For the Evesham Township Police Department, 2013 was a year filled with new initiatives, new department divisions, a new chief of police and a complete overhaul to the department’s existing command structure.
Those changes and more are outlined in the department’s recently released 2013 annual report.
In Chief Christopher Chew’s introduction to the report, he calls 2013 “a challenging as well as exciting time for the ETPD,” and outlines the department’s priority to “provide the most effective and efficient services to the citizens and business owners of Evesham Township.”
The report outlines how in recent years, declining local, state and federal budgets has forced the department to meet the challenge of doing more with less.
Police annual budget operating costs, which does not include personnel, in 2011 were $397,650. In 2012 the operating costs were down to $337,000. In 2013 the costs were $319,500.
In 2010 the department had 76 full-time sworn officers. In 2013 that number was down to 68.
Public information officer Lt. Joseph Friel said one way the department has combated those reductions was the implementation of the Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety system.
DDACTS is a law enforcement model that overlaps traffic and crime data on a map of Evesham, allowing the department to determine what areas are in the most need of additionally deployed officers or resources.
Friel said the system then works as a deterrent to unsafe drivers and would-be criminals, as with the increased presence of officers in high traffic areas, the department is able to give the appearance of having a larger police force than it actually does.
“It’s really just working smarter, putting officers and supervisors in the right position to succeed,” Friel said.
According to the report, DDACTS led to a 30 percent decrease in burglaries, a 22 percent decrease in shopliftings, a 5 percent decrease in motor vehicle crashes and a 14 percent increase in DWI arrests.
The department was also able to hire a civilian crime analyst, who was then used to assist in raising the efficiency of how personnel were deployed through analyzing new trends, traffic, and crime hot spots.
“We hired a civilian crime analyst,” Friel said. “That was a position that was covered by a sworn officer…now we have an officer back on the street.”
In 2013 the department was also able to work with the mayor and township council to revise the township’s precious metal ordinance. With secondhand and transient dealers now required to keep electronic records of sales of gems, metals, jewelry and electronics, the department is able to more quickly locate stolen
items and return them to the original owner before the property is melted down or resold once more.
“That was big on our end,” Friel said. “We had officers spending 10 or 20 hours a week entering that data and now it does it automatically.”
The department also
purchased an additional three automated license plate readers that were mounted to patrol vehicles.
The ALPRs are special cameras that make license plates visible despite weather or time , instead of officers having to manually check.
Friel said the system also allows the department to later go back and search through the many cars that may have been in an area at the time of a crime if the police believe they might have a suspect.
“Each one is reading thousands of tags a day,” Friel said. “Everyday we’re using the data those ALPRs collected.”
According to the report, redirecting department workload through the creation and restructuring of divisions also increased efficiency.
An administrative division was created, and an internal affairs bureau was created to remove internal affairs functions from the professional standard bureau.
Recently, the department also started a Pinterest account, in addition to the other social media tools the department has been utilizing to increase transparency and receive tips from the public.
“That’s something we’re
very proud of,” Friel said. “We’re the largest municipal
Facebook page in the state of N.J.”
According to the report, for 2014 the department is looking to establish a health and wellness program, research body worn cameras and an online reporting system, develop an awards and recognition program and develop and implement a police explorers program
Regarding the challenges ahead, in the report, Chew
said he is “excited to work with the citizens of Evesham Township very closely as we
continue to work together in achieving our goal of making the township the safest community in the area.”