Little Egg Harbor Police Receive Accreditation

Jun 27, 2018
Harry Delgado, (center) Program Director of the New Jersey Association Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission hands Police Chief Richard Buzby the accreditation certificate. Little Egg Harbor Police Lieutenant James Hawkins, (left) and Sergeant Thomas Thornton helped in the two-year-long process.

The Little Egg Harbor Police Department received its certificate of accreditation from Harry Delgado, program director of the New Jersey Association Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, during the June 14 municipal meeting. Delgado said Little Egg joins an “elite group of law enforcement agencies”; only about 200 of the 560 agencies in New Jersey have received accreditation. Successful completion of the two-year process means Little Egg Harbor meets all of the state and national standards for Best Practices and in some cases exceeded the standards, he said.

Future goals include growing and enhancing community policing and increasing the department’s technological efficiency, including the use of body cameras, said Delgado. “This is not just a one-time event; re-certification is required every three years.”

Police Chief Richard Buzby said the department is committed and dedicated to excellent police service.

“One of the remarkable things,” said Delgado, “the final step is to find issues that need to be corrected, and we couldn’t find a single one. Less than 1 percent of the departments have achieved that. It’s totally remarkable and highly professional.”

Buzby said of his department, “It’s what the community expects, it’s what they deserve, and it’s what they will get.”

Lt. James Hawkins and Sgt. Thomas Thornton plus the mayor and committee helped in preparing the final report and in the accreditation process, he added with thanks.

Besides a more-efficient and -compliant police force, there are fiscal advantages. Business Administrator Garrett Loesch said the township receives an immediate reduction in liability insurance.

In a related matter, Buzby announced that starting this week, Ocean Mental Health Services’ “On Point Program,” consisting of a social worker, would be at the station one day a week. Kim Veith from OMHS said the social worker would work with police to help families or community members who have complex problems either with addictions or mental health issues.

Officers frequently have to visit the same households repeatedly for the same issues and it wastes their time. “We’ve found that 86 percent of the clients referred to us resulted in 700 police officer hours saved,” said Veith.

“This is an intelligent use of taxpayers’ money,” said Buzby. “Stafford Township initiated the program, and they have some really good people working on a couple of cases where we asked for their help. The officers are also very excited to be able to save some time. And beyond that, we are giving services to those less fortunate individuals in our community.”

In other news, the township adopted an ordinance to bond $4,250,000 from the Infrastructure Trust Bank to replace the stormwater drainage collection system in Mystic Island, specifically the Twin Lakes area.

The township received $51,039 in the form of a Clean Communities grant, allowing it to hire Ryan De Forge as a full-time public works laborer at $17.80 an hour.

Township Engineer Jason Worth said the county would soon begin installing “rumble strips” in Route 539 from the Parkway to Route 72.

During the public session, Barbara Schnepp, a resident of Tuckerton, spoke for the elderly residents of Darryl Drive off Railroad Avenue in the Parkertown section of Little Egg. These residents had received a letter from the township dated June 1 telling them to cut and remove the trees that are causing sidewalk upheaval and then repair or replace the sidewalks.

Schnepp said 25 years ago, the developer of Darryl Drive was responsible for the area for three or four years but had since had the bonds released. Now the residents, many of whom are on fixed incomes, one of whom is 90 years old, must make these costly repairs or face fines from the township, a situation she found deplorable. Tuckerton borough, she noted, has a time limit on its ordinance: Only sidewalks constructed after Jan. 1, 2000, are the responsibility of the homeowners. The older sidewalks are the borough’s responsibility.

“I hope the township will do the right thing … extend a courtesy and give a break to those in need, as this creates an extreme hardship,” said Schnepp.

Township Attorney Jean Cipriani asked for a copy of the letter the residents had received and said she would see if there would be a legal basis on which to make an exception.

Martin Horner from Parkertown Drive rose to complain about a neighbor using his property to repair construction equipment in the middle of a residential zone. Horner said he has repeatedly asked the township to do something about the noise and the smell from portable toilets, and he worries what is in some 55-gallon drums being stored there. “Fifteen years ago (the neighbor) got a variance to store his boat and camper in his machine shop. The boat and camper are still outside, and he chopped down all the trees and stinks up the neighborhood.

“That area is all on well water,” he added. “For 15 years, the township sends somebody down and he’ll clean it up, and a month later it’s the same thing again.”

Mayor Ray Gormley said he would have the code enforcement officer pull the entire file and go over it.

George Martin, president of the Pinelands Junior Wildcats Football and Cheerleaders Club, said his group, with the help of public works, is in the process of converting a soccer field to a football field at the Little Egg Harbor sports complex off Route 539. The club used to practice at the Pinelands Regional High School varsity fields, but they are closed now for refurbishing. “We represent 300 families who participate in youth football and cheerleading. We have raised 90 percent of the funds to make it happen; we have the goal posts and the scoreboard, and we’d like your help.”

Gormley asked Martin to stay after the regular municipal meeting to talk about liability insurance. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to do something,” he said.

Martin said the group would like to start practice in late July.

—Pat Johnson

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