Ordinance Overturned, But Toms River Police Cuts Stay

Township Clerk Michael Cruoglio, seated beside assistant township attorney Peter Pascarella, read a statement into record about the police ordinance. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  TOMS RIVER – A controversial ordinance that cut two police captains will be overturned, however the positions won’t return.

  Two captains are retiring this year. Instead of refilling these positions by promoting from within, Mayor Daniel Rodrick chose to cut those two positions, in a move he said would save the town $700,000. He said this would free up the money to provide a year-round, 24/7 ambulance stationed on the barrier island.

  A group of residents held protests and got a petition signed by enough voters that the ordinance had to go back to the Township Council. The council had to decide to either repeal the ordinance or allow the issue to go on the ballot during an election.

  However, Rodrick said that restructuring the department can be done administratively and didn’t need the council’s vote.

  “The fact is I never needed the ordinance,” Rodrick said in a prepared statement. “With or without that ordinance, the captains are not coming back.”

Archived photo: Mayor Daniel Rodrick and Business Administrator Jon Salonis (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  Councilwoman Lynn O’Toole took issue with the characterization of this change. The petitioners accused them of defunding the police.

  “We’re not defunding, we’re just not refilling two positions,” she said. “The salaries are outrageous.” 

  The council voted to repeal the ordinance. Council President Craig Coleman, and council members Justin Lamb, George Lobman, Thomas Nivison, and O’Toole voted to repeal but still agreed with the mayor’s reasons for cutting the administrative positions to save money. Councilmen David Ciccozzi and James Quinlisk voted to repeal because they didn’t think the cuts should have been made.

  In a previous interview, one of the creators of the petition, Phil Brilliant, argued that there’s no such thing as an executive order from the mayor to change the township code. Only the Township Council can change codes. If he tries to strongarm it through, that could end up in lawsuits and grievances.