As reported by nj.com, a consultant’s report on the advantages of sharing Bordentown Township and Bordentown City police services was met with skepticism from the public, though officials urged people to give the idea serious consideration. Despite being separate municipalities, the two Bordentowns could and should have a shared police force, according to the presentation, which consisted of findings from a 2 ½ year study conducted by Patriot Consulting Group, a Longbranch-based local government operations consulting firm.
Patriot concluded that the move would not produce savings for the municipalities, but would increase police services at no extra expense for taxpayers. Patriot’s president, Brian Valentino, said shared police services was already happening across the two municipalities and his plan would simply formalize the procedures for those situations. His group also recommended that the move be a step toward an eventual consolidation of the two police forces.
Once the police departments are fully unified, services would increase through the creation of a new division dedicated to community activities, such as youth clubs, according to Valentino’s recommendations. The report also calls for the creation of individual traffic, patrolling and criminal investigation bureaus that would allow officers to specialize in those areas, rather than generally work in all three, Valentino said. Still, the idea seemed unpopular with many residents at a public meeting, who also seemed to believe the move could not be accomplished without costing taxpayers more.
Sharing services is becoming more commonplace in New Jersey as costs rise and governing officials seeks alternatives to raising taxes. Many, including some state officials, are advocating full consolidation of services and even municipalities. However, the loss of local control, other political ramifications and the costs to wealthier towns of merging with less affluent districts have been insurmountable obstacles in many cases.
In Hightstown, a four-year discussion to consolidate police forces with neighbor East Windsor fell apart recently, when Hightstown Borough Council members made a decision to instead renew their town’s police contracts for another five years. Princeton Township and Borough are weighing something more ambitious, a total consolidation of the two municipalities. Late last month a panel of representatives from both towns recommended that the towns’ governing bodies consider holding a referendum on the issue.
As for the Bordentowns, the plan will remain in the discussion phase for some time before the municipalities decide to take any actions, according to Bordentown Township Mayor Michael Dauber.