The Hopewell Township Committee has established a temporary police director for the Hopewell Township Police Department.
Committee members voted unanimously on an ordinance creating the temporary position at a Aug. 3 township committee meeting. Mayor Kristin McLaughlin, Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger, Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski, Committeewoman Julie Blake and Committeewoman Courtney Peters-Manning voted “yes” to approve the measure.
Blake said the ordinance is designed to allow the township some breathing room to talk about all the items that they want goal-wise, staff-wise and promotion-wise for the police department.
“This will allow us to work with someone who is a civilian. This person will oversee different assignments that do not include policing, but will include public communications, budgeting and goal setting, while we move forward with an analysis of what we want for the police,” she said. “We are looking for, in our police director, someone who is proactive, interested in communication and learning, and works with the police closely, so that we can make positive change.”
The approval for implementing a police director position comes after the retirement of former Chief of Police Lance Maloney, which went into effect on Aug. 1. Officials said the temporary position also gives the committee time to conduct a thorough process for naming a new chief or search for a permanent director if the committee chooses that route for the police department.
The director does not have any of the powers that are reserved for sworn officers, according to state documents. The powers unavailable for police directors include conducting a motor vehicle stop; stop, detain or arrest individuals; wearing a law enforcement officer uniform; handling any internal investigations or any active cases; and they will not be able to view any videos of active cases.
“While we do not have this police director currently we need to have a chief by statute. We have an acting chief of police, Lt. William Springer, and he will be named such until we get a director,” Blake said. “Then Springer will be named acting officer in charge. You have to have a member of the police department who is in charge of day-to-day operations regarding policing.”
The director would stay in power so long as the committee determines it appropriate. The salary for the police director will range from $76,000-$159,000.
In addition to establishing the police director, township committee members also approved a memorandum of understanding with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office to establish a monitor overseeing the police department’s internal affairs.
“The police director does not have the same authority as the chief of police and cannot perform the internal affairs function. Lt. Springer is the current internal affairs officer for the department,” township attorney Steve Goodell said. “He is now going to be the officer in charge and cannot perform the internal affairs function. Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri had suggested that a monitor be appointed from his office to perform the internal affairs function until we have a chief or someone else in the police department who can do that job.”