Neptune officials plan to swear in a new police chief next month while a civilian police director will continue to handle administrative functions of the department.
This ambitious new arrangement for the police department will be the only one of its kind in Monmouth County.
This week the Township Committee passed a resolution to accept applications for the new police chief job. A search will also continue within the current township staff to fill the civilian police director job.
Chief Financial Officer Michael Bascom has been the acting-civilian police director since former Police Chief Robert Adams retired 15 months ago and Deputy Chief James Hunt has served as the top police officer. There is a possibility that Bascom may remain as the acting-civilian police director for some time into the future.
A new police chief will be sworn in during a special ceremony on Thurs. Sept. 4 at 6 p.m.
The search to fill both positions will be done in-house among existing police officers for the police chief job and among current township employees for the police director position, which will probably come with some type of stipend.
“They will come from full-time management staff already within the township,” Bascom said.
Township officials said they realize the importance of reviewing the police department on a more regular basis and updating its rules and regulations. Officials also said that having both a police chief to handle the daily operations and a civilian police director to oversee the administrative end of the department will better serve Neptune residents.
“We are establishing oversight- the police director will handle the department’s internal structure and its administrative side while the chief will be in charge of law enforcement and the department’s day-to-day operations,” Mayor Michael Brantley said.
“We want better oversight and our response to our community needs to be improved. We looked at all of our options to see what fits Neptune best. We are doing the job the best way we can. There has been a lot of discussion and we feel this is the best way right now. We will get the best of both worlds and we feel this is the best option to move forward,” he said.
Township Attorney Gene Anthony said state law allows the civilian police director to develop criteria and provide oversight for the police department but without involvement in the department’s day-to-day operations.
“It will provide an expert to supervise the department,” he said.
The police department has close to 100 employees.
“We have a great police department and we are trying to get things squared-away and make changes for the betterment of the community,” said Committeeman Eric Houghtaling, who is also the police commissioner.
He said there may still be more restructuring within the police department in the future.
Michael D. Fornino, a longtime township resident, said the new police department setup “makes no sense.”
“The Township Committee has the power to set policy in the police department and see it’s followed. You have the ability to hire or fire. You guys are the boss and have the power, not to give it to some underling. You are just passing it off,” he said.
Dorothy Argyros, also a longtime residente, said she would like to see the township create a civilian review board to also oversee the police department, while other residents said the governing body is just creating another bureaucratic layer within the police department.
Committeeman Randy Bishop said having both a civilian police director and a police chief is not creating another layer within the department.
“They will work side by side. This has been done in the past and we think this will work,” he said.
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