BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Bridgewater Township Police Department has moved to a Pitman schedule, which is expected to put more officers on the road throughout Bridgewater.
The department began following this new schedule as of Jan. 6.
According to Mayor Matthew Moench, Bridgewater officers were previously on a schedule of 10.5-hour shifts, with four days on work, and three days off for each officer.
“That resulted in a double day, and every shift worked on a particular day,” he said.
With this new schedule, Moench said, the department moves to 12-hour shifts, with two days on, three days off, and then three days on, two days off.
“That allows us to put a significant amount of more officers on the road because we are eliminating the double day,” he said.
Moench said the new schedule increases police coverage in Bridgewater from 25 percent to 63 percent more manpower, without increasing the number of officers in the department.
“It significantly increases safety for residents,” he said. “And it helps us level out if we have retirements, or a large number of officers in the police academy.”
“It helps makes sure we always have a sufficient number of officers on the road,” he added.
The department and township will continue to monitor the new scheduling and how it works.
“We’ve had a positive response,” Bridgewater Township Acting Police Chief Paul Payne said. “We are in the beginning stages, and we will continue to meet with union members to hammer out any issues.”
Councilman Allen Kurdyla said he would just like some more information regarding manpower.
“I know there are pros and cons in the schedule,” he said. “What I would like to do is get answers to the issues we were debating last year about the number of officers.”
Early in 2019, the council debated a request from the police department for the hiring of 12 new officers. The department said more officers were needed to accommodate a growing township population, in addition to more businesses and development in the area.
In the end, the township approved the hiring of two new officers, and committed to continuing to study to determine if more are needed.
Moench said this new schedule will aid in determining what those next steps are.
“Right now, I believe we have put more officers on the road than if we had hired 10 more,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we can’t get more, but this has provided a significant increase.”
Kurdyla said he believes there should be additional investigating.
“I think it’s important because there is a lot of angst over what to do, and I think we all deserve the answers to those questions,” he said.