Category Archives: Chief David A. Paprota, ED.D

A Final Message to Lacey Township from Chief David A. Paprota, Ed.D.

Chief David A. Paprota, Ed.D.

With 27 years overall in law enforcement, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to spend my last 4 years serving as the Chief of Police of the Lacey Township Police Department. Serving as the O.I.C. then Chief of Police since December 1, 2012, has truly been an honor and a privilege. I am very proud of the accomplishments of the Lacey Township Police Department and the Township as a whole. My official retirement on August 1, 2016, marks the end of my tenure in law enforcement and the beginning of the next chapter in my life. I am confident that, with continuing community support moving forward, the police department and Lacey Township will continue to progress to all new heights. Continue reading A Final Message to Lacey Township from Chief David A. Paprota, Ed.D.

Lacey PD’s “Meet-the-Officer Day 2016”

Chief David A. Paprota, Ed.D.

The Lacey Township Police Department has begun the 2016 COPs Collectible Card Program. The members of the police department, through the Lacey Municipal Police Foundation, began the program by working to produce the design for 72 separate trading cards. The program officially kicked-off on March 28, 2016, after holding special assemblies at each of the elementary schools and the middle school, Thus far, the program is being met with unprecedented excitement and participation by the youth of Lacey Township and their families.  Continue reading Lacey PD’s “Meet-the-Officer Day 2016”

Holiday Shopping Security Tips

The holiday season is a special time of year which involves regular trips by many to the local malls. With the increased amount of shopping comes the increased concern regarding thefts of unsecured items in parking lots and from shopping carts. While most thefts tend to be crimes of opportunity committed in the moment by those who did not set out to steal, there are others who go to the shopping centers during the holiday season seeking out opportunities to steal valuable items. Whether it is from within cars in the parking lots or purses left unattended momentarily in shopping carts, those who set out to steal during the holiday season generally find no shortage of potential victims. The most common thefts come by way of cars left unsecured in parking lots with shopping bags of purchased items clearly visible from outside the vehicles.
Continue reading Holiday Shopping Security Tips

Emergency Preparedness through Enhanced Emergency Management

01 - Chief David Paprota_ID Photo 2013

Chief David A. Paprota, Ed.D.

Emergency management planning is a continuous process of formulating plans, reviewing and revising existing plans, and ensuring that emergency responders are fully trained to implement the plans when necessary. On July 1, 2015, the emergency management function for Lacey Township was shifted into the police department with the chief of police designated as the township’s emergency management coordinator. The emergency management function serves as a critical component of a response to any largescale emergency. In most towns, the function is handled through the respective police department, since municipal police departments are 24/7 operations, while other emergency services within the municipalities are often volunteer, part-time functions.

The first order of business was for the chief of police to begin a critical audit of all emergency operations plans (EOPs) and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure consistency of language which provides a template for the appropriate unity of action and direction throughout an emergency. Working with county, state, and federal officials, all of the emergency operations plans and SOPs are currently being updated and will be tested through upcoming largescale, practical exercises. The largescale exercises are being conducted in conjunction with not only other surrounding agencies but with the New Jersey State Police, FBI and FEMA as well.

Another critical component of the emergency management function is to ensure effective communications throughout a largescale emergency. Most important within this concern is the aspect of interoperability of radio communications between assisting agencies. In Ocean County, municipalities operate on varying radio frequency bands often requiring different equipment in each municipality. In order for agencies to communicate directly with each other, special actions must be taken to acquire and implement the necessary equipment with the appropriate programing to ensure interoperability. Likewise, significant coordination of channel selection between agencies is necessary as well. The Lacey Township Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Lacey Township Police Department will be working with our partners in emergency response to fine tune the local protocols to ensure full communications capabilities in the event of a largescale emergency.

In line with the desire to ensure enhanced communications capabilities, the chief of police has been actively working on Lacey Township having our first, fully functional mobile command center which will support both the police department and emergency management in the years to come. Utilizing rehabilitated existing equipment, while also pursuing grant funding for new equipment, the Lacey Township Police Department Mobile Commander Center is now available for deployment. The police department has been upgrading a decommissioned fire vehicle to serve as a fully functional mobile command center. This allows for an extended range of communications into the township’s more remote areas while also allowing for a more formalized on-scene command center during an emergency. Once fully upgraded, the mobile command center will also serve as an alternate communications center for police operations and may be utilized as an alternate emergency operations center for emergency management should police headquarters  ever need to be evacuated. It includes a generator for on-scene electrical power; additional, supplemental, scene lighting; enhanced, dual-banded radio capabilities; computer capabilities including Internet; command boards; tactical maps; and essential support equipment as well. The mobile command center is one of the many steps currently being taken within the Lacey Township Police Department and the Office of Emergency Management to greatly improve our ability to serve Lacey Township.

