Police defend delayed response to burglary call

New law could increase the number of troopers covering the area


Staff Writer

MILLSTONE — State police have made the recent rash of burglaries in town a top priority.

Last month, at least six homes in the Indian Path subdivision were ransacked and burglarized during daylight hours.

Slow police response times in some of the cases have concerned neighbors, but police can only act on the information they are given, according to state Police Lt. Kathleen Devlin, Hamilton Station.

The majority of the calls came into the state police through the Monmouth County dispatch, Devlin said.

Former township Mayor Evan Maltz, whose home was also burglarized, had stated that a neighbor had walked in on the burglary in her home while the intruders were going through her belongings. She then went to a neighbor’s house to call police, she told Maltz, but it took them almost an hour to arrive.

The woman’s account of the incident concerned Devlin, who said solving the burglaries and increasing safety to those in Millstone is “at the moment our No. 1


Devlin confirmed that one response time was 55 minutes, though she added that two response times were two minutes or shorter, and another was 14 minutes.

The call from the neighbor with the 55-minute response came into the state police through the county dispatch as if the burglars had already left the home, according to Devlin.

“I listened to the tape myself,” Devlin said. “Our state police dispatcher asked the Monmouth County dispatcher, ‘Is this a burglary in progress?,’ and the answer was no.”

Devlin is not sure, however, if the county dispatcher was mistaken or if the information was given incorrectly.

Efforts to reach the burglary victim for clarification failed.

Devlin said that a priority is given to every call, and that accidents and medical emergencies come before a burglary if the burglars are no longer on the premises.

“We had three traffic accidents and two medical assists that someone had to go to,” she said.

According to Devlin, the Hamilton Station troopers cover Millstone, Roosevelt, Upper Freehold, Rocky Hill, and sections of interstates 95, 295 and 195 and routes 129 and 29, as well as the tunnel in Trenton.

State police coverage is provided to towns such as Millstone at no cost to the municipality, according to Business Administrator James Pickering.

Maltz stated at a recent Township Committee meeting that he believes the state police “are spread very thin.”

“There is a sense of urgency now,” he said.

He and others in the neighborhood are hoping to convince officials to set up an interlocal agreement for police services with neighboring Manalapan or Monroe Township in Middlesex County.

The Indian Path subdivision and surrounding neighborhoods are in a triangular section north of Route 33, bordered along the western side by Monroe and along the eastern side by Manalapan.

Though Maltz said he is happy with the recent presence of state troopers in the area, he believes there is an inherent problem with the 911 system.

Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey signed a bill Monday appropriating an additional $5 million to hire 100 more state troopers than originally planned and to help complete an upgrade of the emergency communication system, according to a press release.

There will be a total of 400 more troopers hired because of the legislation, which is geared more toward increased homeland security than everyday needs.

The release said there are just 2,609 state troopers today, fewer than the 2,694 in 1995.

To improve response in the meantime, Devlin said people making emergency calls need to be specific about what they see and where they are. They also must tell the dispatcher exactly where they live, as their street address may be different than their post office address.

Houses need to be marked well, she added.

Also, for those who have security alarm systems, Devlin said, make sure that the alarm company has accurate directions to give police.

She said that the state police frequently get calls from alarm companies and that “90 percent [of those calls] are false alarms.”