2023

Finalist | Traffic Safety

Gloucester Township (NJ) Police Department

State: NJ

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Overview

2023 Winner Comprehensive Safety

2023 Finalist General Officer Safety

2023 Finalist Officer Traffic safety

2022 Finalist Comprehensive Safety

2022 Finalist Officer Traffic safety

2022 Finalist General Officer Safety

The Township of Gloucester is a 24 square mile suburban community located in Camden County, New Jersey eight miles east of Philadelphia and fifty miles from Atlantic City. State Highway 168 and the Atlantic City Expressway intersect in Gloucester and allow direct access to Philadelphia and Atlantic City. The Police Department employs 134 sworn officers, 8 Class 2 armed special officers, 20 unarmed special law enforcement officers (SLEO’s), 17 communications dispatchers, 16 non-sworn staff and over 40 volunteers. Personnel serve a residential population of 70,000 citizens.

OFFICER SAFETY

Gloucester Township Police Department (GTPD) has implemented a variety of policies, training, and equipment to ensure that their officers have the necessary tools to perform to the highest standards. All officers, including those assigned to the Special Response Team (SRT), benefit from the proactive initiatives implemented throughout the department.

Officers are equipped with ballistic vests, paid for through the New Jersey Body Armor Replacement Fund, a federal grant. Members of the Special Response Team are issued front and rear rifle plates for added protection. Level IV rifle plates and ballistics helmets with face shield are issued for high-risk situations. Two ballistic shields are assigned to patrol and kept within two supervisor vehicles. Another two shields are assigned to SRT.

All officers are issued Sig Sauer P365 9mm handguns with weapon mounted lights and red dot sights. 48 officers, including 8 school resource officers, are certified to carry Colt rifles and each patrol vehicle is outfitted with a shotgun. All officers are required to qualify beyond the state mandates and attend annually, tactical range training. Officers are also trained in less lethal options to include the Taser 7 conducted energy device and pepper ball systems.

The police department has 4 canines outfitted with ballistic vests. Two are assigned to patrol and two, bloodhounds, are assigned as tracking dogs. Two thermal imaging cameras are assigned to the K-9 teams.

The department has utilized Body Worn Cameras (BWC’s) since 2017. During critical incidents dispatch can view live stream video from the officer’s BWC. Supervisors, per policy, must review footage from BWC’s and in car systems at least three times a month and after serious incidents.

All marked patrol vehicles carry medical trauma kits consisting of Oxygen, Narcan, Trauma supplies and extra tourniquets. Narcan has been deployed 246 times with 210 documented saves. 7 Automated External Defibrillators are deployed to the field.

The department has in its fleet a Lenco BearCat armored vehicle equipped with thermal imaging and a ramming bar. The vehicle is deployed during high-risk and potential high-risk situations. The department has access to additional specialized equipment including 3 tactical robots and an unmanned aircraft (UAV).

GTPD had developed an active shooter training program that is built upon a multiagency response. Including local fire departments and dispatchers into training, GTPD strives for realism by utilizing simunition’s, schools, closed commercial buildings and role players.

Officers receive monthly “de-escalation of force” training through the department’s computer-controlled MILO range system. Against a virtual backdrop, officers must deescalate the crisis. Scenarios may include shoot/don’t shoot situations.

OFFICER TRAFFIC SAFETY

The GTPD training cadre are certified Below 100 instructors. New officers receive training during their instruction phase. Refresher training is provided annually. To further increase safety, officers are required to wear seatbelts when operating Township vehicles and must wear issued high-visibility traffic vests when out of their patrol vehicles for extended periods.

The department collaborated with their joint insurance fund (JIF) carrier to create a work-zone safety training video. The video, created by subject matter experts within the department, is required to be viewed by all officers. To date, no officers have been struck by a vehicle while on a crash scene or construction area work zone.  Supervisors are further trained, along with all traffic officers, in Traffic Incident Management (TIM’s). TIM’s certified officers play a pivotal role with on-scene management of traffic accidents and the allocation of resources.

The department utilizes the AXON 3 Body Worn Camera (BWC) system and L3 in-car camera. During critical incidents, supervisors and dispatchers have access to live stream video through the officer’s BWC to see what resources are needed and to assess tactical situations. Supervisors are also required to review a sample of each officer’s BWC footage each month to confirm compliance with policy/law. Unsafe tactics are reviewed with the officer and utilized for training.

Officer speed is monitored through GPS units installed in marked and unmarked patrol vehicles. An automatic speed alert email is sent to the Professional Standards Unit (PSU} Commander and the Administration Commander when a vehicle exceeds 90 mph. Upon receiving the alert email, the Admin and PSU commanders conduct an initial review of the alert and then assign the officer’s supervisor to review the incident and reason for the excessive speed. If the speed was determined to be unwarranted or excessive for the type of incident, the officer’s immediate supervisor corrects it through training.

The department pursuit policy reflects state guidelines. All pursuits are approved and monitored by a supervisor per policy. Each pursuit is required to have a command level review completed afterwards. This review includes watching of in car camera and body worn camera video, listening to dispatch audio recordings and report review. The review is conducted to ensure that the pursuit was conducted in accordance with policy procedure and for any officer safety issues that may need to be addressed. Any issues found are corrected through training or progressive discipline if warranted.

Pursuit classroom training is conducted biannually at their training facility. Additionally, officers receive roll call training on reviews of current pursuit incidents that occur nationwide.

All officers and SLEO’s are issued a department Hi-visibility reflective traffic safety vests and are required to wear their traffic safety vest at all traffic control assignments, crash scene investigations, fire scenes or any incident or event where the on-scene commander determines that officer safety would be increased by wearing the vest.

The Traffic Services Bureau Commander conducts a review of all officers involved in motor vehicle crashes to determine the cause. Potential training to minimize future crashes is then reviewed with the training cadre and EVOC instructors. The training is then implemented through quarterly professional development or roll call training.

OFFICER WELLNESS

To aid in creating and maintaining a culture of resiliency, the department enacted a formal policy regarding employee and family wellness. The policy provides guidance on the department’s employee assistance program (EAP), resiliency protection officer program, multi-agency peer support program (MAPPS) and critical incident stress management program (CISM). Ten officers are selected, after interviews, to be part of the MAPPS team and receive 40 hours of peer support training. Team members training quarterly to stay current on best practices and agency needs. MAPPS members will be assigned by the program coordinator to facilitate CISM debriefings following critical incidents including officer involved shootings.

GTPD has partnered with Crisis Response Canines (CRC). CRC regularly visits the department, and a team will be deployed to any CISM debriefing following a critical incident. The department also utilizes Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) officers who respond to situations in which the subject may be experiencing a psychological crisis.

A 2019 statewide mandate required departments to designate at least one officer as the Resilience Protection Officer (RPO). GTPD has 10. RPO’s provide resilience training and are a resource for officers wishing to discuss personal or professional issues. The department has also contracted with Cooper Health for their Employee Assistance Program. Employees and their families receive the first five confidential visits free of charge. In addition to these services, department members are required to meet once a year, for 45 minutes, with a designated psychologist. These confidential meetings are scheduled during work hours and provide officers with another outlet to seek services without being stigmatized.

The department puts out a monthly wellness bulletin, addressing such topics as nutrition, health screenings, sleep practices, mindfulness, and other healthy life choices. It has also created a personnel packet that can be filled out with pertinent information to be used in cases where the officer is killed or injured and unable to communicate.

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This summary is only a brief overview of many of the agency’s programs. In the actual submission you will see that the agency has other programs and incentives to benefit its members.  Please review their entire submission and its associated documents to gain a complete understanding of their program.