Less than a month on the job, Hightstown’s new police director said he plans to take a more proactive approach toward policing in town, and wants there to be more community policing.
“Where some people might see problems or concerns, I see opportunities,” Police Director James Le Tellier said.
Le Tellier told Patch that, this year, he wants to reach out to different types of community groups in town, from schools and religious groups, to civic organizations, and build partnerships.
“Through community policing, with more involvement from the community, we want to address not just the crime, and hopefully reduce the fear of crime, but you can also take preventative measures and prevent crime from happening and improve the quality of life for all the residents,” Le Tellier said.
Preventative measures could include neighborhood watch programs and educating the public on keeping safe, such as locking cars and securing homes and businesses, Le Tellier said, noting people who have been victimized once are statistically more likely to be a victim of another crime.
“I believe Hightstown has a great mixture of demographics here so I think it’s the right town for that type of program,” Le Tellier said.
While managing the day-to-day operations of the Police Department, Le Tellier said he will be helping finish the transition from Hurricane Irene and wants to get the department up and running where it should be, which will include making sure there is adequate staffing and people are in the right positions.
“We’re going to look to make sure we have the proper amount of staffing for the community because public safety is paramount,” Le Tellier said. “I’ve so far been very impressed with how open and professional the members of the department have been towards me and I see a positive working relationship.”
He said he is also aware of residents' concerns and will be available if anyone wants to meet with him.
“I’m new in town but I’m familiar with the town. For those people who are concerned I’ll probably be more here than I will be in my own community,” Le Tellier said. “I’ll be in town at night, I’ll be attending township meetings and I am open to meet with residents or any organization of the community.”
Although Le Tellier has a background in law enforcement he said he does not see being in a civilian director position as a challenge because he understands the separation of the authority of each position.
His job will include overseeing the day-to-day operations, but he does not have police powers.
Le Tellier, a Forked River resident, comes to Hightstown with more than 25 years of law enforcement experience and more than 35 years experience emergency services, including fire, first aid and under water rescue and recovery.
In 2005, he retired from Lacey Township Police Department, where he served as a lieutenant and division commander over the course of eight years. Le Tellier grew up in Newark and graduated from the State Police Academy in 1980, then worked his way up through the ranks in the Lacey Police Department.
He was an instructor at the New Jersey Regional Community Policing Institute and the Ocean County Police Academy, was a training coordinator for the Lacey Township Police Department and is a certified public manager through the state.
“I saw the ad, I did some research, I thought it was a perfect opportunity for a department that’s in transition to come in with my background and my skills and help transform it to proactive community policing,” Le Tellier said.