The Burlington County Safe Streets Initiative will use money from the seized proceeds of criminal activity to support operations proposed by municipal police departments to address specific problems in their towns.
“This initiative will provide our local police departments with additional resources for anti- crime operations to improve the safety of their communities,” Prosecutor Coffina said. “Local police departments are best positioned to understand the challenges posed by criminal activity within their towns, and to propose proactive interdiction operations. Our goal is to support these operations and bring additional resources from across the county to reinforce their efforts to reduce violent crime.”
Citing an increase in homicides throughout Burlington County over the past 18 months, and a recent incident in which two cars were shooting at each other while driving through a residential neighborhood in Willingboro in the early evening, Prosecutor Coffina informally labeled the endeavor “Enough is Enough!” He said that while the goal is to target violent crime, the Prosecutor’s Office will also consider operations that might deter or address the potential threat of such activity.
The initiative is supported by the Burlington County Chiefs of Police Association, said Medford Township Police Chief Richard Meder, the organization’s president.
“The law enforcement agencies of Burlington County have a strong history of working cooperatively to fight crime and protect our residents,” Chief Meder said. “This initiative will further that collaborative effort. The Chiefs of Police Association fully supports this idea. We welcome the resources that are being provided and expect this initiative to be heavily utilized, not just in municipalities experiencing violent crime, but throughout the county.”
The initiative is structured to allow a department seeking to conduct an operation to request additional officers from participating departments across the county to support that operation. The Prosecutor’s Office will review the operational plan, and use funds forfeited from prior criminal activity to reimburse the costs of those departments sending personnel to participate in another town’s operation.
The departments that are requesting additional officers will fund the salaries of their own personnel during the operations. Under the guidelines of the initiative, funding must be used to support discrete anti-violence initiatives and not to supplement traditional street patrols.
The initiative will remain in effect until December 31, 2018, or until the $50,000 designated to support the program is exhausted.
In addition to the Burlington County Safe Streets Initiative, Prosecutor Coffina also announced changes to the summer work schedules for investigators assigned to the BCPO’s Major Crimes, Gun Violence, Narcotics, Crime Scene and Sexual Assault/Child Abuse units.
On a rotating basis, detectives will be assigned shifts that stretch into the evening, and be available to respond to more incidents of violent crime where there may be evidence to connect criminal activity across jurisdictional lines within the county.
“This will give us greater coverage during times when the streets are more active, particularly in the summer months,” Prosecutor Coffina said. “It allows us to gather more intelligence on drug activity and gun violence, and determine the connection these incidents might have to other crimes and those who are committing them.”