"Nearly 45% of the entire municipal budget is spent on public safety operations for the community making it the single biggest driver of expenses that taxpayers incur. With that comes great responsibility to ensure people and property are always protected with the greatest efficiencies in place and a focus on cost optimization. Ten years ago, the police department had 57 officers, today it has 47 officers yet crime is down 22% since then. There are many ways to get better outcomes without assuming you just need to throw money around to get there." - Sheena
Under Sheena’s leadership, prior findings from an independent assessment on police operations were put into effect including a new schedule which saved taxpayers money while improving efficiencies, enhancing community policing and introducing an aggressive campaign focused on pedestrian safety which has yielded an average of nearly 10,000 summonses annually over the past two years (speeding, illegal left-turns, failure to stop for pedestrians, etc.). Serious crime is down 11% since 2016 and remains steady at roughly 300 incidents annually, with 88% being non-violent crime (theft-related). Additionally, Sheena has worked with the Police Chief to implement training with respect to implicit bias and de-escalation and, since 2015, 11 of 16 new hires have been people of color bringing greater diversity to the department.
With respect to fire services, Sheena initiated the shared service study with the Township of Maplewood that found the two towns would be best served by consolidating departments which would streamline training, enhance fire safety services, and save taxpayers money on operating and capital expenses. To date, Sheena continues to work with stakeholders and the state on a fire department merger that will be the first of its kind in New Jersey.
Moving forward, Sheena will work to:
- Complete the long-overdue renovations to Police Headquarters, improving working conditions for law enforcement to successfully complete their duties.
- Keep pedestrian safety initiatives at the forefront of Traffic Bureau and train 50% of officers in radar operations by 2020 to aggressively enforce speed limits throughout town.
- Adopt a formal civilian-review board to work with the Village’s Public Safety Committee and law enforcement to ensure fair and impartial policing is at the forefront of every police encounter. Additionally, force reports will be publicly posted on the village’s website.
- Consolidate the fire department with the Township of Maplewood to deliver better fire services at a lower cost to taxpayers.
- Re-establish the Community Emergency Response Team to augment first responders in major storm events allowing police, fire, and EMS to focus on high priority issues.
- Finalize plans and implement smart technology with PSE&G to greatly reduce the number of power outages and minimize time for restoration.