 

The Reality of Mental Illness & Policing

01 - Chief David Paprota_ID Photo 2013

Written By: Chief David A. Paprota Ed.D.

 

Mental illness is a daily reality for many who struggle with both diagnosed and undiagnosed disorders that impact not only the individuals but their families as well. The reality includes the fact that the Lacey Township Police Department has been handling between twelve to twenty-two cases per month involving significant incidents of mental illness. In many of the cases, the responding police officers are required by law to take the distressed individual into custody and transport him or her to the hospital for psychological screening. The criteria officers are required to follow include the assessment as to whether the individual is presenting him or herself as a danger to self, others, or property due to mental illness. If the officer makes that assessment or is handed either a court order or an authorization for police transport signed by a designated psychological screener, the officers are compelled by law to take the individual into involuntary custody. Furthermore, rather than calling for an ambulance, the officers are required to transport the otherwise uninjured patient to the hospital and remain with the patient until the hospital staff members indicate that it is safe for the officers to leave. Depending on the demeanor and/or the custody status (i.e., criminal arrest) of the patient, the police department’s staffing of an officer or officers at the hospital has ranged from as brief as ten minutes to most recently an around the clock watch for seven straight days.

If the subject is under arrest and to be committed to a county or state correctional facility, the officer must remain at the hospital and stand guard. The Lacey Township Police Department has dealt with two separate serious cases in recent months which involved the requirement that Lacey Township officers stand guard at the Community Medical Center in Toms River twenty-four hours a day for three days in one case and a seven day period in the most recent case. In both incidents, the county correctional facility refused to take temporary custody of the arrestee while awaiting transfer to a designated state facility. Likewise, the state correctional officials refused to take custody of the patient until a room was available in a designated state correctional/mental health facility. Although odd, it has become more common for municipal police departments to be left responsible for guarding criminal detainees who have demonstrated the need to be committed to a mental health correctional facility. Ironically, a municipal police department is left to guard a mentally distressed and potentially dangerous arrestee in a civilian hospital because they are considered too dangerous to be held by a correctional facility other than one of the specially designed mental health facilities which have very limited capacity.

Mental illness is more prevalent in today’s society than many realize. When not properly treated, the consequences in some instances are incidents of criminal behavior, and in extreme cases, incidents of suicide. Lacey Township police officers are accustomed to dealing with mental illness in an array of settings. Training and practical experience have proven to be the key to successfully dealing with persons suffering from mental illness. While some encounters pose a heightened danger to the responding officers, given the high volume of mental illness encounters, officers have proven to be very effective in successfully getting patients to the help they need.

Impaired Driving Enforcement

by Chief David A. Paprota, Ed.D.

 

The enforcement of the impaired driving laws is a high priority for the Lacey Township Police Department. The danger presented to the public by motorists who knowingly choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while impaired is all too often realized through one tragic incident after another. In 2014, Lacey Township experienced three fatal motor vehicle crashes with two of the three fatalities directly due to impaired drivers recklessly operating vehicles. In the two separate crashes, the people who died were innocent victims unrelated and unassociated with the impaired driver. In both crashes, the impaired drivers walked away uninjured while the lives of the families of the victims were changed forever. Many nonfatal crashes throughout 2014 also involved the presence of alcohol and/or drugs as a contributory factor in the motor vehicle crashes.

The Lacey Township Police Department has averaged over 110 DUI convictions per year through diligent enforcement efforts, detailed investigations, and very effective prosecutions. While the penalties for a DUI offense are severe and pose a great hardship to the offender and his or her family, that hardship pales in comparison to the negative impact DUI offenses have on innocent victims and their families. Many of the DUI arrests in 2014 were the result of officers responding to motor vehicle crashes only to find that the person responsible was operating their vehicle DUI.

Throughout 2015, the patrol officers of the Lacey Township Police Department will continue to detect and deter DUI offenders through both focused patrols and approved checkpoints. While DUI enforcement is a department-wide and consistent effort involving all patrol officers, the police department currently has two of the most experienced and knowledgeable Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) in the county. Both officers serve a vital function in ensuring accountability when an offender is impaired due to drugs rather than alcohol. The county-wide DRE program includes a shared services agreement which allows for a Lacey Township Police Department DRE to assist other towns throughout the year as well. The additional experience each DRE achieves through the extra exposure under the shared services agreement has proven to be a great benefit to our efforts here in Lacey Township.

The police department will once again be working with our partners in law enforcement throughout Ocean County to conduct roving DUI patrols along with specially designed and planned DUI checkpoints. Specifically dedicated grant funds allow for the additional focused DUI enforcement details throughout the year.  The intent of the extra efforts which are specifically focused on DUI enforcement is to make the roadways in Lacey Township as safe as possible for the motoring public. Deterrence is the primary objective of the police department’s efforts. Ideally, through additional awareness and deterrence, potential DUI offenders will make the choice to not get behind the wheel and potentially save a life in the process.

