Police Chief: A 28th police officer won’t be a budget burden to Metuchen

Metuchen Borough Council approved hiring a 28th police officer at the meeting earlier this month, a move described by the police chief as a budgetary wash.

The 28th officer will allow the borough to keep in place a full-time traffic safety officer. This is in keeping with council’s priorities to keep driving momentum around the creation of a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly environment in town.

“It was a good idea to have the [police] chief in here talking about the advantages of having a 28th officer and true traffic officer to protect residents and pedestrian safety and bicycle safety and traffic safety,” Metuchen Mayor Thomas Valhalla said at the October meeting.

Chief David Irizarry made a presentation before council last month on the need for 28 police officers. The borough is down to 26 because of a recent resignation. Irizarry had authorization to hire a 27th officer but needed council approval for the 28th.

Irizarry said during his presentation in September the 28th officer would not represent an additional cost to the borough. He said the hiring would basically be a wash since the borough lost a few veteran officers over recent years who were being paid at the top of the salary range.

Officers in Metuchen are paid based on a scale: patrolman’s range runs from a minimum of $41,401 to the maximum of $90,713. Detectives run from $87,537 to $93,580. Sergeant’s range is from $92,691 to $99,089, according to the borough ordinance establishing salary ranges.

Police captain’s range runs from $58,000 to $120,000 and the police chief’s salary range is $68,000 to $130,000.

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