HomeMedford NewsCouncil discusses opportunity to hire new police officers

Council discusses opportunity to hire new police officers

Township council discussed the opportunity to hire new police officers through a grant program.

According to township manager Chris Schultz, the federal grant program would provide funds to hire new officers. It is a three-year program in which the municipality supports 25 percent of the cost of salary and benefits up to $125,000 per officer. By the fourth year, the officer is paid in full by the municipality. Additionally, there is a waiver provision for part or all if the municipality can demonstrate severe fiscal distress.

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“We don’t know where we’re going to be in four years,” Police Chief Richard Meder said. “We need to start planning for the future. Significant officers are about to hit the 20-year mark.”

Meder doesn’t want to be left short if the department loses officers to retirement, family reasons, etc. The grant would provide him with the ability to re-establish officers lost through layoffs. According to Meder, there will not be a “huge procedural change” as far as hiring new officers. He expressed his frustration to the council about staffing limits. Additionally, the department would make an effort to seek officers already trained to avoid the financial responsibility of sending a new recruit to the academy, a savings for the township.

“I can’t guarantee it, but we’re going to try,” Meder said.

The council supported the decision to place an application with the program. According to Meder, a decision will not be made until September.

In other news:
• The council will begin discussing a township smoking prohibition.

According to Schultz, the matter came up in 2011 but was never acted upon. He noted the possibility of such an ordinance was always on the township’s radar, however the original draft was strict. The discussion would modify the ordinance and cite examples from surrounding townships, including Evesham Township and Cherry Hill Township, both of which recently passed ordinances banning smoking on township property or township parks.

“The ordinance just needs to make sense,” said council member James “Randy” Pace.

The council will be looking further into the option.

• Council members, in addition to Schultz, and Burlington County staff member Ralph Shrom, met with Freeholder Leah Arter to discuss the library, according to Mayor Frank Czekay.

“It was productive,” Czekay said. “We agreed to move forward and agreed to draft plans for their project.”
Arter previously agreed to provide a $30,000 reimbursement for maintenance, cleaning and utilities. In addition, Arter has been proposing an improvement project that includes a significant upgrade to the Allen Avenue library.

“We will meet to go over plans in place,” Czekay said. “The county will reimburse costs [previously agreed upon]. Going forward, they need to decide what they want to do.”

According to Czekay, both parties are interested in scheduling another meeting in the next two months or so.

Czekay expressed a need to know by the end of the year to plan for the 2014 budget. Additionally, the mayor mentioned the possibility of a new library location in Medford, though the idea was still unexplored and numerous details needed work. The budget is still in line for approval from the state. According to Schultz, the township has submitted all the proper paperwork on deadline, and the township is waiting on final approval prior to adoption. Schultz noted minor changes to the budget, including adding the $30,000 reimbursement for the library expected from the county.

The next meeting will be May 21 at the Public Safety Building.


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