Recent decisions by newly-elected Toms River mayor regarding police department not sitting well with the public
A change to Zoom for Wednesday's Toms River Council meeting isn’t sitting well with a lot of folks and even some council members.
This change comes after a heated in-person meeting occurred earlier in the month when newly-elected Mayor Dan Rodrick announced plans to not fill two retiring police captain positions and use funds to support and hire full-time EMTs.
"It's a dismantling, it's a purging. It's complete control of every department. It's an ugliness, it's an evilness happening here," said Toms River Fourth Ward Councilman David Ciccozzi, one of two council members not supporting the proposed police/EMT changes. "It's not the right way to govern. People need to see it in person, they need to hear what's on the agenda and they need to speak to the representatives about what concerns them.”
Many in Toms River received a letter on Friday from the mayor in the mail. It lays out his reasoning for the change, stating in part "Some of the department’s top brass are upset that we will not be backfilling these retirements in management because their colleagues will not be getting a promotion."
Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little responded with a post on the department's Facebook page, pointing out that the new officers the mayor is hiring are Class 1 officers, unable to carry weapons and unable to issue tickets. That post was deleted a few hours later.
"To me, it is really about not wanting to hear what the public has to say," said Toms River resident Phil Brilliant, a frequent attendee at council meetings. "On the agenda is the cut of the police department. They have seen everything, they heard from us at the last meeting, and they don't want to hear from us, to be honest with you.”
Meanwhile, supporters of Toms River Police Department include Dominick Farro, owner of Farro's Tees, who printed nearly 1,000 t-shirts in support of the police department.
"It just hit me kind of hard and I'm all for the Toms River police. They've been very good to me. I'm going to continue to stand by them. I'm just a t-shirt guy doing what I think is right."
The township clerk tells News 12 he was not asked by the council president to contact the school district for a larger venue.
A spokesperson for the mayor had no further comment aside from what was said in the letter to residents.
Two rallies in support of police are scheduled to be held outside of Town Hall on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
MORE: Letter from Toms River Mayor
MORE: Press Release from Toms River Police