Saturday, September 25, 2010

Acting chief acts!

Tom Haas, Millville's acting police chief hit the ground running. I suspect we will see positive news in the papers in the coming weeks.

Lou Magazzu is rearing his ugly head once more, demanding a consolidation of county dispatch services. In his power grab to monopolize all county services, he could not care less about the negative impact such a move would have on Millville residents, or the cost this would impose on taxpayers.

Meanwhile, Millville Acting Police Chief Tom Haas came out strongly against the proposal. “It’s not a good idea,” he said.
Haas said his police dispatchers do a good job of filtering calls, reducing by about half the number of calls that actually require a response from a police officer. He also said the conversion to a countywide system could be too cost prohibitive.
Haas said individual departments would know their municipalities better than a countywide set up.
For instance, he said, some residents call in reports of shots being fired just to speed up police response time to a situation. Millville dispatchers have come to recognize those callers, and will send one car out instead of two or more, he said.

Haas hit the hot points, and these are the reasons that Millville's cops are against this, and the reason that community leaders oppose it.

First of all, the county dispatchers do not know Millville. This year a Millville resident called the county 9-11 to report a problem at 2nd st. and Vine St. when the dispatcher kindly informed them that those two roads do not intersect. The real problem is that Vine Street at that area is a county road, and these guys don't know that?

Next, the Millville Police Department just spent a fortune on updating the computer system. The county system is not able to be integrated with Millville's system, and the cost to make the two systems compatible is prohibitive. That cost would of course fall on Millville taxpayers, taking needed funds away from necessary police budgets.

And we finally come to the last aspect, which is most disturbing. The police dispatchers man the front desk at the police station. Remove these positions, and now we would have to take men off the street to work the desk during the daytime hours. At night, a decision would have to be made to lock the doors and leave the police department empty - endangering citizens that would go to the station after dark seeking assistance or protection.

The paper refers to Gloucester County, claiming that consolidation is more cost effective. The reporter doesn't analyze the numbers, however. Cumberland County is much larger than Gloucester; it has 164 more square miles. Gloucester's largest city in area is Glassboro, which is one-quarter the area of Millville, with about half the population. The demographics are completely different, and so comparisons  are faulty.

The bulk of Gloucester County is made up of townships, many having their own, relatively small police force. Consolidating many smaller forces does indeed make sense - Millville has one of the largest police departments in the state. Vineland, too.

In all, there would be no real costs savings, and the inefficiency would likely cause dangerous delays in response time. Oh, and it should be noted that V-Comm, the company being paid an exorbitant fee by the county taxpayers is a democratic contributor.

The website, has long uncovered the pattern of contributors to the Camden County machine getting Cumberland County jobs. This is a way that companies avoid pay-to-play laws. In return, Camden democrats give that money as contributions to the Cumberland County machine.

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