Teens and the Influence of the Internet and Social Media

By:  Chief David A. Paprota, Ed.D.

The Internet and the use of social media have created a whole new social dynamic for today’s teens that differs tremendously from the social environment that their parents experienced as teens. The concept of social exchange and interaction is no longer dependent upon physical proximity or an individual telephone call, but is instead a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week constant reality. Teens are deeply invested in the use of social media, and as such, they experience the constant pressures of peer influence and often times peer criticism that may have a profound impact on their self-esteem as well as their behavior(s). The pressure teens face today due to ever present and unregulated social media postings and exchanges needs to be considered and better understood by parents.

Parents should be well versed in the types of social media applications their teens are utilizing. The thought of parents having access to a teen’s social media accounts is often met with the concern regarding “trust” and “respecting the teen’s privacy.” These are legitimate concerns, as teens will be the first to passionately raise the issue when parents ask for access. The reality is that the Internet and the use of social media literally bring the ills of the entire world directly into the hands of teenagers. Every conceivable negative influence is readily available via the Internet and is regularly posted by others via social media.

The thought of a 15-year-old boy walking out of his parents’ home stating that he is going alone to the city to “hang” for a few days without any further contact or involvement of the parents, would be met with an appropriate response that such an undertaking would be ridiculous and not acceptable. This seems obvious, yet most parents allow the unfettered and unmonitored use of social media which brings the ills of society directly into the hands of teens. Parental monitoring and guidance is an expected and necessary part of a teen’s healthy psycho-social development and safety. Unfortunately, when parental oversight and monitoring relates to the Internet and social media, there is often an immediate mention of a perceived lack of trust and privacy. The analogy of releasing the teen alone for days in the city is not a far stretch, as the use of social media among teens may involve every conceivable concern a parent can have when dealing with the most troubling aspects of our society.

Videos, photos, links to websites, and comments are regularly circulated via social media not only depicting illegal conduct, but even providing instruction on how to engage in the criminal conduct. For example, teens are barraged with images of their schoolmates engaging in the underage consumption of alcohol and the use of illegal drugs as a common interaction on social media outlets such as Snapchat and Instagram. Snapchat allows the user to send out photos and videos (up to 10 seconds in length) that self-delete once opened and viewed by the receiver(s). The sender can set the image to briefly flash and delete in as little as 1 second. Teens are very creative and bold in sending these images which often depict nudity, drug use, etc. While they believe the images delete and are no longer available, the reality is that the troubling images are easily captured using various applications, such as Snapcapture, Snapsave, and Snaphack. Nothing sent via the Internet or through a cellular phone should ever be considered permanently deleted.

Each of the social media applications require the use of a valid email address to initiate and maintain an account and rely on a User ID and password to access. The most popular social media applications currently used by teens today are Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Vine, while Facebook has largely fallen out of favor with teens, since it is dominated by adults. While teens commonly maintain a Facebook account, they utilize the other outlets for peer interaction. In addition to social media applications, the use of YouTube is very common both to research questionable behaviors and to post videos of questionable behaviors. Parents will often demand to know who taught their teen about illegal drugs, when in fact the teen learned all they needed to no through very detailed YouTube videos that the teen researched and observed via the Internet while within their own homes. Literally, everything is available via the Internet and tends to make its way to teens through social media, so parents should work to stay informed as to what is influencing their teens.

Burglaries Drop Again in Lacey Township

By:  Chief David A. Paprota, Ed.D.

Crime is an unfortunate reality in every community. The crime that seems to draw the most public concern in Lacey Township tends to be home burglaries. This is for good reason, as the unlawful entry into a home causes a real sense of personal violation. While a vast majority of the reported home burglaries in Lacey Township ultimately are found to have been committed by family members, friends, or associates of the victim(s), there are some burglaries that are committed by strangers not known to the victim(s). Burglaries also tend to serve as a key indicator or measure of crime in a particular community. Both the state and federal government collect statistics related to incidents of residential and commercial burglaries for each municipality. Burglaries are closely tracked at all levels due to the recognition of the impact burglaries tend to have on victims.

In 2012, there were 122 burglaries reported and investigated in Lacey Township which was a high for the 10 years prior. During the 10 year period leading up to and through 2012, Lacey Township averaged 102 residential and commercial burglaries per year. It is important to note that the average number of burglaries committed in Lacey Township in the decade prior to 2012 was consistent with other municipalities in Ocean County given the comparative size and population of Lacey Township.

