Brick police officials will look to add new officers to the department in 2020 following what appears to have been a record year for calls to the agency.
Chief James Riccio said Monday night during a departmental budget presentation that he is requesting the mayor and council allow him to hire four additional officers this year. The department will also replace seven retirees, meaning 11 new officers will be added to the roster. Riccio said maintaining a 146-officer force is the goal.
Though just a few additional officers are being requested, Brick police had one of their busiest years ever in 2019. The department was called 92,676 times, about 5,000 more calls than were handled the previous year. Of the 92,676 calls for service, 1,636 were for fires. The department also handled a number of homicides, shootings and drug cases that garnered headlines across the region. Financially speaking, the breadth of the response required to investigate those cases helped push the department’s overtime expenditure to $972,480.
“In 2019, we unfortunately had a number of tragic incidents which contributed to the rise in overtime costs,” said Riccio.
Currently, the department is working with 138 full-time, sworn officers, 28 full-time EMTs and 15 part-time EMTs. Crossing guards, dispatchers and administrative staff round out the 256-member department.
Riccio said he would request a budget of $19,545,000 for salaries and benefits for the department overall, and $1,740,572 specifically for EMT costs – which are more than covered by insurance reimbursements.
The Brick department is also saving money by hiring lower-paid class-one special officers, who are unarmed and have limited law enforcement powers, to act as booking officers in order to free up manpower on the street. It also helps limit overtime by moving some administrative work to part-time officers instead of paying overtime to full-time officers.