July 18, 2018 | ° F

City police to reintroduce volunteer-based unit

The New Brunswick Police Department is accepting applications from local residents interested in volunteering for the town’s new police auxiliary unit.

Sgt. Scott Gould, supervisor of the Community Outreach Unit, said the primary motivation for creating the program was to enhance the relationship that exists between the NBPD and the local community.

“With the program, we’re really hoping to improve the communication between the police and residents,” Gould said. “The auxiliary unit would be able to get to personally know some of the officers, and this will result in a better exchange of information.”

Under the program, trained auxiliary members will patrol the New Brunswick parks and streets alongside officers, he said.

“The program will allow residents to get more involved and will lead to a better co-existence between the police and the community,” Gould said.

He said all applicants interested in joining the force must meet a set of eligibility requirements and complete a 14-week Auxiliary Police Academy training, a process put in place for safety reasons.

During the training program, residents will learn traffic control, patrolling rules, city laws and a how-to guide for handcuffing people, if the situation should ever arise, Gould said.

Applicants must undergo a background check, possess a high school diploma or GED, possess a valid N.J. driver’s license and be a U.S. citizen and resident of New Brunswick, said Michael Beltranena, city spokesman.

Gould said the program was previously offered in the early 1990s, but it was shut down soon after.

The city is reinstating the program because of growing public interest, said Beltranena.

“I don’t know why the program ended before,” he said. “It was probably due to a lack of interest, but we’ve had residents express an interest in participating.”

Gould said he does not think the program will suffer from limited participation this time.

“We’ve already had volunteers sign up, expressing that they’d like to participate in the program,” he said. “It’s all about getting the word out there and informing people about the program. If we do that, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a success.” 

Gould said nearby towns, including Metuchen and Edison, have had auxiliary police units for 20 to 30 years, a decision that provided positive effects for both communities. Those units were part of the motivation for restarting the New Brunswick counterpart, he said.

Abhinav Damaraju, a School of Engineering sophomore and New Brunswick resident, said the auxiliary unit would be a good way to reconcile some of the tension that exists between the community and the local police.

“I remember that a couple months ago, a lot of local residents were angered by a shooting that took place,” Damaraju said. “There were a couple of protests, and a lot of people were upset at the police.”

Gould said he is in favor of the auxiliary unit because the use of volunteers will not cost the taxpayers any money while increasing the community’s safety.

The program has gained support from a number of public officials, including Mayor Michael Cahill, Beltranena said.

“Mayor Cahill is strongly in favor of this auxiliary unit,” he said. “It’s always good to have more involvement from the community.”

Applications are available on the NBPD website and must be postmarked by Feb. 8.

By Rina Mody

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