South Brunswick Community,
Over the last week I have received many questions about the South Brunswick Police Department. These questions primarily pertain to the tragic incident in Minneapolis, which led to the in-custody death of George Floyd. I have answered as many questions as possible by e-mail, phone call, or in person. Many are questions regarding what I am doing to prevent this from taking place in South Brunswick Township.
First and foremost, the entire South Brunswick Police Department sends their condolences to the family and those that are grieving George Floyd’s death. We, as an agency, are angry about what took place. This anger only renews my personal commitment to continue leading a professional police department that protects and serves the community each and every day.
There are many things we, as an agency, do daily to ensure we are policing in a professional and fair manner. We are committed to treating all citizens with integrity, respect, and professionalism. These are the CORE Values of the South Brunswick Police Department. These values are instilled in every officer from the first day they are hired. In addition, they are continually emphasized each and every day. I have made it abundantly clear that I expect my officers to always prevent any act of misconduct, and report any and every situation which they believe constitutes misconduct.
Our efforts to provide our community with fair, impartial, and effective policing begin even before our officers are hired. Our background checks are lengthy and extremely in-depth, to be sure that only the best applicants are hired to serve as South Brunswick police officers. After hiring, each officer’s actions are continually reviewed throughout a comprehensive field training program, and any improper actions are immediately addressed.
The South Brunswick Police Department prides itself on the training we provide our officers on a continual basis. In addition to the significant training required of all local police departments in the State of New Jersey, the South Brunswick Police Department takes part in many hours of additional in-service training. I sincerely believe we are one of the best trained agencies in the State of New Jersey. In 2019, our officers logged 4,788 hours of formal training. This training includes, but is not limited to, de-escalation, bias incident, use of force, domestic violence, first aid and CPR. Our full-time Training Unit is tasked with ensuring the officers obtain the latest and most contemporary law enforcement training available. This unit conducts hands-on, realistic de-escalation and scenario-based training.
We consider every day a training day in the South Brunswick Police Department, which leads to very important informal training. Prior to every shift our first line supervisors are required to critique calls with their squads, review video, and discuss policy with their officers in order to be more proficient and improve performance. We strive for excellence, and can only achieve this by continually improving our performance through our training efforts and the actions we take when dealing with those we serve.
We are an open and transparent agency. Since I was sworn in as the Chief of Police in 2005, we have published an extensive Annual Report documenting all of our activities as an agency. These reports are available at http://www.southbrunswicknj.gov/police-annual-reports.
We also have a citizen’s police academy that gives participants a hands-on view and access to all facets of the agency. The course is held once a week for 11 weeks. This program provides an excellent opportunity for any resident to see first-hand the inner workings of our agency. It also gives the participants an opportunity to meet the members of the department, and to build relationships. We run this program twice a year and, if necessary, I have the full support of Mayor Carley and the governing body, along with the Township Manager, to expand it so that we can accommodate all that want to attend. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this program.
For years, my officers and I have worked diligently to build relationships through community outreach programs, and our community policing efforts. We do this so we can continue to build trust with the South Brunswick community. We believe the time to build trust and relationships is before a controversial incident takes place. I believe we have this trust. However, we will not rest on our past performance. We will continue to develop and earn trust each and every day. Over the years, we have met with hundreds of community groups, numerous businesses, and thousands of individual residents, and have always been willing to listen to their fears, concerns, questions, and suggestions. This practice will continue, as our strength as a police agency is dependent on having a good relationship with our community. I believe our community policing programs are second to none. Every year, thousands of residents attend and volunteer at our National Night Out event. In addition, we run many other programs such as the Youth Police Academy, Senior Citizen Outreach, Child ID Day, Blue Angel Lockbox Program, Heroes and Helpers, SAFE Program Drug Education, ASAP Training, School Resource Officer Program and many others. A full description of these programs is available to review in our Annual Report.
In 2019, there were 88,211 total calls for service handled by the South Brunswick Police Department. This includes, but is not limited to, routine motor vehicle stops, first aid calls, domestic violence calls, emotionally disturbed persons, neighbor disputes, robberies, and community policing contacts. Force was used 17 times in 2019, which is a rate of .02% of all calls for service. There were no use of force incidents involving in-custody deaths, police shootings, or a discharge of weapons. An administrative review is conducted on each and every use of force incident by a command level officer. It is routed to my office for final review. All actions in 2019 were found to be in compliance with department rules and regulations, and New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines.
The South Brunswick Police Department has an Office of Professional Standards, which is responsible for handling all internal affairs matters. We accept complaints regarding police misconduct 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every police officer in the South Brunswick Police Department is trained to accept a complaint either verbally or in writing. We also make the Complaint Against Police Officer form available on the department website. All complaints are investigated to a logical conclusion, to be sure all actions taken are appropriate. Our internal affairs policy is strictly adhered to. In addition, we have an Early Warning System in place to identify any officers with performance problems, along with the appropriate intervention to correct their actions. We publish an overview of our internal affairs investigations in our Annual Report. These steps, and others, keep us in compliance with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Internal Affairs Policy.
The South Brunswick Police Department is one of eight nationally-accredited police agencies in the state of New Jersey. This is done through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (https://www.calea.org/). We have also achieved and maintain state accreditation through the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (https://www.njsacop.org/). We are one of only three agencies in the State of New Jersey that has achieved both distinctions. Accreditation is a progressive, contemporary, and time proven method of helping law enforcement agencies improve their overall performance, and it ensures we are using the best police practices in the United States, and in New Jersey.
I would also like to note the following are restricted or required in the South Brunswick Police Department, and are in compliance with the NJ Attorney General’s Guidelines:
- Chokeholds and strangleholds are banned, unless it is a deadly force situation.
- We require officers to de-escalate situations, whenever possible, by communicating with subjects and maintaining distance. Officers are provided specific, ongoing training in this discipline.
- We require verbal warnings, when possible, prior to discharging a firearm.
- We require officers to exhaust all alternatives, when possible, before discharging a firearm.
- We require all officers to intervene and stop excessive force, and report it along with any and all misconduct.
- South Brunswick police officers are not permitted to shoot at moving vehicles, unless it is a deadly force situation.
- We require adherence to a strict use of force continuum, and only use deadly force as a last resort.
- We require officers to document and report each time they use, or threaten to use, force.
This is a broad overview of what we are doing as an agency to ensure we are taking the necessary steps to prevent an in-custody death from taking place. In addition, these are just some steps that the dedicated officers and civilian staff of our police department are doing to ensure that everyone is treated in a fair and just manner. The men and women of this agency are dedicated to protecting and serving the South Brunswick community and all persons we encounter regardless of race, religion, or creed. We will always strive to continuously improve our methods, so we can protect and serve with honor and integrity.
In closing, I want everyone to know that my officers and I will never tolerate police misconduct in any form. I want to thank the public for the many recent letters supporting me and the dedicated members of the South Brunswick Police Department. It is a pleasure to serve as your Chief of Police.
Raymond J. Hayducka