With an Aug. 17 filing deadline for ballot questions looming, Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders members David L. Ganz (D-Fair Lawn) and Joan Voss (D-Fort Lee) renewed their call Wednesday for a public referendum on police consolidation.
The two Democrats urged board chairman John Mitchell, a Cliffside Park Republican, to place a resolution on the freeholder calendar that if approved would put the question of whether the County Police and Sheriff’s departments should merge before voters in November.
“We want to give the people the right to participate in this important decision about the future of law enforcement in Bergen County,” Ganz said in a statement, while Voss said she hasn’t yet decided whether a merger is called for, a sentiment Ganz has echoed recently.
“But I want to give the people the chance to participate before I finally make up my mind,” Voss said.
The two freeholders said they sent a letter making the request, along with a draft resolution, to Mitchell, and emphasized that if there is going to be a referendum on the matter, it has to be filed with the County Clerk’s Office by 10 a.m. on Aug. 17.
Their proposed ballot question reads as follows:
Should The Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders pass an ordinance removing the Division of the County Police Department as a division in the Department of Public Safety transferring the functions, powers, duties and responsibilities of the Division of the County Police to the Office of the Bergen County Sheriff.
Mitchell called the two freeholders’ demand for a referendum on the matter “premature” with the board currently holding public hearings on consolidation options, NJ.com reported.
Meanwhile Bergen County Clerk John Hogan issued an “advisory” Wednesday as an “informational courtesy” reminding the county and municipalities of the Aug. 17 deadline.
“There have been several unconfirmed reports that a public question was being contemplated to be placed on the ballot by either the Freeholder Board or in some cases, by a municipality,” Hogan said. “The law sets a cutoff date to allow time for any legal actions dealing with questions prior to their being placed on the ballot and to allow sufficient time to clear the legal wording of the proposed question and the printing of the ballots.”
The Republican-controlled Board of Chosen Freeholders did not vote on the issue at a meeting earlier this month, NorthJersey.com reported.
The board’s next public hearing on two “conflicting” consolidation studies is Monday, according to the NJ.com report.