PENNINGTON: Council hires new police officer, discusses purchase of body cameras

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By Frank Mustac, Contributor
The Pennington Police Department gained one new police officer recently, after the council unanimously approved the hiring of Officer Jonathan Louis Pauciullo.
According to officials, the hunt for an addition to the police department included interviewing six potential candidates for the job.
At the Oct. 6 council meeting, officials said Mr. Pauciullo was being taken on as a probationary police officer within the department.
With a total population of about 2,500 residents, the borough employs just a handful of officers on its police force.
Councilman Charles “Chico” Marciante said an interview team consisting of Pennington Borough Public Safety Director William Meytrott, Borough Administrator Eileen Heinzel and other staff members highly recommended Mr. Pauciullo for the position.
“(Pauciullo’s) hiring is contingent on his medical and psychological tests,” Councilman Marciante said.
Mr. Pauciullo will be a Class II special officer, which requires that he must complete his training within one year while on the job.
According to the township, Mr. Pauciullo will start with an annual salary of $30,000.
Along with hiring a new officer, the council also addressed the purchase of body-worn cameras for the borough’s police department.
According to Councilman Marciante, the township received $2,500 in grant funding to help facilitate the cameras’ purchase.
Back in July 2015, the state announced a $2.5 million grant that would help local municipalities and their police departments get their hands on body cameras.
Last month, the state Attorney General’s Office announced the availability of another $500,000 in grants, which cost anywhere from $800 to $1,200 each.
The decision regarding whether to acquire body-worn cameras remains up to individual police departments and municipalities, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
During the meeting, Councilman Joseph Lawver asked how video recorded by a police officer’s body camera would be archived.
“Getting the cameras is the easy part,” Mr. Lawver said.
Ms. Heinzel, the Borough Administrator, said those considerations would need to be made in the near future.
“There is a lot of policy that I think needs to be developed surrounding these cameras. This is all coming through the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office,” she said. “I think there is going to be some additional equipment we’re going to need to purchase for the cameras.”
IN OTHER BUSINESS, the council unanimously approved an ordinance clarifying property owners’ obligation to trim grass and plant growth on land abutting public streets.
Section 177- 21 of the Code of the Borough of Pennington, which dealt with “refuse, waste, debris, plants and trees on sidewalks” was amended as a result of the council’s vote.
According to the newly amended section, property owners “of every lot abutting upon any public street in the borough shall keep and maintain the abutting sidewalk(s) clear of all refuse, waste, debris and plant and shrub overgrowth.”
Any other obstruction “within the airspace over the sidewalk for its entire width and length to a height of seven feet” must also keep those areas clear of debris and any “trees, bushes and plants” on the land trimmed to allow at least seven feet of clearance. 