layoffs and retirements are going to cost this township. Whether it is from increased response times or huge overtime expenses the burden will fall on the taxpayer. Not to mention that the care and concern for safety of the officers is getting tossed into the Colonial Lake. Maybe the Patch could print the overtime cost for the police Year to date by rank.
Out of Towner August 20, 2012 at 07:24 PM
The council and the manager/finance director and whatever else he is in charge of had to have seen this financial problem coming years ago, but now it's too late, and they are pushing the blame on the residents. I live out of Lawrence, thank god, and I hope these fine police come to my town. As for the remaining police, stay safe, hopefully no one will get injured or killed as a result of their stupidity. Hope they all are sleeping good at night, can't wait for them to call the police and no one shows up.
Jack Sparrow August 20, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Would love to see the overtime costs myself.
josh hamilton August 20, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Holy Smokes..... Officer Al must be falling off his lawn mower and going postal with his weed whacker. He started the DARE progam and now it's gone because of irrisponsible spending by the town manager and town council. I wish Denny was still with us because that boy would go into a closed door session of town council and kick some tail. FOLKS, PUT THE FOR SALE SIGNS ON YOUR LAWN LIKE I DID SEVERAL YEARS AGO AND GET THE HELL OUT OF TRENTON NORTH. I FEEL FOR THE REMAINING OFFICERS BECAUSE THEY ARE GOING TO BE THE ONES SUFFERING. GOD FORBID ONE OF THEM GET FATALLY INJURED, I WILL BE UP THERE. I MIGHT EVEN LOOK IN THE DUMPSTERS FOR WHEESLE IF HE HASNT DID AWAY WITH HIMSELF YET. HE MIGHT EVEN BE SLEEPING IN ONE OF THE REAR SEATS OF A PATROL CAR STILL. MAYBE HIS BRO KNOWS SOME DEALERS THAT CAN HELP. Be safe brothers and sisters. I pray for your safety every day.
Lawrenceville 4 Life August 21, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Terrible loss for the Lawrenceville community.
David Smith August 21, 2012 at 07:19 PM
We should have all seen this coming when the Governor capped the budgets and stop sending money to the townships. More trickle down economic theory at work. You can't keep the same size police force or township services when you are working with half the money we used to get from the state. Get ready to pay for your own garbage pick up it's the only way the township can continue the services they are giving now. It's inevitable based on the numbers. Won't it be nice to see half a dozen different garbage trucks going up and down the streets every week. It also doesn't help that whenever a business tries to open and add to our tax revenue everyone starts screaming "not in my back yard". How many law suits do we have going on now in regard to that issue?
Letitallout August 26, 2012 at 02:07 AM
It is a shame that Lawrence is losing experienced officers when they really need more officers NOW ! In the future when they must hire new officers they will have to train these new officers, who won't be street ready by themselves for close to a year !
deborah boutote September 05, 2012 at 01:25 PM
There is NO excuse for NOT responding to "smaller" calls. For instance the intersection here of Gordon/Bergan and the STOP sign!! There have been MULTIPLE accidents as well as many near misses. The last was an indicent regarding kids! I was personally yelled at as an officer responded to this call and had to come "All" the way from Rte one to answer it and told me to go back into my house as I want the parent! I am a Parent of 4 children who drive not and Im even more concerned as two our of four of my children have been in "near misses" with the STOP sign that no one bothers to stop at for many years! Over the past 20 years I have called the Twp over and over again as I myself back then had a "near miss" with my youngest child in the car as a "resident" blew thru the STOP sign and screamed at my it was my fault I was already in the intersection ( I had the right of way) and just picked my son up from school! I guess Lawrence Twp regards the MULTIPLE accidents, where people have been seriously hurt (as of recent as well) and children are involved daily biking and crossing the street here with their friends! My neighbors as well as my self have complained over and over again regarding the intersection and have been put off EVERYTIME! With all these cutbacks, is it going to take someones DEATH to remedy this serious problem here?

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