LONG BRANCH: For the first time in over 40 years, the Long Branch Police Department will be headed by a police chief and not a public safety director.
During its June 27 meeting, the Long Branch Council adopted an ordinance by a 3-2 vote which creates the positions of police chief and two deputy police chiefs. Currently, the department is overseen by Public Safety Director Jason Roebuck, who also oversees the Long Branch Fire Department. Under the new arrangement, the the public safety director position would remain but be held by someone who is not a police officer. The ordinance states that the director can also appoint a deputy municipal department head.
Councilwoman Mary Jane Celli, who voted against the adoption of the ordinance along with Councilman John Pallone, said that when the discussions on the topic of appointing a police chief started a few months ago she said she asked the city's labor attorney what was best for the city and he told her "a director of public safety."
Celli she also liked the public safety director position because the council could make a change at position "if things are not going right."
She added that it would add $450,000 in salary to the department, a figure that was later disputed by Councilwoman Joy Bastelli who said that was not an accurate amount.
Ocean Township resident Patty Verrochi spoke during said must be one or the other- chief or civilian public safety director- Patty Verrochi
Attorney James Aaron said he did not agree, said public safety director can run the fire department and "has duties other than the police department."
Usually the position of public safety director is held by a civilian, but in 1991, a member of the police department has held the position, Mayor Adam Schneider told Word On The Shore last month. However, Schneider said the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office has been "examining the position for a number of different reasons, and recently told the city that the position should only be used if it is held by a civilian.
An interim police chief will likely be appointed in the next few months and officers interested in the three new positions would take a civil service test near the end of the year, Schneider said.