Democratic Freeholders in a plan released Wednesday say they want to consolidate a bifurcated law enforcement system in Bergen County, trimming redundancies and saving taxpayers here millions of dollars while avoiding police layoffs.
According to the expansive plan, the Bergen County Police Department will “continue as its own division under the Sheriff’s Department, headed by the Chief of Police.
“This plan mandates no reduction in force,” according to the freeholders’ plan.
The new sheriff’s department would include 524 sworn officers and 281 corrections officers and 243 sheriff’s officers/county police, the plan stated.
“Some duplicative functions may allow for a future reduction in personnel, the Democratic Freeholders plan calls for no force reduction and that all changes in staffing levels will be through attrition. It guarantees that no officer loses their job.”
Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino has defended the merger plan.
Freeholders explained that tax payers stand to save somewhere between $90 and $200 million, according to their report. That projection is based on two outlooks for the future—one in which current staffing is carried forward and another in which, though attrition, 44 jobs are cut. In addition, all current county officers would finish their careers under the current salary scale, according to the report.
Not included in either model are savings associated with consolidation of overhead costs and the selling of properties, the freeholders’ report said: “[The] potential selling of office space by consolidating buildings, consolidating record keeping, reduction in demand for vehicles and gas, consolidation of IT, combining administrative staffs, and consolidation of garages.”
“While the intention of these multiple layers was to offer support and provide specialty units to local law enforcement, redundancy has developed over time. This redundancy is what taxpayers can no longer afford,” the report reads.
The freeholders Tuesday OK’d changes to county laws, allowing the governing body to “reorganize and investigate the way county government is administered,” according to a report in The Record earlier this week.
The move comes despite contention from County Executive Kathleen Donovan that the freeholders don’t possess the legislative power to excise departments without the executive’s go-ahead.
The plan is expected to be formally introduced at the next freeholders meeting on Sept. 25.