TOMS RIVER – The township police EMS will expand, but some residents were concerned that two police administration positions will not be filled to make up for the cost.
Like many towns, Toms River has a paid EMS due to volunteerism going down over the past couple decades. They are under the police department.
Last year, residents on a strip of Toms River land over the bridge said that it could take 20 minutes to get an ambulance. This wait could potentially be longer if the bridge is up.
One of Mayor Dan Rodrick’s campaign promises was to have an ambulance there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Recently, he put the pieces into place to guarantee these protections for the shore residents.
“This is a life or death matter,” he said.
However, some residents spoke in opposition to how this is being funded.
There are two police captains who are retiring. Rodrick’s plan is not to refill those positions, and use the money to fund the staff for the round-the-clock ambulance with eight new EMS staff.
“I think the chief and the deputy chief are perfectly capable of overseeing” the six lieutenants, Rodrick said.
He said former Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill, who said it wasn’t financially feasible to have another ambulance on the island, left him with a $3.5 million shortfall.
Residents and former police officers spoke out against the cutting of these positions, and the firing of the civilian police information officer, Jillian Messina.
The introduction of this change was not unanimous. Councilmen James Quinlisk and David Ciccozzi – who are from a different Republican club than Rodrick and the rest of the council – voted against it.
Rodrick took issue with the characterization that he is shrinking the police force. The positions being cut are administrative, not officers out on a beat. Meanwhile, an ambulance will be on the streets, making people safer.
Changes like this need to be done by ordinances passed by the Township Council. During a January 18 meeting, the council introduced the ordinance. On a January 31 meeting, they are expected to vote on it. If it passes, it goes into effect 20 days later.
Meetings are held at 7 p.m. in town hall downtown. However, with the large amount of public interest in this issue, the meeting was moved to a Zoom only event.