7 N.J. towns to study combining administration of police departments

Seven municipalities in Camden County are exploring the possibility of combining the administration of their individual police departments.

The towns — Audubon, Collingswood, Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, Haddon Township, Mount Ephraim and Oaklyn — already have a partnership between them, known as the Colonial Alliance. Now officials are seeking feasibility studies on the effects of a merger and potential cuts in administrative costs.

The proposed pooling would combine administration, but not police manpower. Each municipality would retain its own force.

“We’re small but we need to utilize each other’s strengths a little more,” Haddon Heights Mayor Edward Forte Jr. said Monday.

Earlier this year in Mercer County, Princeton Borough and Princeton Township successfully merged, leading to an estimated $3.2 million in savings. That union followed years of study.

A study in Bergen County, however, did not lead to an actual merger.

Collingswood Police Chief Richard J. Sarlo would say only that the municipalities “are conducting a feasibility study to possibly look into the consolidation of police services.”

Another potentially money-saving consolidation for the towns would be joining with the new Camden County Police Department, which took over policing of Camden in the spring. However, the proposed study will not explore that option.

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