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Chief's Leave Not Tied to Report

Matthew Hersh

Just days before a top-to-bottom independent study of the Princeton Township Police Department recommended a cut in as many as seven supervisory officers, 12-year Chief Anthony Gaylord, a 40-year veteran with the force, took a permanent, paid leave of absence. Chief Gaylord, 63, who will officially retire February 1, 2007, will be paid his annual salary of $138,459 until that time, whereupon he will be able to collect a yearly pension of $96,291. While Township officials have said that the chief's leave of absence was merely coincidental with the findings of the report, it comes at a time when the Township is looking to retool the force, which the 400-page report described as "top heavy."

Compiled and conducted by Carroll Buracker & Associates, Inc., a Virginia-based public safety consulting group hired by the Township, the study was the first complete examination of the department in over 10 years. However, Township officials have indicated that the idea of re-energizing the force by changing the leadership roles was already under consideration before the results of the report were presented to Township Committee June 27. Chief Gaylord's departure is being described as "personal" and is not the result of misconduct, officials said.

"It's an unfortunate coincidence of timing," said Deputy Mayor Bernie Miller, who re-iterated that the chief's departure had nothing to do with the report. "Tony decided that he wanted to take a personal leave of absence: and he did," Mr. Miller said, adding that if the chief wants a leave of absence for personal reasons, "he should have it." Edmond Konin, an attorney for the Township, said that the time between now and Chief Gaylord's 2007 retirement could be termed "accumulated time," indicating that anyone who has unused time off can take an early leave. However, Mr. Konin would not elaborate, saying that "personnel issues are personal issues."

In the meantime, Capt. Mark Emann will carry out the duties assigned to the chief. There is, however, no indication that Capt. Emann will succeed Chief Gaylord, or that the chief's spot will even be filled once his retirement becomes official. Lt. Michael Henderson said the chief's absence would not have any adverse impact on the department's daily operations.

"Basically, we're just operating as if he's on vacation," he said. Lt. Henderson added that the vacancy does open opportunities for a re-organization like that recommended by the Buracker team.

"In [Gaylord's] absence we have a new management team in place that's anxious to work with Township Committee, although, it's somewhat tenuous because you don't have the chief/captain/lieutenant structure in place," he said.

Chief Gaylord's 40-year presence on the Township force will be missed: "All of our careers, he's been here," Lt. Henderson said.

As far as acting on the Buracker report, Lt. Henderson echoed members of Township Committee when he said that it needs to be reviewed closely before any of the recommendations are executed.



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