WEST MILFORD - The township council has approved an ordinance changing the structure of the police department, as requested over a year ago by police Chief Gene Chiosie and Mayor Bettina Bieri.
The new structure, unanimously approved by the council, calls for one police chief, one captain, three lieutenants and six sergeants. The old structure had one chief, two captains, four lieutenants and five sergeants. While the force has not been at full strength, this change would save the township about $250,000 if it was fully staffed. Eliminating a captain's salary of $137,000, a lieutenant's pay of $127,000 and adding $15,000 by promoting one officer to a sergeant's position would give the township a net savings of $249,000, if all of the positions were filled.
Bieri has said she always felt the force was top heavy.
Although the township code called for more, there have only been one captain and three lieutenants on active duty. Officer Joe Nevin, who has been performing the duties of a sergeant, filed a request for a desk audit through the chief in August, 2011. A desk audit is a procedure to determine what duties are actually being performed by a Civil Service employee. In this case, the Department of Personnel determined that Nevin was performing the duties of a sergeant and gave the township 30 days to either reassign the duties or give him the title of sergeant. With the change of the police structure now in the code, Nevin will be promoted.
Opposition turns to agreement Last year, the council opposed the change, which must be done by ordinance since the police structure is part of the townships code. Council members said they wanted to get approval from the townships labor counsel to make sure there were no contractual issues. They also questioned the number of officers Chiosie said he needed in the department - 46. Chiosie would also like to add school resource officers to patrol the high school. Bieri backs that.