Jack Ciattarelli once tried to abolish municipal police departments…and failed

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Long before the term “defund the police” was a catchphrase by America’s left, New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli was trying to do just that. Source: NJ.Com

Back in 2012, then as an elected member of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Ciattarelli had a plan to cut $44 million in funding from the 19 municipal police agencies with an attempt to merge them all into a single police force.

The idea was too far fetched for both Democrat and Republican mayors in those counties. Eventually, they rejected the plan. Ciattarelli called it an ‘affront to the taxpayers’ having the nineteen separate police forces each with their own patrol cars, headquarters, communications systems and management structures.

The problem isn’t unique to Somerset County, it’s a statewide issue, but in the ten years since, many departments around the state have found their own way through the budget crisis that loomed a decade ago. Many opted for shared services between departments, consolidation of expert services with other departments, consolidation of SWAT and emergency response teams, shared contracts and in some cases eliminating outdated municipal communications services and replacing them with county communication services and centralized countywide 9-1-1 call centers.

“We cannot continue to gripe about property taxes and then do nothing to transform our cost structure,” Ciattarelli said. “The regionalization of police is the best way to transform our cost structure.”

Ciattarelli slammed municipal police departments and local chiefs as simple and small minded elitists.

“In certain areas there seems to be a certain elitism at work,” the GOP candidate for Governor said. “In other pockets of communities, there seems to be small-mindedness, narrow-mindedness and even closed-mindedness.”

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Ciattarelli spent three years trying to sell his police consolidation and defunding effort and as governor, it could be something he may try to push statewide, consolidating every police force in the state into 21 county agencies working under the local elected Sheriff’s office.

In order to cut those costs, Ciattarelli was hoping aging high-ranking officers would be pushed into retirement and that the new consolidated police force would lower wages and benefits drastically for new recruits.