'Marginal' Savings from Teaneck Police Merger, Study Finds
Combining three police departments would bring $75K in savings per town, report finds.
A county-funded study recommended against merging the Teaneck, Bogota and Little Ferry police departments, saying the move would offer only "marginal" savings and was unlikely to increase the level of service in the three communities.
Consolidating the departments would lead to $225,000 in combined savings for the three towns, according to a report by Blue Shield Consulting LLC. The merger would offer only $75,000 in savings per town.
Each department was already meeting the needs of its residents and a change would only be suggested if it offered taxpayers a larger cost-saving, the report said.
Savings would be achieved by the elimination of two police chiefs, two captains, two lieutenants and at least one sergeant. Blue Shield, however, concluded there would be no "significant" savings.
"This is based on the fact that all three departments function presently understaffed and bringing them together is not going to diminish that number of sworn officers just the number of ranking officers," according to the report.
Still, the report recommended a host of possible shared services agreements.
"However, there is savings that could be achieved going forward by consolidating communications, expanded shared court services with all three communities, sale of large inventory of equipment, vehicles, weapons, and gear could be reduced or sold," the report said.
Although shared services savings might not come immediately, the agreements could become a necessity under the state's 2 percent tax levy cap, the report said.
If the merger took place, the combined department would be headquartered in Teaneck, with no less than 132 officers serving a combined population of 57,205, the report said. A small substation could be located in Bogota. Startup costs would range from $100,000 to $200,000, but the report said could be made up by selling surplus equipment.
Residents would not see improved services under a merged department, according to Blue Shield.
"Under the current staffing levels of the Teaneck, Bogota and Little Ferry Police Departments it would be unlikely to see an increase in services to any community if a consolidation of police departments were installed," the report said.
Although the study examined consolidation of the three departments, Little Ferry officials have said they were only interested in providing contracted police services to another town.
The study originally focused on merging the Teaneck and Bogota police, but Little Ferry was added later. The report also pointed to concerns raised because Little Ferry and Bogota are not contiguous.
Teaneck's police department could not be compared to the smaller Bogota and Little Ferry agencies, the report noted.
"The Teaneck Police Department does it all and provides expansive services to its residents with programs and services second to none by New Jersey standards," the report concluded.
The study was funded through seized funds provided by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office to towns considering police mergers.
Police consolidations are being considered around Bergen County, including a heated debate over merging the county police with the sheriff's office.