Everyone has seen enough cop dramas to know what a chief of police looks like. They’re bag eyed in poor suits with a tie at least half their age, tired from chasing around their non-conformist force. The coffee is never black enough and the antacids come in a Pez dispenser and the only thing kept in a flask is Pepto. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by a fresh and smiling Chief Krivda, newly sworn in chief for the Carneys Point Police department.
Several things hit me before we even sat down to meet. Krivda wasn’t in a shirt and tie. He looked decidedly professional in khaki’s and a long sleeve polo with a badge and his name embroidered on the chest. When I brought up my approval of his outfit, Chief made it quite clear that he was far more interested in filling the role than playing the roll. “I want my guys to know that I’m ready to go at any time. Suits and ties are great for meetings. I am here to support my team in every way I can.”
This sentiment rang through at the Chief’s swearing in ceremony and continued through our meeting today. “When I started, there were so many necessities that just hadn’t been addressed. Those have been my priorities. In just two and a half weeks, I’ve made a full contingency plan and have made a checklist of everything that needs attention now.”
The list isn’t short, nor is it cheap. Six of the current sixteen officers in Carneys Point (yes they’re understaffed at the moment but more on that later) are wearing expired ballistic vests. With a price tag of nearly $800 each, That’s $4,800 for job essential protection. As Krivda points out, “This isn’t Little House on the Prairie any more. We have a lot of violent crimes with three separate shooting incidents last year and domestic calls which are the worst because you never know what you are sending your team into.”
The department used to procure two new vehicles each year. That ended in 2008 and the first new vehicle was added in November of 2013. While the cruiser fleet limps along, Krivda has submitted plans to lease two new cars which will save a vast amount of money in direct purchase payments and current maintenance requirements.
As a shooting enthusiast, I asked the chief if the department was using Glock or Sig Sauer firearms. Krivda said, “Sig, but right there is another item on the list. The department purchased these over twenty years ago.” Even with discounted contract pricing through New Jersey, new firearms are upwards of $500 each.
“I have had to take a very serious look at budgeting and crunch a lot of information in the last few weeks,” Krivda states. “I found that 45% of our overtime money last year was spent between June and September. That’s just a huge amount of money.”
From the outside looking in, Krivda explained that the normal rotation for the Carneys Point Police Department consists of four shifts with three officers assigned to each. Given that most officers choose to use their vacation time in the summer, other officers have no choice but to put in the overtime to cover the gaps. As one can imagine, nicer weather translates into more people being active and in turn more crime. All of this hasn’t yet taken into account that the department went from 21 full time officers down to 16 at the time that Krivda was appointed.
Chief Krivda went over some figures and made the decision to nominate his two Specialists (basically officers in training) for full time status so that they could begin academy and start their roles as officers prior to the summer season. “They’re good candidates, and we could really use the man power. I have asked for them to be sworn in at the April 16th Township meeting.”
Krivda knows he has a full plate, but after meeting with him I am certain he also has a plan. His levelheadedness and open door policy will serve his team and the community well. “I’m very fortunate in that I trust my supervisors to do their jobs. I don’t have to micromanage. These guys have all heard it over and over and I’ll keep saying it. I’m here to help any way I can. If you want to be part of an open, effective department, you will always have my support.”
Hard decisions are a part of any leader’s job. One of Krivda’s greatest strengths is that he is willing to ask questions. “I’ll be the first one to tell you I don’t have the answer. I’ll get you the right one and confer with my staff and superiors, but I won’t just make a rash decision based on an assumption. I’d rather all of my team tell me they don’t know and look to learn in place of moving forward on something they don’t know.”
This attitude will do nothing but help everyone around him. The News of Salem County is glad to have the new Chief Krivda serving the community and we look forward to many years to come.