Weeklong Search For Escapee Cost NJ Taxpayers $180,000

BARNEGAT, N.J. (AP) -

A weeklong search in May for a convict who escaped prison weeks shy of being eligible for parole cost taxpayers $180,000 in police overtime.

The hunt for Arthur Buckel began on May 3 after guards noticed he was missing from an early morning bed check at Bayside State Prison. He was serving a three-year sentence for burglary and theft. A large dragnet was cast over southern Ocean County, and Buckel was apprehended on May 9 after he was spotted at a rest stop along the Garden State Parkway.

Corrections spokesman Matthew Schuman said the department has a “longstanding mutual aid agreement” with other agencies when assistance is needed. But that agreement doesn’t include financial reimbursement for law enforcement entities that provide help to the department.

The search focused on Barnegat Township for two days after Buckel was seen entering a CVS store there. Republican Mayor John Novak has requested repayment from the state for nearly $30,000 in overtime.

“I would hope, with a similar diligence and a similar sense of urgency, the [Department of Corrections] will process our fair and reasonable request,” Novak said. “The good people of Barnegat would like to be reimbursed for their cost. It’s only fair.”

Schuman said Barnegat is the only law enforcement agency to request reimbursement for the overtime.