BRICK – In an agreement reached between the municipality and the Brick Township Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 230, officers would be switching from a four-day-on, two-day-off schedule to a four-day-on, four-day-off schedule by working longer days.
Not only would the new schedule improve the morale and quality of life for police officers, but it would save the township a minimum of $318,000 a year, with the potential of an annual savings of $500,000, said Mayor John G. Ducey at the January 24 council meeting.
“This is an exciting time. We get to do something innovative to save taxpayers money and also make some of our employees have an easier time with their personal and professional lives,” he said.
During a one-year trial period, the workday for patrol officers would increase to 10.25 hours, up from eight hours.
Officers currently work 2,019 hours a year, and they would continue to work 2,019 hours a year under the modified schedule, Ducey said.
The new schedule allows for increased police coverage during peak workloads, increased training without an adverse impact on the patrol schedule, and the ability for superior officers to grant time-off requests, he said.
As part of the agreement, officers would have 13 supplemental coverage days built into their schedule in five- or 10-hour increments that they would use for in-service training and schooling, and for coverage during special events for which they had previously received overtime pay, Ducey said.
The use of supplemental service days would maximize the amount of manpower on any given shift because officers would be staffed in peak hours with overlap during shift changes. In the past, police worked eight-hour shifts and there was no overlap, which frequently led to the need for overtime, he said.
Ducey said the seven highest areas of overtime pay – court security, special detail, Summerfest, Fall Fest, holiday patrols, boat unit and training – could be eliminated and covered instead by officer’s supplemental coverage days.
The supplemental service days would also be used for police coverage during Halloween, mischief night, community policing, Night Out Against Crime, targeted patrols and more, he said.
The mayor said the new schedule had been discussed for over a year when superior officers said that a change was needed, based on the growing number of patrol officers’ vacation requests that had to be denied due to staffing and the need to require overtime and double shifts.
The officers would see “an immediate and significant quality of life improvement” and supervisors will have the ability to staff the patrol division more equitably during peak times, Ducey said.
“Of course, from our financial perspective the overtime savings is hugely beneficial. This is a win-win for the township,” he added.
During public comment, John Bennette of Herbertsville said he wanted to commend the administration for working well with the PBA.
“You were able to work smarter, not harder,” he said.
“Police services aren’t cheap. When you dial 911 you expect someone to be there, and I know the expenditures are large, but it’s good to see that you’re constantly trying to be more efficient,” Bennette said.
The new work schedule was researched and developed by Police Chief James Riccio, Captain Donald Ling, Lieutenant Terrence Covert and members of PBA Local 320.
The next council meeting will be on February 7 at 7 p.m.