Toms River Council votes to eliminate 2 police captain positions, despite public opposition

The Toms River Town Council voted to eliminate two police captain positions, despite opposition from the public.

Jim Murdoch

Feb 14, 2024, 5:16 PM

Updated 62 days ago

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A majority of the Toms River Town Council members voted Wednesday afternoon to eliminate the positions of two retiring police captains and shift the money to hiring eight full-time EMTs.
After 90 minutes of public comments, where more than 30 people asked the council to table the vote, the ordinance passed - with two members voting no and five voting yes.  
"Once that happens you will have effectively understaffed and defunded this police department. And every single soul who doesn't make it because there isn't enough staff is on you," said town resident Tracey Fournier.
Dozens of speakers spoke out against the mayor's plan to eliminate the captains' jobs and shift, according to the mayor, the roughly $800,000 into new full-time EMTS. In multiple interviews, Toms River Mayor Dan Rodrick said most residents still support him. But that support was nowhere to be seen on Wednesday aside from the five council members.
"I wanted to work with you guys to fix our town. But this is not the right way. I am glad this happened. Why? Because it has united us and I see that these people which have come here to fight for what's right," said another Toms River resident. 
Police Chief Mitch Little did not speak inside the meeting but told News 12 after the vote, it appears by the move that the mayor and council want more control over the department.
"It feels like there is a lot of pressure being put on the police department right now.  And I do get the sense of the current administration wanting more control and I've seen other departments when other administration have departments they want to control, they try to get rid of the chief," said Chief Little. 
The meeting did get loud at times. Police officers removed one member of the public for getting into a shouting match with the council president and the mayor.  A petition is still circulating in town to repeal this ordinance. If it gets enough signatures, the ordinance would be sent back to the council and they have three choices - withdraw the ordinance; modify the ordinance or send it to a public referendum vote.
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