Police See Fewer Calls & Crashes

Photo by Chris Lundy

  STAFFORD – The Stafford Township Police Department is counting fewer calls for service, and are measuring the success of the department’s community initiatives in the 2018 Annual Report.

  Chief Thomas Dellane presented some of the major findings in the 2018 report at a recent Township Council meeting.

  “The Annual Report is a document that the police department began producing in 2017…it’s a document that is intended to provide information to…inform how the tax dollars are being spent, where it’s going to, provide an idea about some of our community initiatives” and crime statistics, said Dellane.

2018 Statistics

  According to Dellane, 2018 saw fewer calls for service than the previous year, reaching a total of 29,978. In 2017, Dellane estimates the number was closer to 32,000.

  “Every time someone calls the police department and a police officer is dispatched to a call, we generate a case number,” he explained. “However, the amount of time that officers are spending on the call are increasing,” by almost four minutes per call from 2016.

  “That is a staggering number,” he added.

  There were also 12,649 recorded traffic stops and 3,993 motor vehicle summonses.

  Dellane noted the difference between the amount of traffic stops and the amount of summonses issued, stating “we have a very progressive traffic enforcement program here in Stafford…and over the last four years the number of motor vehicle accidents we’re experiencing in Stafford is trending down,” calculating 1,037 MVAs in 2018.

  While it has not been confirmed, Dellane attributes the decrease to the excess of construction and road work going on around town.

  Breaking it down, those 1,037 accidents are comprised of:

  • 788 non-injury
  • 138 hit and run
  • 1 fatal
  • 127 injury

  As Dellane noted, these figures have been trending down over the past four years, decreasing from 1,114 in 2015.

  This was also the second year in which Stafford participated in the You Text, You Drive, You Pay grant opportunity between April 1-21, 2018. This enforcement detail yielded 22 cell phone summonses and one arrest out of 864 total stops.

  Other districted driving campaigns include Click It or Ticket, which ran from May 21-June 3, 2018. This yielded 31 seatbelt summonses and 25 arrests.

  Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, Dec. 7-Jan. 1, yielded five DWIs.

  In addition, 2018 saw 727 arrests and 52 total DWI arrests.

Community Policing Initiatives

  As Dellane noted, 2018 saw much fewer calls for service overall, but did mark an increase in the amount of time officers were spending on individual calls. This trend is a result, in part, of the various community policing programs that Stafford Police has taken on within the last few years.

  “We have a very robust number of programs here…placing a greater emphasis on de-escalation and trying to work through problems,” such as mental health and substance abuse, said Dellane.

  On POINT: The On POINT program, which stands for Proactive Outreach In Needs of Treatment, is a partnership between the police department and Ocean Mental Health Services to provide on-site social workers in the police department two days per week.

  “The focus of law enforcement has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, where we’re still law enforcement, we’re still peacekeepers but there is more of an emphasis on trying to address the social service needs of our community,” he explained.

  On POINT addresses issues with mental health, substance abuse, and social services. As the report itself describes it, “police officers restore peace, but they are not sufficiently trained to address the underlying cause of behavioral and mental health issues, therefore, are often forced to respond multiple times to the same address for crisis incidents.”

  By combining resources, in 2018, police were able to make 88 referrals to On POINT.

  Blue HART: Undertaking a task similar to that of On POINT, the Blue HART program is helping officers save the lives of those plagued with addiction. Blue HART stands for Heroin Addiction Recovery and Treatment.   

  “This program works directly with municipal police departments and treatment providers to assist Ocean County residents into treatment. Any person who voluntarily requests help with their addiction will receive screening to participate in the program,” according to the report.

  In 2018, 32 individuals were processed into treatment facilities in Stafford.

  In an effort to incorporate the community more into the policing process, Stafford Police host a Youth Police Academy and Citizens Police Academy.

  The 2018 Youth Police Academy took place June 25-29, where 31 cadets from Stafford Intermediate and Southern Regional Middle School had the opportunity to learn about military drill, physical training, SWAT, K9, investigations, traffic, DWI enforcement, radar, and took trips to the NJSP Marine Unit and the US Coast Guard Station on Long Beach Island.

  More for the older crowd, the 2018 Citizens Police Academy invited students 16 and older to participate in an 8-week course at police headquarters. In 2018, 10 students had the opportunity to became familiarized with the Stafford Patrol Division, Traffic Unit, Detective Bureau, Emergency Management, SWAT, K9, and Community Policing.

  Stafford Police also hosted a series of family-friendly events to encourage communication with local law enforcement while also teaching kids about things like the dangers of substance abuse, such as:

  • Cops & Kids: a partnership with Stafford Recreations’ Municipal Alliance and the Walters Group
  • National Night Out: an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.
  • DARE: an international leader in Drug Prevention School Based Programs
  • Project AWARE: a New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) State-recognized, award-winning drug prevention program
  • #NotEvenOnce: a collaborative effort between law enforcement and educators with the goal of informing students about the dangers of opiates before they leave for college or enter the work force.

Police In Schools

  Following the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, many schools, including Stafford’s, began placing retired police officers in all school buildings to provide an added layer of security to students.

  These officers are designated Class III Special Police Officers known as School Resource Officers (SROs) and patrol the Southern Regional School campus.

  “Our SROs’ purpose is to reduce crime and the fear of crime in the school environment, investigate all crimes and police matters on school grounds, provide guidance, instruction, and response within and around the schools, and assisting school staff with maintaining a safe environment,” according to the report.

  During the 2018-2019 school year, Southern Regional schools were patrolled by four SROs, comprised of two retired Stafford Township Police Officers, one Beach Haven Police Officer, and one Long Beach Township Police Officer.

The Department

  The Stafford Township Police Department is comprised of 82 employees, 51 of which are sworn officers, serving a community of 28,844 residents and 1,252 registered businesses.

  In 2018, the department acquired six new hires: Ptl. John Reed, Ptl. Zach Wiatrowski, Ptl. Joe Niccoli, Special Officer Andrew Moslowitz, Dispatcher Katie Emme, and Dispatcher Taylor Myers. That same year, the department saw two retirements: Police Clerk Sandy Crapanzano and Police Clerk Linda Speck.

  Each year, one officer is named the Police Officer of the Year for demonstrating “a quality work ethic, high degree of professionalism, motivation, dedication, and integrity thus enhancing the police image and who distinguishes themselves within the law enforcement community.” In 2018, this award went to Ptl. Michael Wade.

  In addition, the Rick Drappi Award is awarded to a police officer “who has shown unselfish dedication, pride, and concern for others,” according to the report. Named for Patrolman Henry (Rick) Drappi, who lost his life in a motor vehicle accident in 1978, this award was presented to Ptl. Ed Kunder.

  Other 2018 awards include the Life Saving Award:

  • MPO Allen Jillson
  • MPO Edward Kunder
  • MPO Keith Oler
  • Dispatcher Lisa Vitale

  And the Police Excellence Award:

  • Sgt. David Johnson
  • Det. Drew Smith
  • MPO Edward Kunder
  • Sgt. Robert Conforti