Pennington Council members unanimously voted to approve the addition of two police officers to the borough police department.
The probationary police officers approved at the borough council meeting on Sept. 8 are Michael Crincoli and Eric Tomkins.
The police department originally was looking to add just one additional officer, but with the potential loss of Officer Michael Rodriguez to a different agency, officials sought for authorization of two officers instead.
During the meeting, Mayor Joe Lawver asked for clarification on whether the council is authorizing both positions now or pre-authorizing a second officer in case Rodriguez leaves the department.
“My concern is that we end up authorizing an officer and for some reason Officer Rodriguez does not put in his papers and then we have an extra officer that at this point is not planned in the municipal budget,” Lawver said.
The Pennington Police Department is currently made up of four full-time sworn police officers, not including the police chief and a part-time civilian assistant to the chief of police.
“I’m looking at it as ultimately we would like for the police department to go to a sixth officer now, if we lose one officer in anticipation of losing Rodriquez. We would then be down to three full-time officers having to train two, which would be a very difficult task,” Chief of Police Doug Pinelli said. “Right now I have the proper manpower to have two officers come in and be trained. If Rodriguez leaves about at the same time, the two officers will both be able to go on the road themselves within three to four months.”
Pinelli anticipates the two officers on the road by themselves in January 2021.
According to the resolutions, 12 candidates had been interviewed during the first round of interviews on Aug. 27. Five candidates were then chosen from the pool of 12 to interview in-person with the Oral Interview Board. After the interviews concluded on Sept. 3, Crincoli and Tomkins were recommended for the positions.
Both Crincoli and Tomkins will have to pass a medical and psychological exam before the hiring process can be complete.
Pinelli has stated that a sixth full-time sworn officer would allow the department to lower overtime, aid in officer safety as currently there is only one officer on per shift, and lessen officer fatigue.