Scotch Plains Hires Consultant for Police Department Merger

Mayor Mahr expressed disappointment when she originally learned of a consultant.

At the Oct. 16 Fanwood Council Meeting, Mayor Colleen Mahr announced that she learned Scotch Plains added an item to their agenda to hire a consultant on the issue of merging the police departments of both Scotch Plains and Fanwood.

The two towns have been meeting for over a year to work out issues on whether it makes sense to merge the police departments of both towns into one.

Mahr pointed out that she felt blindsided and that the two towns were supposed to meet for their usual police department merger meeting in only two days(Oct. 18).

"I'm angry and frustrated by them, they could have discussed it with us on Thursday," she said.

When speaking to Mahr she added that she understands Scotch Plains does not need Fanwood's approval when making a decision. But she looked at the hiring of consultant without notifying them more of a courtesy issue.

She also added that she did not understand the rush to hire a consultant for $4,000, which they never mentioned wanting to move forward with.

After speaking with Mayor Mary DePaola, she told Patch that Scotch Plains next council meeting was not until Nov. 20, so the council felt to move the process forward they should approve the consultant at the Oct. 16 meeting.

DePaola added that Mahr mentioned in past meetings that a set of a objective eyes would be helpful.

Mahr said that she had brought up concerns during meetings, but they did not seem to be taken into consideration.

Additionally, DePaola mentioned that at the two meetings Mahr was absent for, the Scotch Plains team got together on issues that impacted the entire organization, not just the Scotch Plains Police Department. 

Mahr told Patch that she was unsure of what she was to do now that Scotch Plains hired a consultant.

"Do I get a consultant too"," she said.

Patch spoke to Mahr prior to the two towns police department merger meeting. 

Following the meeting, DePaola said the Scotch Plains members told Mahr and the Fanwood members that she would set up a meeting with the consultant.

Once everyone had a chance to meet with the consultant, Mahr could decide how she wants to be added to the contract, which DePaola held off on signing.

To move forward, Mahr can decide to pay into the consultant Scotch Plains has hired, leave the consultant to work under Scotch Plains' pay, or hire a separate consultant for Fanwood.

Being that no one on either side has law enforcement experience, DePaola and the Scotch Plains team agreed that an objective set of eyes would help them move forward on the handful of difficult issues they have left to work out.

"We are eager to be partners with Fanwood, this is just a minor bump in the road," DePaola said. 

firedup49 October 24, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Holden MaGroin I think there are many actors (Dems & Repub) in this, and I would like to know the leader to quote Betty Davis.. "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night.
firedup49 October 24, 2012 at 09:45 PM
SPF Residents Take Historic Step Towards Consolidation of Neighboring Towns Courage to Re-connect petitions the Local Finance Board to commission a municipal consolidation study. By Emily Everson Email the author February 16, 2012 Over the past year, this community has seen an escalation in discussions regarding shared services, including a possible police merger.  Fanwood Mayor, Colleen Mahr, who has dedicated much of her time as Mayor to revitalizing downtown Fanwood, has remained adamant in her opposition to full consolidation. However, Scotch Plains Mayor, Nancy Malool of has openly voiced her support for pursuing a municipal consolidation study, under the Local Option Municipal Consolidation Act, passed in 2007. http://scotchplains.patch.com/articles/spf-residents-take-historic-step-towards-consolidation-of-neighboring-towns
Holden MaGroin October 24, 2012 at 09:54 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for firedup. I believe you are right. We now have supposed people in the know who say Mahr was aware of this. Mahr is quoted as saying she wasn't. DePaola takes a swipe by referencing the meetings that Mahr didn't attend, and all the while Rome burns. But not to worry my friend, to use some favorite hyperbole, these a mere "bumps in the road".
cnewman October 25, 2012 at 12:26 AM
i agree it is phony outrage - what a joke!
mrsp January 04, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Oh my! I just had the oddest experience with the Scotch Plains Police Department -- some construction or utility work (on Park, going east, after the school) was resulting in an extremely dangerous left turn (from Pleasant Ave.) for detouring drivers, possible accident -- and assumed the police dispatcher would say, "thank you sir we will send an officer to attend to this". Instead I got the kind of arrogant, smirking response I literally haven't heard since visiting a third world country (before getting shaken down, I might add)! I am not a Scotch Plains resident but have always generally had a positive impression of the town being pleasant, orderly and with strong community participation and activism. And so I see this article -- I can see you all have bigger fish to fry than public servants with suspicious behavior. Good luck and may your return to first world problems come quickly.


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