In 2013, recognizing this disturbing statistic, the Lacey Township Police Department implemented a multifaceted strategy to effectively reduce the number of residents victimized by the commission of home burglaries. The most notable tactic of the many employed involved setting each burglary incident as a priority for each and every department member 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One clear and obvious objective was to not allow a burglar to commit repeat offenses before being identified and arrested. The active involvement of the uniformed patrol force in burglary prevention and investigation as an “all in” approach was employed to lessen the likelihood of burglaries within the township. A strong focus on drug interdiction played a key part in the “all in” approach as well. Through proactive police work, field inquires by officers increased which led to a significant increase in the number of drug arrests and warrant arrests through both 2013 and 2014. As expected, many of the subjects being arrested through proactive police interdictions for drugs and outstanding warrants were also found to be committing the burglaries as well.

Ultimately the efforts by officers on the street were found to be very effective. Lacey Township experienced a profound reduction in burglaries during 2013 with a near 50% decrease to 65 burglaries from the previous year’s 122 burglaries. Such a large decrease, while welcomed, still needed to be viewed with cautious optimism as a possible one-year statistical anomaly. As 2014 has now come to a close, it is apparent the reduction in burglaries is not a one-year occurrence, as 2014 has now closed with another reduction to 63 burglaries. It is also worthy of note that of the 63 burglaries in 2014, a vast majority were committed by persons known to the victim with most being committed by a troubled family member.

Another significant tactic as part of the overall strategy was raising awareness and community involvement through the timely release of information regarding burglaries. While the regular reporting of burglaries through the weekly police blotter and social media may have been disconcerting for many to read, the public information resulted in an increase in the involvement of the general public in quickly solving the burglaries. Anonymous crime tips have become a regular source of valuable information leading the resolution of varying types of otherwise unsolved crimes. These tactics (and more) in the overall strategy have led to consecutive years (2013 &2014) with nearly a 50% reduction from the high of 122 burglaries in 2012. The proactive efforts of the officers and detectives of the Lacey Township Police Department will continue this year. A primary and lofty department goal in 2015 is to reduce burglaries for a third straight year.

RED Night Out

The Lacey Township Substance Abuse Task Force would like to invite you to attend their RED Night Out on Wednesday, February 11th at the Lacey Township High School.  RED Night Out is a community education program where we discuss the drug epidemic facing our community.  This evening will feature a live look at support groups, dynamic speakers who will share their stories, and an artistic memorial by Dance Force.  The Lacey Township Chief of Police, David Paprota will be featured with a new presentation titled, “Your Child and the Internet:  If You Only Knew”.  There will also be a community room where organizations and vendors will be answering questions and providing information to people seeking further resources.   There will be door prizes as well as incentives throughout the evening where you can win valuable items.  To make your night easier, on-site child care will be available, along with light refreshments and a homework pass for Lacey School Students who have a parent in attendance.  Come to RED Night Out and be part of the Solution!

Holiday Shopping Security Tips

01 - Chief David Paprota_ID Photo 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written By:  Chief David A. Paprota ED.D.

 

 

The holiday season is a special time of year which involves regular trips by many to the local malls. With the increased amount of shopping comes the increased concern regarding thefts of unsecured items in parking lots and from shopping carts. While most thefts tend to be crimes of opportunity committed in the moment by those who did not set out to steal, there are others who go to the shopping centers during the holiday season seeking out opportunities to steal valuable items. Whether it is from within cars in the parking lots or purses left unattended momentarily in shopping carts, those who set out to steal during the holiday season generally find no shortage of potential victims. The most common thefts come by way of cars left unsecured in parking lots with shopping bags of purchased items clearly visible from outside the vehicles.

The simplest of security measures can help a shopper avoid being a victim. First and foremost, vehicles should be locked when unattended for even the shortest of periods. Whether it is at a local store or a major mall elsewhere in the state, no items should be left in view from outside the vehicle. Shopping bags are very appealing to a potential thief. Items should be locked in the trunk or covered within the back of the vehicle so the bags are not visible. Visible shopping bags may also contribute to a thief’s willingness to break a window in the belief their extra effort will yield something valuable.

In the midst of the joyful holiday season, it may seem difficult to exercise increased caution while being cynical regarding the potential wrongdoing of others, but history has shown that some consciously make the effort to victimize others during this time of year. A little attention and even some subtle vigilance can keep a person from becoming a victim. For instance, when shopping, purses should be worn close to the body and not placed in shopping carts. Even if it is believed that the purse will not be out of view at any point, it only takes a moment for an experienced thief to walk away with the purse without the owner realizing the theft until the thief is safely away. If carrying the purse is too cumbersome, then when shopping, a smaller purse with limited contents should be carried to avoid having to place it in a shopping cart. Small security steps and extra awareness can essentially eliminate the likelihood of victimization. Furthermore, we can help each other during this season by advising store staff if someone is noticed acting suspiciously in either a parking lot or within the actual store. Again the simplest of steps and efforts can make the difference in reducing victimization during this holiday season.