Bernards Due to Decide on Regional PD in July
Township Committee creates subcommittee to study consolidation proposal from Somerset County.
The Bernards Township Committee will decide in July whether the township is interested in joining a countywide police department.
At its meeting Tuesday, the governing body created a subcommittee to investigate the proposal, unveiled earlier this month. Sitting on the subcommittee will be Deputy Mayor Carolyn Gaziano, Committeeman John Carpenter, who serves as the township’s police commissioner, Township Administrator Bruce McArthur and Police Chief Brian Bobowicz.
Carpenter said one of the subcommittee’s first tasks is to create a timeline to make a decision. He said he is sure the township could meet an Aug. 1 deadline set by Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano. He said a decision might be made at the July 24 Township Committee meeting.
The feasibility study, commissioned in 2010 and led by the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office, suggested that Bernards join Bernardsville, Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone and Bedminster as one of five precincts in the county. The report also found that none of the departments’ existing facilities are “sufficient” to serve as a precinct headquarters. The study suggested research could be done in leasing an existing building near exit 33 of Route 78 or exit 26 of Route 287.
Gaziano said the subcommittee will “take apart” a report prepared by Soriano and Dr. Richard Celeste, director of the Somerset County Police Academy on the feasibility of a police regionalization. The goal, Gaziano said, is to see how a regionalizated police department would affect Bernards.
The study has found that Bernards, with one of the lowest crime rates in Somerset County, could save an estimated $1.4 million over 10 years if it joined a county police force.
Carpenter previously said he had “a lot of reservations” about Bernards joining the regional department. He said he questions how such a regional department might save money for Bernards, or improve service for residents.