More Towns Turning to Part-Time Cops

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) -

Municipalities continue to use part-time officers as an affordable way to add manpower to their police departments, but critics point to safety concerns of officers and say this cannot be the future of policing in New Jersey.

The trend of hiring Class II police officers has gained momentum over the last five years as police departments and municipalities faced budget hits and layoffs. Hamilton Township, Galloway, Egg Harbor, Little Egg Harbor, Vineland, Lower and Middle townships and Atlantic City have all turned to cost-effective, part-time manpower once used only in shore towns to beef up police during the busy summer months.

Unlike full-time officers making larger incomes, Class II officers are paid at an hourly rate that ranges from an average of $14 to $18 an hour. Another savings for hiring part-time manpower is that it includes no taxpayer-funded health benefits or pension payments.

Hamilton Township will soon hire another round of Class II police officers in addition to the three who are employed in the 49-member force. Mayor Roger Silva said it was a much more affordable option than adding a fully sworn police officer at full-time status.

Silva’s youngest son, Christopher Silva, 31, is a police officer in Mullica Township and started his career in Hamilton Township as a Class II officer.

“Look, we understand the opportunity for Class IIs. There are a lot of people who go that route. Look at the shore towns; they rely on them heavily and they do a great job,” Silva said.