PEAPACK AND GLADSTONE NJ - The lawn signs are down and the angry mob didn't come to the meeting too express its displeasure. The opposition to the reform of the Peapack-Gladstone police ordinance, which once filled the gymnasium with nearly one hundred people was exactly one person.
At tonight's meeting, the Peapack-Gladstone borough council unanimously passed a pared-down version of the reform ordinance that it had tabled at its November 10, meeting. Gone from the ordinance were the more controversial provisions that drew a crowd of nearly one hundred and a flurry of activity on social media. According to one councilman, the purpose of the ordinance is to create performance incentives by increasing competition for promotion.
The one aspect of the original reform that remained was the process and standards for appointing future chiefs of police. The lone opposition to the ordinance came from Corporal Thomas Scanlon of the Peapack-Gladstone Police Department. Corporal Scanlon is a fifteen year veteran of the Peapack-Gladstone Police and a potential future applicant for police chief. Corporal Scanlon listed a litany of criticisms of the proposed ordinance, but his criticism focused on the elimination of the requirement that an applicant for police chief hold a four-year college degree.
The former ordinance required that a police chief hold a four-year degree. The reform ordinance eliminated the degree requirement. Corporal Scanlon, who holds a bachelor's degree from St. Johns University argued that the reform ordinance marked a step backward.
Councilman Jerry Gunning, the author of the ordinance, explained that while the requirement for a four-year degree was eliminated, an applicant holding a four-year degree would receive credit for holding that degree, and that past borough councils had waived the degree requirment when making promotions.
Councilman Bill Simpson remarked that the purpose of the reform was to widen the pool of applicants and create competition for the job. Corporal Scanlon was one of two officers who would qualify for the job under the old ordinance. Under the new ordinance, there are four eligible applicants.
The borough council had reviewed the ordinance with Police Chief Gregory Skinner and the Patrolman's Benevolent Association before its introduction. The ordinance passed in a unanimous 6-0 vote and takes effect immediately.