The committee members discuss the possible budget changes for 2013. Credits: Danielle Nifenecker
Standing room only at this meeting as dispatchers, police officers, and firefighters share opinions on the possible cut of the dispatch station. Credits: Danielle Nifenecker
Brian Kithcart presents reasons for keeping the dispatch station. Credits: Danielle Nifenecker
Committee member Bob Smith announces his resignation effective October 31, 2012. Credits: Danielle Nifenecker
Officers and Dispatchers Share Opinions on Dispatch Center Proposal
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 • 12:45pm
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, NJ - With standing room only at the Andover Township Committee Meeting on Monday night, officers, firefighters and dispatchers said no to more cuts in the dispatch center.
Brian Kithcart, officer and president of FOP Lodge 177, presented three reasons for keeping the dispatchers in the Andover Township Police Department.
“With only one officer working at a time, it’s important to know there’s someone on the other end [helping with the arrest process],” Kithcart said.
He explained how dispatchers can be used as a witness inside the department when an officer brings an arrestee, preventing false accusations and keeping officers accountable for actions with prisoners.
He also expressed the importance of having female dispatchers to perform proper searches of a female suspect.
“Without a female present to perform the search, we could be waiting over an hour for a female officer to come in and help,” Kithcart said.
Richard Skewes, Andover Township resident, told the council that the cuts have to stop somewhere.
“I understand you need to fix the budget, but you can’t continually cut the community assets. Soon there will be nothing left to eliminate,” Skewes said.
Mayor Michael Lensak explained that they must look at every aspect of the budget before making a decision, and this discussion is part of that due diligence.
I agree with everything you’re saying, but we need to look at all these options,” Lensak said.
At the suggestion of one resident, the committee will present the cost per resident to run the dispatch center from Andover Township, and the cost of outsourcing to the county during the meeting in two weeks.
Several weeks ago, the committee passed a resolution for a two-year cooling-down period for committee members after they retire, when they would not be allowed to work for a company that they had helped during their time in office.
After this was passed, the committee presented the resolution for the entire county to adopt. Committee member Tom Walsh stated that after this proposal, he received a call from the county administrator saying he would never adopt such a resolution countywide.
According to Walsh, the administrator said that after reading the resolution, the township attorney must have been drunk when he wrote it. Walsh publically demanded an apology from the administrator for attacking the character of municipal attorney Fred Semrau.
Deputy Mayor Gail Phoebus explained the history of this resolution as a bi-partisan federal law passed in 1977.
“It’s just good government,” Phoebus said.
In other business:
- The committee passed an ordinance making the Current Drive, from Limecrest Road to Newton Sparta Road, a one-way street. Committee member Bob Smith voted no to the ordinance, stating that this portion is the least of the problem roads and the township should be consistent with these roads. The other committee members said the other probems roads are actually county roads, or owned with other towns and cannot be dealt with by the township. “We have to start somewhere,” Chief Gil Taglialatela said, who proposed the change originally.
- Phoebus expressed the need for volunteers on behalf of the Champions for Charity, the county food bank. These volunteers are serving many families and need help with many different responsibilities, such as unloading food from delivery buses.
- Smith announced his resignation from the committee, effective October 31, 2012. He has served on the committee for seven years, and as mayor for a year. He has been involved with many of the boards, and helped the township save money over the years, Smith said. Personally, Smith added, he has saved the committee hundreds of dollars by not taking health benefits or a salary during his time as a committee member.