Stafford, NJ Police Chief named new President of NJSACOP
Stafford Township Police Chief Tom Dellane who joined the board for the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police in 2018 now has a new role as he's been appointed to a one-year term as President of the NJSACOP.
He'll be overseeing all the police chiefs associations in New Jersey and working with the board to help implement procedures to aid law enforcement.
"Basically, you're the face of the association, any decisions being made -- as far as policies as procedures -- we're interacting and developing positive communications with our state officials, interact with the Attorney General's Office on a regular basis having discussions about impending directives and policies out of their office, giving guidance and input, we also have relationships with all our legislators so that when there's a police related or law enforcement related issue or bill that they're looking to put forth, we provide input and guidance on that as well," Dellane tells Townsquare Media News.
One of the goals for Chief Dellane as President will be to address the many concerns he and other police chiefs have including certain pieces of legislation that prevent police from doing their jobs.
"I have several concerns, primarily, my main concern deals with juveniles and marijuana and alcohol," Chief Dellane said. "The public voted on the legalization of marijuana, which I respect and I have no issues with, however, when the implementing legislation was enacted, it essentially legalized alcohol and marijuana use by juveniles and criminalized conduct by police officers trying to interact with those juveniles and make their communities a better and safer place."
Chief Dellane said the allowance of such acts from this legislation has led, in part, to pop-up parties and crowd control issues at the Jersey Shore.
"With the restrictions we have placed upon us, the criminalization of our conduct and interaction with juveniles, it has two effects: number one - it emboldens juveniles to act out knowing that there's not a whole lot we can do about it, and it gives us less tools in law enforcement to control that situation," Dellane said. "So, a situation that we might be able to control locally with the police officers in a given town, we no longer have that ability and as a result, the crowds get larger, they become more unruly, and it results in us calling for mutual aid to other municipalities, which I think everyone recognizes is not the best use of law enforcement resources and it's incredibly expensive at that point because we're calling in for specialized units, we're calling in for overtime, we're calling for every available person to come and curtail that situation."
One of the other challenges facing police in New Jersey now is the lawless or reckless behavior exhibited by certain people with a disregard for the law.
"I think what is problematic, from many officers that I speak with, is a feeling I guess that people can pick and choose which laws they choose to abide by," Dellane said. "We're a nation of laws, and we're built upon that, and that's what our whole society is based upon in keeping peace and good order, and we have people that are picking and choosing which laws that they're going to abide by -- it puts us in a bad spot of having to enforce that even if it's unpopular."
One big challenge facing law enforcement today is New Jersey's Bail Reform Laws which have an added wrinkle with the more than 6,200 prisoners being released early over the last couple of years by the Murphy Administration.
"Bail reform has been incredibly frustrating, again, we recognize the rationale and the reasons behind bail reform to correct certain inequities that were going on -- I think what has happened is not only did we correct those inequities but we created a whole other set of issues," Dellane said.
One of the ways it's created an issue is with relation to auto thefts.
"I don't think it's a secret to anyone that auto thefts have exploded in this state," Dellane said. "One of the reasons behind it is, what we refer to as catch and release -- I arrest you, you get out released with certain conditions, you just totally don't want to abide by those restrictions and you can just continue on your criminal ways."
Chief Dellane also hopes to further address police-community relations and in restoring more universal respect for police and law enforcement.
"I think police-community relations is probably one of the most important things that we can do as law enforcement officers. Having a good relationship with our community is imperative in that people have to trust your community, in a police department you have be transparent. The way you develop those things is by having an open-honest dialogue with your community partners, being out in the community, being seen, sharing in the community events," Dellane said. "The issue that I think is troubling to me -- and I don't know the answer to this one -- is the level of hostility and lack of just general courtesy and respect seems to be missing and that's not a law enforcement issue, that's a societal issue."
You can listen to the full conversation I had with Chief Dellane, right here.