SOMERSET, NJ - The Township Council will consider a major change in the leadership of its police department Tuesday night, according to the agenda of the meeting posted online.

The governing body will consider changing the position of chief of police to a director of public safety, according to the agenda.

The move comes after Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Detectives John W. Fodor assumed day-to-day operations of the department on July 1. Fodor took over for retiring Chief of Police Richard A. Grammar and Capt. Gregory Borlan at the end of June.

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The ordinance under consideration for the first time Tuesday night, will eliminate the chief and deputy chief’s positions and create a position of public safety director. A civilian appointee as opposed to a sworn officer, the public safety director will report to the township manager, according to the ordinance.

According to a 2007 position paper by the New Jersey Chiefs of Police Association, the majority of law enforcement agencies in the state are run by a chief of police, which carries special statutory authority and can also act as a sworn officer. On the other hand, according to the paper, a public safety or police director, may be appointed under ordinance to oversee a law enforcement agency. The director, however, cannot act as a sworn officer themselves and are a civilian appointment without the statutory authority vested in a chief of police.

The director reports to the town manager or council, according to the paper. According to the proposed ordinance, “the Public Safety Director shall be charged with the duties of supervising the Division of Police in all areas and aspects as shall impact upon policy and the good order and discipline of the Division and shall adopt rules and regulations for the Division of Police and establish policies for the daily operation of the Division of Police and the discipline of its members.”

If introduced Tuesday night, the ordinance will have to have a public hearing and final adoption scheduled in the next month. If approved at that time, it will go into effect about 20-30 days later, and the council could then appoint someone to the position. 

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