Gloucester Township Police Chief W. Harry Earle is confident local police are ready to take over patrols of Camden County-owned properties in the township's Lakeland section.
The local police force has spent the past few months learning the lay of the land in an area of the township Camden County Park Police have patrolled to this point.
"One important area that we did focus on was training," Earle said. "We wanted to ensure going through that process that we're familiar with that complex."
The coverage transition from county park to local police officers will be finalized Monday at 8 a.m.
Gloucester Township Police Department will now patrol and respond to calls for service at several county-owned properties in the Lakeland area, including the Camden County Juvenile Detention Center and Health Services Center-Ann A. Mullen Building, DiPiero Center, and Regional Emergency Training Center.
The township police force has long patrolled the Margaret "Marge" Martin Sports Complex, which includes football and softball fields and dek hockey rinks, and Senior Campus I in the Lakeland area.
"We're in there every day, doing numerous patrols," Earle said.
Not only is Earle confident in his officers' preparedness, but he also doesn't think the additional coverage area will impact his current department's operations all that much, if at all.
"Is there the same patrol plan that we've had before, with the amount of officers that go into there? No," he said. "There could certainly be some additional costs of service based on those facilities. But, in looking back at what our department has responded to, it's a small area, really, compared to the size of area and population that we serve."
Gloucester Township police officers will only respond to fire alarms, medical emergencies and other similar police matters at the juvenile facility. On average, Camden County Park Police have handled 15 to 20 such calls per year, Camden County spokesman Dan Keashen recently told Patch.
The township will not be compensated financially for picking up the additional coverage area at Lakeland.
"We're already there. We're already doing the work in that sense and, so, you know, it's difficult for us to go the county and say, 'We're already there, but give us more money.' At the end of the day, it may be different pots of money, but it's all taxpayer money," Mayor David Mayer said. "So we have to provide services in an efficient manner. And I think that this really is allowing us to do that by improving public safety there and doing something we already kind of do."
Earle and Mayer noted the new arrangement will see township police pick up a satellite office in a county-owned building at Lakeland Road and Woodbury Turnersville Road, giving the department a facility on the township's west end.
Mayer noted the county will continue to own and maintain the Lakeland building that will serve as a home away from home, of sorts, for local police.