BARNEGAT – Some might say that crime is at an all-time low in Barnegat Township lately. Police Chief Keith Germain credits these “historically low levels” in part to the department’s Crime Reduction Unit, and hopes to see even more success in 2019.
Barnegat Police have been working hard at tackling crime over the past year with the help of the agency’s newly created Crime Reduction Unit (CRU). Since the launch of the CRU in 2018, the unit has managed to score 125 arrests and over $80,000 in contraband, most of which were involved in drug-related incidents.
“What CRU accomplished in just one year is nothing short of outstanding,” stated Germain in a comprehensive post of CRU statistics to social media.
In 2018, the CRU managed:
- 125 arrests, 79 of which involved drug distribution
- The seizure of over $80,000 in contraband, including $15,000 in heroin, $8,000 in cocaine, $12,000 in US currency, and $40,000 worth of vehicles used in the commission of a crime.
- 10 executed search warrants
These numbers are significant for the fully-staffed unit that was launched just one year ago. But how does the crime-fighting CRU differ from what the standard police officer does every day?
Well, according to Germain, “CRU differs from normal operational duties because drug, gang, and high-value investigations require a much greater commitment of time and resources as well as specialized skills. CRU members are able to conduct surveillance, make controlled purchases, and develop intelligence. Officers assigned to uniformed patrol have a very different set of functions and responsibilities and wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to those types of investigations.”
The CRU allows a special team of officers to hone in on those drug and gang related crimes while other officers focus on answering the constant calls for service the department sees each day, such as the 18,000-plus calls Barnegat saw in 2018.
“Uniformed patrol officers are wearing multiple hats during their shifts while answering well over 1,000 calls of differing natures every month. They simply wouldn’t be able to focus on these specific offenses like CRU does,” Germain told Jersey Shore Online.
CRU officers focus solely on drug, gang, and high-value investigations, he explained. This type of work has CRU officers investigating “trends, reports of drug related activity, and intelligence to determine subjects and areas that are contributing to an outsized percentage of offenses.”
The CRU is invested in identifying, locating, and stopping crime activity in certain areas of the community. It is more than just nabbing a suspect and placing them in cuffs. Germain said that “CRU members develop relationships with stakeholders in those areas so that they are working with the community collaboratively to solve the problem.”
The extent to which the CRU is cleaning up the community can be seen clearly in the data. The department noted that the CRU’s various drug charges seized substances from heroin to methamphetamine; non-drug charges revealed discretions anywhere from the possession of a handgun to prostitution.
While Barnegat Police are calling 2018 a success for the CRU, the department still has plans to grow and build on that for 2019.
“CRU has grown to five full-time members, so we’ll be seeking a first-line supervisor in the unit as well as evaluating their needs to see if adding additional personnel to the unit is warranted,” in 2019, said Germain.
Unfortunately, the CRU’s job is not nearly finished. According to Germain, one of the biggest problems on Ocean County’s list: increasing number of gang members.
“Part of the reason that CRU was created was to proactively address the threat of gangs before they become a problem here. There are significantly more gang members in and around Ocean County than when I started my career 25 years ago, and I believe that a unit like CRU is the single best tool we can use to keep Barnegat the safe, low-crime town that it has become,” he explained.
Germain also made sure to thank the Barnegat community and township committee for the support and positivity that keeps the department running efficiently.