With three major state roads passing through South Brunswick, the Township Council is considering a plan to add two officers to a special detail focusing on traffic problems.
During a presentation Tuesday evening, South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka, Sgt. Jim Ryan, and Sgt. Chris Giampietro explained the Special Law Enforcement Officer Program, which is most commonly used by Jersey shore police departments for added personnel during the summer.
"The number one complaint we get is traffic complaints," Hayducka said. "This would be the primary focus."
The special officers go through the academy and the same training as full time officers. However, unlike full time officers, the special officers do not have the same law enforcement powers when they're not on duty. They are required to meet the same performance and training standards as full time officers.
The special officers would work part time and would be paid an hourly wage, which would be in the $18 to $20 per hour range. They do not receive benefits or compensatory time. Special officers are limited to less than 20 hours per week, as a supplement to the full time staff covering traffic and parking, traffic control, court security and prisoner escorts.
Hayducka said the special officers could be assigned to specific details that the current force of 73 officers doesn't have the time to cover.
"We could put our (current) officers on traffic detail all day, but we have to answer calls," he said.
Locally, police departments in East Brunswick and Jamesburg use special officers to supplement their full time force. Giampietro explained the officers could be used in a variety of ways to improve problem areas for motorists.
"This program would allow us to assign special officers at an hourly rate to specific details," he said.
Giampietro said, for example, if commuters running red lights at the intersection of Route 130 and Fresh Ponds Road was a problem, the special officers could be assigned to perform enforcement and education at that intersection without taking officers away from other duties.
The cost of adding the officers would be $1,000 for testing, $2,000 for uniforms and equipment, and $240 for Hepatitis B shots, in addition to the hourly rate. The revenue generated by the officers through traffic enforcement would recuperate those funds within the first 60 summonses issued, according to police.
The proposal will return for discussion during the budget process for 2013 to see if the program fits within department spending.
"It's worthy to me as long as they have to go through the same training like any other officer," said Mayor Frank Gambatese. "If it can save us time and put more officers on the roads then we can take a look at it."
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