Last month, the seven-town Camden County Colonial Alliance issued a request for proposals (RFP) to explore the feasibility of consolidating its police leadership and administrative services.
Last Friday, the bids came in.
According to Haddonfield municipal clerk Deanna Bennett, three companies, one local to Haddonfield, bid on the job. They are:
- Matrix Consulting Group of Mountainview, CA
- Center for Government Research of Rochester, NY
- Ronin Security Solutions of Haddonfield, NJ
Matrix was the low bidder at $45,000; the Center for Government Research came in second at $98,000. Haddonfield's Ronin Security Solutions was by far the most expensive at $191,245.
When reached for comment, Ronin President Dennis Tully said that he understood that his company's bid "was significantly higher" than the others listed.
"I believe that cost represents a real-world analysis of everything that our municipal leaders will need to look at coming from people with decades of experience with these types of issues and a scope of services," he said.
Folded into the bid from Ronin, Tully said, are the services of accounting firm ParenteBeard, which he said employs principals who reside in the area, as well as the law firm Earp Cohn, of which former Haddonfield borough commissioner Edward Borden is a shareholder.
Tully said that if Ronin's bid is accepted, Borden would recuse himself from the work.
"I think that we understand entirely the concerns of not only our municipal leaders but the police themselves and the residents of these towns," Tully said.
"In our group, almost everyone lives in one of those towns or has lived in one of those towns, and we represent four of the six towns."
The stated goal of the request for proposals is “increasing law enforcement administrative efficiency without interfering with overriding public safety concerns, while reducing redundancy of services amongst agencies.”
It is not meant "to combine police departments,” Collingswood Mayor James Maley said at the July 2013 meeting of the Collingswood borough commissioners, when the study was announced.
In the time since the study was issued, Colonial Alliance member community Haddon Heights already has withdrawn from it. But Haddon Heights Mayor Edward Forte said that doesn't preclude his community from signing on to any arrangement approved by the Alliance in the future.
"It's the other six towns left on the RFP, and if they decide to do this, it's only going to be two towns to start, maybe," Forte guessed. "At any point, if we wanted to jump in, we could."
The subject of police consolidation has been a touchy one around the region: Patch message boards heated up when a draft of the document was leaked in May.
Whichever consultancy is chosen, the final document is subject to a public review and two public comment periods at which the winning bidders will discuss, among other things, the possible costs of enacting such a plan.
The RFP calls for a four-month timeline for the completion of the study from the date any contract is awarded.