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FTPD Chief, Deputy Chief Positions To Be Replaced By Public Safety Director

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker would appoint and supervise the Public Safety Director. (File photo.)

An ordinance amendment that would replace the Chief and Deputy Chief of Police with a Public Safety Director is expected to be introduced at the July 9 Township Council meeting.

The ordinance amendment would also increase the number of Captains in the department from one to three and would modify disciplinary procedures within the department.

The creation of a Public Safety Director position in favor of a police chief has been the subject of rumors since at least before former Chief Richard Grammar was appointed in 2018. Grammar and Capt. Greg Borlan resigned as of June 30, prior to the July 1 assumption of the department’s administrative oversight by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the circumstances surrounding DUI charges filed in April against Patrolman Matthew Ellery, as well as other aspects of the department’s “internal operations,” according to a source with knowledge of the investigations.

Under the ordinance amendment scheduled to be introduced at the Council’s July 9 meeting, the Police Department would be renamed the Division of Police, and would fall under the Department of Public Safety.

The Public Safety Director would be chosen by and report to Township Manager Robert Vornlocker.

Under the amendment, “The Director of Public Safety … shall be directly responsible for the efficient and routine day to day operations of the Police Department. The Public Safety Director shall be charged with the duties of supervising the Division of Police in all areas and aspects as shall impact upon policy and the good order and discipline of the Division and shall adopt rules and regulations for the Division of Police and establish policies for the daily operation of the Division of Police and the discipline of its members.”

The Public Safety Director’s duties, as outlined by the amendment, are:

  • Administer and enforce the rules and regulations of the Police Department and any special emergency directive for the disposition and discipline of the Department and its members and officers;
  • Have exercise and discharge the functions, powers and duties of the Police Department;
  • Prescribe the duties and assignments of all members and officers;
  • Delegate such authority as may be deemed necessary for the efficient operation of the Police Department to be exercised under the Officers in Charge’s direction and control

The Public Safety Director will also be required to report at least monthly to the Township Manager.

There’s no mention in the amendment of the Public Safety Director position’s salary range. Grammar earned a salary of more than $197,000.

While specific promotion requirements for patrol and senior officers are delineated in the ordinance, the qualifications for the Public Safety Director are more vague: the candidate “shall be qualified by training and experience,” according to the ordinance amendment.

The ordinance as it stands contemplates only the promotion of a senior officer to chief, it does not cover qualifications needed for an officer to be hired from outside the department.

Among the qualifications needed for promotion to chief — language being excised under the ordinance amendment — are a promotional review including a review of the candidate’s file, an oral interview, a set of written essays, “Conceptual understanding of departmental needs and goals, both current and future” and “Demonstration of conceptual ability to pursue goals through the exercise of managerial skills.”

Under the current ordinance, disciplinary matters are handled by the Township Manager; that would change under the amendment, with the Public Safety Director assuming some of those responsibilities.

Both the Township Manager and Public Safety Director would have the authority to discipline an officer. An officer suspended, disciplined or removed by the Public Safety Director could ask for a hearing before the Township Manager, who may bring in a hearing officer.

After the hearing, the Township Manager can “reprimand, suspend, reduce in rank, fine or dismiss said member or employee of the Police Department from the service of the Township or exonerate him/her from such charges,” according to the amendment.

The Council meets at 7 p.m. in the Council Chamber in the Municipal Building on DeMott Lane.

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