Hazlet Police Dept. Rebuilding with New Hiring, Promotions

Nearly half the force of 50 officers have been lost in recent years to retirements, but new officers have joined and seasoned officers are taking command.

Lt. Robert Mulligan was promoted to Lieutenant at the June 17 meeting of the Hazlet Township Committee.
Lt. Robert Mulligan was promoted to Lieutenant at the June 17 meeting of the Hazlet Township Committee.

In recent years, the Hazlet Police Dept. has lost nearly half of its 50 officers to retirement.

This week, Police Chief Jim Broderick and his staff are poring over Civil Service exam results to fill four new open positions with the highest scoring candidates residing in Hazlet. Once they are employed, the force will be 40-strong. 

"Once we get the next group trained and on the road we should be at a good point," said Broderick. "I don't ever expect the department to get back to 50 officers, as the realities of economics on the local level must take priority." 

Operating at a 20 percent smaller force has meant that Hazlet Police no longer have an assigned School Resource Officer at Raritan High School, DARE officers in the grammar schools or full-time traffic safety, said Broderick. Jobs that used to be performed by police officers, such as evidence custodian and records supervisor, are being performed by civilians so more officers can go on the road. 

In 2013, nine new recruits were brought on the force to fill vacancies. The new hires, who completed field training in May, are now out patrolling on their own. 

Last week, three officers were promoted to Lieutenant on Tuesday, to replace retiring members.Lieutenants oversee a squad of six officers and a sergeant.

Officers Robert Mulligan, Scott Mura and Ted Wittke will be paid $110,538 pro rated, as set by PBA contract, to fill positions left open by recent retirements of Det. Lt. Charles McBride, Lt. David Brett and Lt. Stephen Schmidt. 

Lieutenants now rank below Deputy Chief in the Hazlet Police order. There are no longer Captains in between, said Broderick. "When you lose 22 officers and you go down to 28 officers, you have to restructure your organization," he explained.

Sergeant promotions are on hold for now, after the U.S. Dept. of Justice filed a lawsuit alleging that New Jersey Civil Service exam for promotion to police sergeant discriminates against African-Americans and Hispanics. Hazlet's officers took the promotional test June 1, 2013.  "It has been over a year and test results are not expected anytime soon," said Broderick.

This story included reporting and photos by Rachelle Legrand. 



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