The West Windsor Police Department has completed a restructuring of personnel that saw the promotions and reassignments of seven officers to new positions.##M:[more]##
Under the realignment, approved by West Windsor Council and Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh in December, the position of captain and one sergeant’s position were eliminated in exchange for an increase in the number of lieutenants from two to four.
The restructuring does not add any dollars to the police budget. Previously, the department had one captain, two lieutenants and eight sergeants.
This month, the police department announced the promotions of Frank Caponi, Tim Courtney, Keith Hillman, and David Mansue to the position of lieutenant.
Promoted to sergeant were James Carvalho, Brian Melnick, and Richard VanPelt. Hired by the department to fill a position vacated through retirement was Officer Michael Bollentin.
Mansue, as the senior lieutenant with 26 years on the force, will be the department’s second in command, and act as commanding officer when Chief Joe Pica is away. Mansue will be in charge of the detective bureau, the juvenile unit, and the records department.
Mansue is a graduate of Mercer County College and Seton Hall University. During his first 17 years on the force, Mansue was a patrol officer and then worked in the detective bureau. In 1995 he was promoted to a patrol sergeant, and in 1998 he was made a detective sergeant.
A 24-year veteran of the department, Lieutenant Caponi will be responsible for oversight of two of the department’s four patrol squads. Caponi, a graduate of Trenton State College, worked as a patrol officer for seven years, and eight years in the traffic unit. He was promoted to patrol sergeant in 1997.
Lieutenant Courtney will oversee the two other patrol units. An officer with West Windsor since 1980, Courtney spent 16 years as a patrol officer before being promoted to sergeant in 1995.
Before being hired by West Windsor, Courtney served as a corrections officer at Trenton State Prison.
Lieutenant Hillman is charged with oversight of the traffic bureau, operations, training, and emergency tactical response. A graduate of Mercer County College and Seton Hall University, Hillman earned a master’s degree from Seton Hall University.
He joined the department in 1989 as a patrol officer and became one of the founding members of the department’s community policing unit in 1996. In 1999 he was promoted to sergeant and commanding officer of community policing.
Sergeant Carvalho returns to the road after spending the last 13 years in the detective bureau to supervise a squad in the patrol unit. A member of the force for 21 years, Carvalho spent his first eight years as a patrol officer. Before becoming a police officer, Carvalho worked as a teacher. He is a graduate of Trenton State College.
Hired in 1989, Sergeant Melnick worked as a patrol officer for 13 years before being transferred to the detective bureau in 2002. Melnick is a graduate of Rider University and earned a master’s degree from Seton Hall University.
Sergeant VanPelt, who will oversee a patrol squad, has been a member of the department since 1986 and has spent almost all of his time as a patrol officer. A graduate of Trenton State College, he holds a master’s degree from Rider University. VanPelt also served on the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force.
Officer Bollentin was hired by the department in 1999 as a part-time dispatcher and became a full-time dispatcher in 2000. He is currently working toward an associates degree at Mercer County College and is a member of the East Windsor Rescue Squad.
Chief Pica said he proposed the restructuring last year to the mayor and council and a way to allow for a more one-on-one contact between supervisors and the officers under their command.
Pica says that during a department-wide meeting last year the patrol officers said they wanted to have their supervisors working on the same days as they did. “A lot of times guys didn’t even get to see their lieutenants.”
After the meeting, the chief researched different ways of reorganizing the department’s supervisory structure. Several avenues opened after the retirements during the year of Captain Ken Hawthorne, Lieutenant Gene Swanheart, and Lieutenant Frank Coyle.
“Under the past system, lieutenants worked Monday through Friday, but patrol officers worked on weekends,” says Pica. “It seemed that as the department continues to get busier, we needed to expand weekend and evening supervision. Those days where everyone could go home at 5 in the evening on weekdays are over.
“My goal was that the lieutenant work the same days as the men they supervise, for at least pert of the shift. The mayor and council agreed with the plan to do away with the captain’s position and that gave us the ability to spread out supervision seven days a week.”