Who Will Protect Woodlynne, NJ?

April 28, 2009 4:03:09 PM PDT
A deal with a neighboring police force ends in June.

And that has town officials scrambling to find an alternate way to keep residents safe.

Right now, Collingswood police serve Collingswood and Woodlynne. But in June that will change, according to Collingswood mayor Jim Maley.

"The relationship that we had, and the services we had to provide, were more than what Woodlynne is able to compensate us for," said Maley. "That's why we had to bring this to an end."

Woodlynne mayor Jeraldo Fuentes says his town paid Collingswood $675,000 through June and under an agreement was to pay $699,000 through June 2010. Now Woodlynne is searching to buy the services of another police department.

"The three towns we are looking into are Haddon Township, Oaklyn and Audubon," said Fuentes. "I can say that Audubon has been driving around here. Their chief and their mayor have been driving around just to get a feel for what this town looks like."

Woodlynne is a fraction of the size of Collingswood, but Chief Tom Garrity says according to statistics it has a much higher crime rate. When his department began patrolling the streets of Woodlynne three years ago, six officers were hired. Now they will be let go.

"To put more officers over there, I had to decrease the amount of officers in Collingswood," said Garrity. "So the Collingswood residents are seeing a decrease in service. It's not fair to the Woodlynne residents, and it's not fair to the Collingswood residents."

Woodlynne residents we spoke with say Collingswood police have done a good job here.

"The streets have actually been safer due to their patrolling," said resident Ruben Martinez. "To keep them on would be a benefit to this town."

Mayor Fuentes says all options are on the table. Those include partnering with other towns, asking the New Jersey State Police for help, and even bringing back the Woodlynne Police Department. One thing he says is for sure: his town will not be without some kind of police protection.

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