Patty Decorsey said she is worried about the uptick in crime in her Woodland Avenue neighborhood.
"We've had a number of break-ins and I'm alarmed," Decorsey said this week at a borough commissioner's meeting, as she clutched the hand of her son, a fourth-grader who was there for a class assignment. "I wonder, have we been finding these people?"
Police Chief John Banning, who attended the meeting, told Decorsey that burglaries are a "top priority." Commissioner Ed Borden, who oversees the police department for the three-member Board of Commissioners, told her police have increased patrols during daylight hours. The latest state crime figures recorded a 250-percent increase in burglaries in Haddonfield.
What Banning didn't tell Decorsey is he and his two lieutenants have hopped back into squad cars to patrol the borough during high-crime periods, like daytimes, when many of the burglaries have occurred. He spoke about it to a reporter after the meeting.
"We're trying to get as many people as we can out patrolling, seeing if we see anything suspicious," Banning said. "We're seeing what the circumstance are, seeing if we can pick up any trends."
Banning said he tries to get out as often as possible.
"We're a small department and we're trying to get more bodies out there."
There are 21 officers in the department, down from 25 over the last several years. Lt. Gary Pierce, a 25-year veteran, is retiring at the end of the month. Officials said they don't know if he will be replaced with another hire.
Borden said having Banning back on the street has benefits and drawbacks.
"We have less leadership and administration in the department than two years ago," Borden said. "The day-to-day task of running the department has to get done when they are on the street. I do think it's a good idea for them to patrol, on the short term."