Long Hill Township Debates Police Department Size and Spending

The Long Hill Town Council meeting addressed several issues, with the most pressing being the debate over the size and funding of the Long Hill Township Police Department. The discussion was sparked by a public comment from a resident concerning the department’s staffing levels in relation to the population size, as well as the controversial proposition of hiring a new Public Safety Director. The meeting also included discussions on the township’s administrative code, recognition of local students and athletes, and updates from various departments.

The focal point of the meeting emerged during the public comments section when Pamela Owens, a resident from Millington, raised concerns about the size of the Long Hill Township Police Department. Owens compared Long Hill Township’s police force, with 23 officers for a population of approximately 9,000 people, to a neighboring township with 30 officers for a population of 30,000. Her remarks, which included an anecdote about officers from another township suggesting they should apply to work in Long Hill due to seemingly favorable staffing ratios, ignited a broader debate among the attendees about the adequacy and justification for the current size of the local police department.

The discussion extended into the consideration of hiring a new director for Public Safety. Questions arose regarding the transparency of the hiring process and whether there was a conflict of interest involved. The role’s necessity in a township with a similar size and crime rate to others without such a position was questioned.

Another major topic of discourse was the potential financial implications of the police department’s expenditures. The debate brought to light the allocation of approximately $2.7 million in taxpayer funds, which would cover the hiring of a new Public Safety Director and an executive assistant, among other expenses. The merit of these investments was examined, with discussions about the financial burden on taxpayers and the importance of these roles in ensuring community safety.

Further into the meeting, the committee engaged in a discussion about the need to update the township’s administrative code due to changes over time. This conversation included the appointment of various officials, such as the administrator, assessor, and tax collector, and highlighted the limited control the township has over their functions. The discussion also touched on statutory positions and the establishment of statutory boards, commissions, and committees, as well as advisory and ad hoc committees, each with specific powers and duties. The unique nature of Long Hill Township’s form of government was compared to neighboring towns.

The committee also provided an update from the Recreation Department, detailing ongoing programs and the introduction of new initiatives. Notably, the summer concert series and the addition of a new pickleball court were mentioned.

In addition to these topics, the meeting included moments of recognition for community members. The winners of the 2024 fire safety poster contest, Audrey Tracy and Alina Belfield, were acknowledged for their contributions, and their artwork will be featured in the New Jersey Fire Prevention calendar. The Central Middle School girls and boys basketball teams were also recognized for their successful season and championship victory.

The meeting concluded with a motion to retire to Executive session to discuss topics listed on the agenda, with no further action taken in the public forum.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Guy Piserchia
City Council Officials:
Scott Lavender, Brendan Rae, Victor Verlezza, Matthew Dorsi

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