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At newly seated Mayor Daniel Rodrick's request, the Toms River Township Council introduced an ordinance Jan. 18 that will permanently cut the number of Police Department captains' positions from three to one. The cuts will be made through attrition according to Rodrick, who added that cutting the captains' jobs will save more than $700,000 in salaries and benefits. Two captains are slated to retire in June.

Rather than use the savings to plug what Rodrick described as a “$3.5 million budget shortfall”, Rodrick intends to use the money to deliver on a campaign promise made to barrier island residents.

"This will put an additional ambulance on the road, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is a matter of life and death. This is not an easy decision but we have begun the process."

When the ordinance eliminating the two Captains positions and creating 8 additional EMT positions was introduced, Councilman James Quinlisk nearly leapt out of his chair. "My vote is absolutely 'no,'” he said, to loud applause from the crowd. “You're trying to move money from the first people at every call. Taking away our officers, taking away our captains, it's cutting our nose off to spite our face."

Quinlisk's running mate, David Ciccozzi, accused Rodrick of “defunding the police.”

Toms River Police Officer Ted Maloney noted that the supervisory officers oversee 162 police officers, 30 to 35 Class III officers, including those who work in the township's schools, as well as about 20 Class I and II officers and park police.

"Those captains do not only supervise our lieutenants, they are in charge of financing, they are in charge of purchasing," Maloney said. "That is what makes the world go around."

One of the other positions being cut by Rodrick and the Council is that of Police Department spokesperson.

Jillian Messina, who has served as spokeswoman for the police department for the past seven years, said she routinely worked 60 hours a week at her job. Messina's job has now been eliminated, she will be replaced by township spokesperson Phil Stilton, who was hired by Rodrick at a salary of $89,000 a year. According to Rodrick Stilton will handle both jobs.

Rising in opposition to the plan was Toms River Township's Philip Brilliant who demanded that Rodrick explain the financial breakdown, pressing to know if more officers were being cut to cover the cost of the EMT's.

Rodrick insisted that the addition of the eight EMT's would not require cuts in police staffing, which are under the supervision of the police department.

"You're not being 100 percent honest," Brilliant said. "This is something that needs to be studied and looked at. I don't know why in 18 days we feel we have to do the world's work. I know God did his work in six days and rested on the seventh, but you're no god and it's not going to happen."

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