MADISON — Town police officers are now operating under the oversight of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office after a one-year contract between the town and county went into effect last week.

“I think it went really smoothly,” Town Manager Tim Curtis said Monday of the consolidation of departments effective on July 1. “All of our officers were deputized as county employees, and as of July 1, they were working for the county.”

The contract, signed by Curtis, Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster and Robert Dunphy, chairman of the Somerset County Commissioners, provides an outline of law enforcement coverage for a one-year period. Both Curtis and Lancaster said Monday that operations have gone well in the days since the contract went into effect.

The move was originally presented as a cost-saving measure by town officials and was approved by residents at the annual town meeting last month.

The new contract, by which the old Madison Police Department will operate as a division of the sheriff’s office, states that the sheriff will provide five full-time deputies and one assistant executive secretary and that the deputies will be responsible for enforcing Madison town ordinances as well as state statutes. The town will also pay $480,728 to the county to pay for operations and oversight.

In addition to maintaining an office in Madison and 24-hour policing, the sheriff’s office will also provide additional resources to the town in traffic crash investigations and reconstruction, officer training, crime scene investigations and use of police dogs, according to the contract.

It also states that all deputies assigned to Madison are to remain within the town during regularly assigned patrol shifts. In the event of an emergency outside of Madison, deputies will respond in a similar way that police departments assist under mutual aid agreements, according to the contract.

Curtis said Monday that he hadn’t heard any complaints about officers in Madison leaving the town since the consolidation, although it was a concern among many residents during early discussions of a consolidation.

“There hasn’t been anything that I’m aware of requiring mutual aid,” Curtis said. “All their patrols have been in Madison.”

The town is responsible for providing marked patrol vehicles, although the sheriff’s office is responsible for maintenance and will work with the town on replacing vehicles. As part of the planned consolidation, Madison deputies will also begin wearing different uniforms, and two of the town’s three police cruisers will be re-lettered to read, “Somerset County Sheriff’s Office — Madison Division.” Those changes have yet to take place, but the uniforms have been ordered and the cruisers will be re-painted when funds are available, Curtis said.

Madison deputies will not have to undergo additional training, although reserve deputies who were employed by the former Madison Police Department will have to re-apply for their jobs, Lancaster said. He said one reserve deputy has been re-hired, and the county is interviewing another reserve deputy this week.

Every month the sheriff will provide the town manager with a summary of calls for service and a summary of moving traffic stops, including warnings and summons issued.

The contract also includes a plan for handling any disputes between the county and town through the appointment of an arbitration panel made up of a representative from the town, a representative from the county and an outside representative.

The total cost for the one-year contract is $480,728 and is to be paid in monthly payments of $40,060 to the county, with the first payment due by July 15. Subsequent payments are due on the first day of each month.

There are no provisions for renewing the contract in the agreement, but that discussion would take place during the regular budget season and would involve the Madison Board of Selectmen and town budget committee, Lancaster said.

“It’s a new concept for the citizens of Madison and a new concept (at the sheriff’s office),” he said. “I think they’re waiting to see how it works.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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