FLEMINGTON, NJ – The borough is hiring two new members for its Police Department, and one of them has four legs.

Greg Zytko will be the department’s newest patrol officer. He previously worked in that role in the Mansfield (Warren County) Police Department.

Zytko will be bringing with him Jax, a K-9 dog trained to detect drugs, Councilperson Marc Hain said at yesterday’s Council meeting.

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Zytko will be paid $59,113 a year. The borough is buying Jax for $15,000.

Hain said Jax comes to Flemington at no cost to taxpayers. That’s because about $12,500 of the cost will come from the county – funded by forfeitures made after arrests – with the balance coming from “police donations.”

Jax is about two years old, Hain said, and is “fully certified.”

Jax could be a money-maker for the borough, Hain said, because of arrests that result in forfeitures. Readington police, who also have a K-9 dog, recently received a forfeiture of about $90,000, he said.

If Jax is used in a search in another municipality, the borough will receive a portion of any forfeiture that might result from the sale of assets, such as a vehicle, or seizure of cash. Forfeitures are divided between the municipality where the arrest occurred, the municipality providing the K-9, the county and “the state gets a little bit,” Hain said.

When the concept of a K-9 was first discussed at budget workshops earlier in the year, “I was a skeptic,” said mayor Phil Greiner, “because of the cost.”

In response to questions, the mayor said there is a “routine need” for a K-9 such as Jax.

“We hear every day about the drug epidemic,” Greiner said. “This was a really set of special circumstances that came together with a lot of good work” by Police Chief Jerry Rotella and Hain, Greiner said.

Hain said a forfeiture wouldn’t be awarded until after a conviction.