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Chief: Loss of 29 Officers Could Bring Big Changes to Police Department

Chief details what could be in store if referendum fails April 27

As residents ponder the decision of whether to vote in favor of, or against, a referendum that will allow the township to exceed a state-imposed tax levy cap by $8.6 million, police Chief Nils R. Bergquist is pondering how his department will handle the potential loss of up to 29 officers.

The Brick Township Police Department, which fields between 60,000 and 80,000 calls for service in a given year, has already suffered losses in manpower. In 2007, the department employed 133 police officers. Currently, 122 officers are on the roster, the chief said.

“If 29 police officers are laid off, we'll be down to 94,” said Bergquist, well short of the 140 officers a commissioned by the township said the department needs in order to work optimally for a municipality of Brick’s size.

If the number of officers drops again, Bergquist said, so will the department’s ability to provide a level of service Brick residents have grown to expect.

Already, he said, the Selective Enforcement, or SET, team has been eliminated. Members of the SET team primarily focused on anti-gang work before being disbanded and rolled back into patrol due to staffing cuts. The team was credited with increasing drug arrests 300 percent in the first six months they were on the job.

The department’s training budget has also taken a major hit, the chief explained, and if the referendum fails to obtain voter support, Brick will pull out of regional task forces such as the Ocean County Narcotics Strike Force and an anti-gang task force run by the FBI.

“Participation in those two task forces brings to bear in Brick Township the resources of those two agencies,” Bergquist said. “If we start losing additional people, reductions will be commensurate in the losses.”

The department will also look at its D.A.R.E. anti-drug program in township schools, school resource officers permanently assigned to schools – who, the chief said, bring “actionable intelligence” to fight crime in the township – and officers assigned to investigate crime and traffic safety issues in town.

“The exercise here is to evaluate where you're going to put your resources,” said Bergquist.

For the average Brick resident, a manpower reduction will result in lower minimum staffing levels, longer response times and, potentially, what is known as “differential response,” Bergquist said.

Under a differential response policy, certain lower-level crimes will not elicit a police response at all. Instead, residents will have to come to the department in person to fill out a report, or complete an online form.

“That really goes against my grain,” said Bergquist. “A police officer having that contemporary knowledge of his beat – that prevents crime. It's the broken windows philosophy; if you have knowledge of the small things, it helps you prevent the big things.”

Just as the referendum is all about the numbers, so is the concern of the police chief.

“If we lose 29 people, we'll be looking at how many people we'll actually be able to put on the street.”

Doug April 25, 2011 at 03:09 PM
Which companies quoted you $450-$500 per/year?
Doug April 25, 2011 at 03:19 PM
I just went to Waste Management's website, selected weekly curbside pickup for trash (96 gallon container) and recycling (96 gallon container) and the yearly price is $226.26.
really? April 25, 2011 at 03:28 PM
WM is only quoting a introductory price. They said it themselves that one all of Brick signs up they will re-evaluate the pricing. Their history speaks for itself. Once they get you, the prices skyrocket. Also, remember that this is only one of the services that could be lost.
Doug April 25, 2011 at 03:31 PM
A woman at the last Town Hall meeting stated that their property manager was negotiating a 3 year contract. How can you say that it will "skyrocket"? Who are the companies that you say are quoting $450-$500 per/year? Be fair. If you are going to try and convince people that they shouldn't vote NO and your facts are valid, then state who they are so that we can confirm them for ourselves.
Doug April 25, 2011 at 04:34 PM
We should also remember that there are BOE elections on April 27th. There are current members that need to go. I am aware that they sent a mailer out to Brick residents. Believe me when I tell you, they are thankful for the distraction of the referendum. Leone, Merolo and Zawacki filled the flier with lies and half-truths. The fact is that they serve a lot of special interests with our School Budget money. No different than our other tax money that we are trying to fight for now. Wolf and Talty have been trying to make changes, but have basically been stonewalled. In November, we elected Wolf and Talty, now it is time to make some more changes. This website, http://info.hopeforbrick.com/Home_Page.html, will help fill in the blanks about the lies and half-truths that Lenone and company put in the flier. Please read it and make a wise choice on Wednesday for our school administration. They are happy to see the referendum getting all of the attention right now. Don't let this part slip by. Personally, I am supporting Kight, Reid and Suter. Put the BOE back in Brick's hands and not the control of out-0f-towners.

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