Vineland, NJ gets part-time police officers

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Four special police officers took the oaths Wednesday in the office of Vineland Mayor Robert Romano.

The Class II officers, as they're called, will help beef up staffing for the city's 145-member police force. They're trained like regular officers but will be limited to working 20 hours a week and they won't get health benefits.

"Benefits alone for the city of Vineland are $22,000 per employee for a family plan," said Romano. "These officers just work on an hour-to-hour basis and they have no benefits."

The mayor says along with other cost-cutting measures, this will lead to a savings of half a million dollars over several years.

The plan is for the special officers to handle the front desk, fingerprinting, police reports and processing prisoners, work that is now done by full-time officers.

"The whole idea is to free up our regular sworn officers to go out and handle more primary duties they do, which is patrol, special tasks, that type of thing," said Vineland Police Chief Tim Codispoti. "We'd rather have our regular officers out on the street."

The Class IIs are hoping one day they'll become full-fledged officers in the city.

"My goal is to become a full time officer," said Class II Officer Andrew Fegley. "Being a Class II is just a great way to get your foot in the door."

"It's been hard to find a job in today's economy," said Class II Officer Daniel Davis. "But thank God for Vineland here."

Special officers have been used for years in Shore towns and in other communities like Millville, Bridgeton and Buena. Now Vineland and also Atlantic City see Class II officers as a way to augment staffing and save money.

"We really have to watch the way we spend our money," said Vineland resident Kathy Cavallero. "I don't think we train police officers to do paperwork, you know? I think it's a good idea."

While special officers can perform the same duties as other officers. they won't be able to take their weapons home. That's because unlike full-timers, they don't have police powers once they're off duty or outside of the town where they're employed.

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