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Little Egg Harbor police did more with less in 2014

Little Egg Harbor police did more with less in 2014

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LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The police department did more with less for the first half of last year, but then saw higher arrests and lower overtime costs after township approved the rehiring of officers from layoffs in 2010, the chief said.

The department created a street crimes unit, conducted more motor vehicle stops and filed more charges in 2014 than the year before, police said.

“We’ve been able to stabilize crime and make the streets safer,” said Chief Richard Buzby.

Layoffs in 2010 left the department with fewer officers, the chief said.

The combination of layoffs and several retirements was a 32 percent cut for the department, which originally had 50 officers to patrol the 73-square-mile town, the chief said.

The department currently has 40 officers but had just 36 at one point in March 2014, Buzby said.

“We have been fortunate enough to replace officers in 2014. But it was due to the budget ... we were able to make it happen,” said Mayor Art Midgley.

There were 480 criminal charges filed in 2014, an increase of about 1.5 percent over the 475 criminal charges filed the year before, Buzby said.

“With the reduced staffing in the first half of the year, we experienced a 33 percent decrease in charges filed,” he said.

In the second half of the year, the department received additional manpower and saw an increase in charges, he said.

The department created a two-man street crimes unit while still maintaining a presence in the schools. The officers who make up the special unit work undercover with police from neighboring jurisdictions.

In the first six months of its existence, the street crimes unit made 73 arrests, 18 of which were for narcotics distribution, the chief said.

He said the department solved more crimes last year than in 2013, which meant more of the township’s burglary victims got their stolen property returned.

“Our overall solved crime rate improved nearly 11 percent over last year,” Buzby said.

In 2014, the department had a 90 percent increase in search warrants, 50 percent increase in searches, 37 percent increase in heroin seizures, 91 percent increase in narcotic pill seizures and a 662 percent increase in marijuana seizures.

Midgley said he was proud of the police department.

“The police department is doing a good job,” the mayor said.

Contact Stephanie Loder:

609-272-7190

SLoder@pressofac.com

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