CLAYTON FREE PRESS
Clayton & Elk Police “Merger” coming?
Study has been in the works for more than a year – but what will be the outcome?
Another not so well kept secret – like the Borough’s ongoing dispute with its own Crossing Guards – appears to be coming to a head: The creation of a new combined Police Department which will replace the Clayton and Elk Police Departments.
According to official sources, Clayton Borough Council and Elk Township officials have been studying the benefits – and impacts – that would result from a merger of the two municipality’s Police Departments, as part of the State-driven “Shared Services” program since 2016.
Elk Township, which is more than 19.2 square miles in size, hosts a population base of 4,134 persons. It has had its share of concerns with its Police Department since 2017. In March of this year, it was announced that Elk Township officials suspended two police officers with the intent to terminate due to serious deficiencies identified in a thorough investigation by the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office concerning the managerial and detective functions of the Police Department. In November of 2017, another Elk Police Officer was charged by the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office with official misconduct and theft. According to unofficial sources, Elk maintains a Police Force of between 9 and 11 Officers, while Clayton – with an estimated population base of around 8,700 persons, maintains a force of 15 full time and two part-time officers.
The Clayton Police Department itself has only recently emerged from under a two year supervisory arrangement with the Gloucester County Prosecutors’ Office. In June of 2014, the Prosecutors’ Office, at the request Clayton’s Mayor and Council, took over the day-to-day operations of the Clayton Police Department.
That arrangement ended with the promotion of then Sergeant Andrew Davis to Police Chief on August 11th, 2016.
According to Elk Township Mayor Ed Poisker, a study was done for both Clayton and Elk Township Police Departments to “evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of each Department”. Both towns entered into a cost sharing initiative to split the cost of the study for each town. The study is in draft form and “no decisions have been made”, according to Poisker. When the Clayton Free Press requested a copy of the draft study from Clayton Borough officials in October, we were informed that “the requested record constitutes draft inter-agency or intra-agency advisory, consultative or deliberative materials, which are exempt from disclosure under both OPRA and the common law.” In other words, it is not publicly available – at least, not yet.
Several questions were submitted in writing the Clayton Mayor Bianco and Clayton Police Chief Davis prior to press time, and their responses will but reported in our January 2019 issue.
Police Department consolidations are nothing new in New Jersey. In October of last year it was announced that the Newfield Police Department would be “disbanded” on November 1st, with the Franklin Township Police Department assuming complete policing responsibility for the two municipalities. In an interview at the time, Franklin Administrator Nancy Brent Kennedy was reported to say that “the five-year agreement calls for the borough to pay $425,000 to the township in the first year. The amount was to rise to $494,190 in year five of the contract, which expires in 2022.
Also at the time of the Franklin and Newfield agreement, State Senator Steve Sweeney was actively involved in facilitating negotiations and in “helping several officers from the Newfield Police Department to find employment elsewhere”. According to sources, “a few” of the former Officers are dissatisfied with the outcome. According to two municipal sources, Sweeney is also engaged in the current Clayton / Elk negotiations “to some extent”.
A number of municipalities in New Jersey have integrated Police Departments over the last decade. Princeton Borough and Princeton Township merged Police Departments, saving money on both operations and pension fund contributions – leading to an estimated $3.2 million in savings. Others have not been so fortunate. “Its only a matter of time”, speculated one municipal official. “I can foresee the day when both Departments will be disbanded, like what happened in Newfield – but the question is, what will remain and when will it happen”?
We’ll keep you informed as we learn more. If you have questions, comments or opinions you would like to share with other Clayton or Elk residents, or with Clayton or Elk municipal officials, please feel free to send them to us at Clayton Free Press via email to: Editor@NJFreePress.Com. We will pass them on and see if we can get you answers. We’ll also report on our findings.
Clayton Clippers of the month for November 2018
Our 14 Clayton Clippers of the Month for November included:
In Simmons Elementary School, Eli McCrary, Connor Keane, Olivia Herman, Aneline Kowalski, Ava Schneeman, Chase Allen, and Kyleigh Grigorean stood out for special recognition.
In Clayton Middle School, honors were given to Caleb Martinez, James Davis and Brandon Williams.
In Clayton High School, our Clippers of the Month included Makayla Lowell,Jose, Martinero, Rebecca Gourley and Joseph Barron.
Congratulations to our Clippers from the Clayton Free Press and the proud residents of your Clayton community!
You can read our December 2018 issue below:
PS. Please don’t forget to visit, like and follow us on Facebook!
CLAYTON FREE PRESS – New Jersey Free Press, LLC
P.O. Box 201, Clayton, NJ 08312
MISS OUR WVLT BROADCAST ON DECEMBER 1, 2018?
Joining us live on Saturday, December 1st was LESHA CUTTAIA from the cast of VICE network’s program “DOPESICK NATION” (https://www.viceland.com/en_us/show/dopesick-nation). She also serves as co-founder and Director of the “Fxxk Heroin Foundation”.
Lesha shared with our audience the story of how she dealt with the addiction of her son (Frank Holmes, also featured on the program), and talked about many issues related to substance abuse, addiction, treatment and recovery.
Lesha will join us for future broadcasts.
You can hear & download a copy of our December 1st WVLT broadcast by visiting our Facebook, at: https://www.facebook.com/ClaytonNJFreePress/
To reach Lesha and the FHF organization, go here: https://fuckheroinfoundation.com/
Publishers and Editors, The Clayton Free Press
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How to contact your Borough Elected Officials
All of the following can be reached through the Borough switchboard, at: 856-881-2882
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