A new 12-hour schedule for South Orange Police will save the department and town money and — more importantly — will increase public safety, according to Village President Sheena Collum.
At the August 22 South Orange Board of Trustees meeting, Collum announced that, after years of negotiations and work, the township and the two police unions (PBA Local 12 and the Superior Officers Association) had struck an agreement moving police from 10-hour-and-40-minute shifts to 12-hour shifts.
Collum said the impetus for the shift in shifts came out of a 2011 police best practices study commissioned by the Board of Trustees and conducted by the International City/County Management Association that suggested “looking at the inefficiency of the schedule.” The 10-hour-40-minute shifts were leading to massive overtime, said Collum — around a half million dollars annually in recent years. In addition, the schedule also had the largest capacity of the force working at times when “calls for services were not very high,” said Collum, for example, at 2 p.m. instead of later at night when car break-ins and other crimes are taking place.
The new schedule will cut down on overtime as it allows for more hours in each officer’s annual schedule, said Collum. She argued that it would also lead to better police coverage at times when calls are at peak. In a followup message to Village Green, Collum added that the “new schedule also allows us to beef up our traffic bureau initiatives with increased enforcement, speeding and pedestrian safety details.”
Meanwhile, “We are compensating all officers for the difference,” Collum noted, saying the the town was fully invested in appropriately compensating police for their work. Police would be compensated for the additional hours in their base salaries with a 2% increase “on top of that.”
“We should see a reduction in overtime and see improvements in crime statistics,” Collum told the Trustees. Collum thanked the Township business administration and the police union representatives for their work in the negotiations.
The new schedule became effective July 31.
Collum also gave an update on racial intelligence training for police officers that had been announced in July. South Orange had been working with Maplewood, West Orange and Montclair to offer the training. However, new legislation signed by Gov. Christie mandating such training had inadvertently thrown a wrench into plans.
“We were being proactive, not reactive,” said Collum, but “we need to ensure that the training we were going to do is going to meet the requirements of the State.” Due to the legislation, West Orange and Montclair are holding off on the training.
On Thursday, August 25, Collum informed Village Green that South Orange and Maplewood have agreed to move forward with the training: “This was a promise I made at the #NotInOurTwoTowns event and Mayor DeLuca [of Maplewood] agreed. Both [South Orange Police] Chief Kroll and [Maplewood Police] Chief Cimino are coming back to the governing bodies with a plan of action in the next month.”