Gloucester Township (NJ) Police Department | Program Overview - Officer Safety
Gloucester Township (NJ) Police Department
2022 Finalist Comprehensive Safety
2022 Finalist Officer Traffic safety
2022 Finalist General Officer Safety
The Gloucester Township Police Department (GTPD) serves a residential population of approximately 70,000 citizens, is the 19th most populous municipality in New Jersey and the township covers 24 square miles. State Highway 168 and the Atlantic City Expressway are main thoroughfares through Gloucester to provide direct access to Philadelphia, PA and Atlantic City. GTPD employs 133 sworn officers, 8 Class 2 armed special officers, 20 unarmed special officers, 17 communications dispatchers, 16 non-sworn staff and over 40 volunteers.
The GTPD has been creating and maintaining a culture of resiliency within the department. It has enacted a formal policy regarding employee and family wellness, which provides resources through the department’s Employee Assistance Program, Resiliency Protection Officer Program, multi-agency peer support program and Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)program.
The GTPD’s Multi-agency Police Peer Support (MAPPS) consists of trained officers who support their fellow officers and can refer them for more professional help when needed and provide a greater pool of trained officers to assist nearby agencies.
In 2019, the state mandated that each department designate and train at least one officer as the Resilience Protection Officer (RPO). The department originally designated three officers as RPOs but has since expanded to 10. The RPO is specially trained in helping officers handle the daily stress of police work. This program also coordinates with any critical incident, in which a (CISM) program has be initiated.
The department is contracted with Cooper Health for an EAP and implemented mandatory mental health meetings. Every officer from the Chief to the newest officer will be required to attend a 45 minute, one on one meeting annually. They have contracted to have Crisis Response Canines visit the agency regularly and to be available to support their officers should the need arise.
In 2019, the department implemented a Critical Incident Personal Packet. The form is designed to be an information packet that would be beneficial to an officer’s family in the event of an officer’s critical injury or untimely death.
To ensure their officers are protected, all full-time and Class II officers are issued custom fitted level III, soft body armor and required to wear it on duty and while at the range. Non-uniformed officers are required to have their body armor with them when responding to incidents. All the GTPD tactical officers have enhanced ballistic protection that includes helmets and shields.
Every patrol vehicle is outfitted with a shotgun and a patrol rifle. Officers also have access to two ballistic shields, which are carried in the supervisor’s vehicle. GTPD requires their officers attend an additional tactical range training session each year and display proficiency with any weapon the officer is authorized to carry. Officers are also equipped with several less lethal options, such as Tasers, Pepper ball guns and ASP batons.
GTPD has three patrol K-9s and a bloodhound tracking dog, all of which have ballistic vests. The K-9 teams have thermal imaging cameras and all the GTPD officers have Body Worn Cameras (BWC), which can be monitored remotely in real time by dispatch and supervisors.
All patrol vehicles are also equipped with in car cameras and carry a medical trauma kit which contains oxygen, Narcan, trauma supplies and an extra tourniquet.
The GTPD has three tactical robots for clearing buildings and to support officers in other high risk tactical situations, as well as a fleet of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) drones, which are used in a variety of circumstances.
The GTPD has a Lenco BearCat armored vehicle. This vehicle allows officers to safely approach potentially deadly situations with the cover of an armored vehicle to rescue citizens and first responders to evacuate them in life-threatening situations. The department also conducts active shooting training at several schools and closed commercial buildings. During this training, officers include dispatchers and local fire departments and use Simmunition training weapons. Local college acting student volunteers are used as role players during scenarios.
GTPD also has specially trained crisis intervention team (CIT) to respond to scenes where persons in psychological crisis situations are believed to be involved. The GTPD trains their officers monthly in de-escalation of force. They use the department’s computer-controlled MILO range system and officers must interact with the scenario being shown on the screen to try to de-escalate the situation.
From 2012 to 2018, the GTPD had four serious crashes. In 2018, the training cadre became certified in instructing the Below 100 program and began teaching all sworn officers. Below 100 training continues to occur during roll call and posters are displayed throughout the staff areas of the department.
GTPD policy mandates that all employees and passengers wear seatbelts when operating a Township vehicle. New State statute also requires that all drivers and passengers wear seatbelts when a vehicle is operated on roadways.
To minimize the chance of officers being struck by a vehicle, all supervisors and traffic officers were trained in Traffic Incident Management (TIM) for first responders during traffic crash investigations. All officers are issued a department Hi-visibility reflective safety vests and are required to wear them at all traffic control assignments, crash scene investigations, fire scenes or any incident or event where the on-scene commander deems it appropriate.
Additionally, the department collaborated with their joint insurance fund (JIF) carrier to create a work-zone safety training video The video required as a part of the refresher class each year.
All the patrol cars have in car cameras and speed can be monitored through GPS. A speed alert can be sent to a supervisor to be reviewed to determine why a vehicle had traveled above the set speed threshold.
The department has a pursuit policy, and each instance is monitored and approved by a supervisor. A pursuit review is then conducted to ensure that the pursuit was conducted in accordance with policy and includes reviewing in car footage and BWC footage.
The Traffic Services Bureau Commander conducts a review of all officer-involved motor vehicle crashes to determine the cause and to identify any potential training issues and prevent future crashes.