After losing two part-time officers, one to temporary disability and one to another department, Plainfield Township Police Chief Dean Ceraul asked the Board of Supervisors if he could interview one part-time officer to fill the department’s holes.
On Wednesday night, the supervisors said no.
Though the township still has 12 full-time and two part-time officers, Chief Ceraul worries that the recent departures will create a significant shortage.
The two lost officers covered up to 19 shifts per month. Add to that the sick days and holidays remaining officers will take, particularly in December, and Chief Ceraul thinks the township will have to rely on state police or send officers out alone.
Vice Chairman Glenn Borger said he “seriously doubts” the situation is that desperate, and Supervisor Steve Hurni said that even if it were, having only one officer on duty in the early morning and counting on backup wouldn’t be so bad.
“I can tell you if we don’t get another part-timer, it’s going to happen,” Chief Ceraul said. “If you really need them [the State Police], good luck,” he said, referring to long response times.
Chairman Randy Heard said he doesn’t want any officers working alone, and became agitated when a resident accused the board of disregarding the coverage deficit. “It’s easy for you to say,” Heard said. “I think this board is pro-police overall. For you to say that, I’m offended.”
But ultimately, Heard and the other supervisors voted against replacing the two part-timers with a single one. According to Supervisor Jane Mellert, the township already exceeded its part-time budget.
The residents in attendance seemed pretty evenly split on the issue, with some saying they wanted full coverage round-the-clock and others saying the township functioned with a smaller force in the past, so there is no reason why it can’t now.
“This isn’t 1975,” one resident said in response. “It’s 2012.”
Earlier in the meeting, the board released a letter of credit to Millstone Development LLC after threatening to withhold portions of it and hire another developer to finish the work Millstone started.
According to Millstone, the “vast majority” of the road and drainage improvements it’s required to make at Rolling Meadows Estates are completed. Two detention ponds remain, but Millstone said they would be finished in the spring.