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County Police Show Off Underwater Robot as Debate Rages Over Future of Agency

Bergen County Police say the remote control evidence recovery robot is one of only a half dozen in the county and provides a valuable shared service that local municipalities likely couldn't afford on their own.

An underwater robot the size of a microwave has found its way into the crossfire of a divisive county-wide debate.

This week, the Bergen County Police Department’s Water Search and Recovery Unit showed off its new SeaBotix LBV-200-4 Mini ROV — a robot designed to assist the 15-person unit in underwater search and recovery.

During a demonstration at the lower lake of the in Mahwah this week, BCPD Sgt. Mark Tiedemann showcased the remote-control device, which sends a video feed from underwater to its operator on dry land.

County police conducted the demonstration in the long shadow of a debate over whether or not the county’s police department — and its specialty units like the WSAR — will continue to exist on their own or if they'll be absorbed by the county’s sheriff’s department.

For Tiedemann, the small robot is a representation of a big reason the merger shouldn’t happen. If the two departments are merged, he argued, many of the shared services offered by the BCPD would fall on individual municipalities.

“We are trained in evidence recovery … so, we know exactly what to do when we recover evidence, and we can testify in court about what we found and how we documented it,” he said. “[Municipal] fire department water rescue dive teams aren’t trained in that.”

A debate has been going back and forth amongst county government officials about whether or not to merge the BCPD with the county Sheriff’s Office since a suggesting the move as a money saving measure.

A judge ruled this week to , but allow for the freeholder board to continue with a proposed ordinance and public hearing on the merger.

Tiedemann said he feels mutual aid between local departments would not make up for potentially losing the county specialty units, such as the WSAR. “We have jurisdiction in the entire county and can operate completely on our own if we need to. Mutual aid can’t cover that,” he said.

When the , opponents argued the burden of special services would fall on local agencies.

However, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli issued a letter to police chiefs saying that had not been suggested. 

The proposed ordinance merging the two departments would transfer the specialty units operated by the BCPD to the sheriff’s office, but would not eliminate them, According to report on NorthJersey.com.

The freeholders may take up the issue again at their meeting this Tuesday. In the meanwhile, Tiedemann said the demonstration of the county’s new robot showcased a shared service the BCPD offers all county municipalities.

The robot, guided by trained BCPD members, uses video and sonar technology to locate objects underwater. It also has a grabber arm that can retrieve the objects it finds.

According to Tiedemann, the robot can help mostly with body, weapons and evidence search and recovery.

“We don’t really do rescue, that’s more of what a [local] fire department does,” he said. “Primarily, we search and recover bodies or evidence from crime scenes that has been tossed into bodies of water.” The unit also does infrastructure inspections “on things like bridges, or holes in ships,” he said.

The robot, which members of the WSAR unit were trained in using this July, will help by diving into waters that Tiedemann called “hazardous” for human divers.

The $107,000 device was purchased with Homeland Security funding, the county said, and is a rarity in the area. The new BCPD robot is one of only five held by police departments in the tri-state area — two are property of the NYPD, one of the FBI, and one was recently purchased by the Jersey City Police Department.

“It’s a great thing for us to have because of what we do,” Tiedemann said. “There are only five or six dive teams in the county. So we are called in to places all across Bergen County. This is an example of a shared service. Each municipality couldn’t afford to buy one of these robots. We are able to offer the technology to all of them.”

The WSAR unit typically responds to 12-15 calls a year, but “it depends on the year.” In 2011, he said the unit responded to 20-30 different calls during Hurricane Irene alone.

Until a decision is made, Tiedemann said specialty units will continue to operate under the BCPD. “I don’t think we’re going anywhere,” he said. “The dive team alone has been here for over 50 years, and we are always improving what we offer to municipalities and getting new equipment and things like that.”

Anonyamous September 11, 2012 at 07:37 AM
I thought this blog is about the need for BC Police Officers to be disband. I stated my personal reason and some experiences which were examples why I feel they need to be disband. Who appointed you God He is the Judge not you or cutter 07410. And right now the Judge in Bergen County wants to disband BC Police Depart. I gave many reasons why I agree what do you have to share beside calling people crazy. There is a saying everybody else but YOU
Anonyamous September 11, 2012 at 07:57 AM
Disagree share your personal story and here comes the nasty attacks, familiar pattern in NJ. Is it a NJ thing, a Police thing? Well at least Bill Mays is being objective and intelligence enough to discuss what this blog is about not ganging up on someone and attack them. MissS -I alway loved the saying everybody is crazy but you
Anonyamous September 11, 2012 at 08:07 AM
I think your being over analytical I type fast and usually doing something else at the time. I get the anger management and work related stressors, but identity disorder huh? Are you licensed to do you work because I already a licensed Therapist and she doesn't do analyzing blogs stuff
Anonyamous September 11, 2012 at 10:01 AM
Psychological Exams are given because it is a well known fact that many criminal minded people are attractived to becoming a Police Officer. The test is suppose to weed out the criminal minded ones so you don't have Police behaving like legal criminals. You all would be GREAT NJ Police Officers, banging together - blue code, psuedo therapist and ganging up and attacking and destroying anything that threathens your way of thinking. But the blog is about disband BC Police, do you have any intelligence argument concerning THAT ISSUE ? it doesn't take alot of intelligence to be a bully and hurl insults but it takes intelligence to be able OBJECTIVELY stick to the subject and focus on the topic apparently you have NOTHING WORTH WHILE TO SAY PERTAINING TO THE BC POLICE DISBANDING ? LIKE A BULLY OR CHILD WHO HITS YOU TO WIN BECAUSE HE LACKS THE INTELLIGENT TO SAY ANYTHING WORTHWHILE DISTRACTS FROM THE REAL ISSUE THAT HE IS INADQUATE AS A PERSON. Stop wasting your time attacking me and deal with the subject BC Police share your experiences, do you have any- probably not cutter 07410 because nobody cares if you existence but don't use me as a distraction. I am not impressed by coward bullies that hide on the internet Go join the Police Force.
Cutter07410 September 13, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I think they should merged with the Sheriff's Dept. Makes sense economically and no one loses any services if they just happen to wear different uniforms. There, that's my opinion. I don't have that many experiences with any police, because I pay my bills, take care of my kids and follow the law. In fact, I've somehow managed to get through 40 years without being arrested or getting more than a headlight out or parking tickets. Now I'm an internet bully? You get to "yell and scream" on here and say horrible things about police officers but I can't say what's on my mind about you? Sorry, I didn't realize the rules lol I understand that things happen that are beyond our control, but it seems a little hard to believe ALL of this is just some "conspiracy" against you..I know it must be hard to look at your life and accept that you screwed it up and it's easier to make someone else responsible for everything bad in your life. The human ego is a pretty powerful thing...
William Mays September 13, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Cutter, you can follow the law, and the cops can still screw you over.
Cutter07410 September 13, 2012 at 11:28 PM
And I think it's hilarious that you complain we're not "objectively sticking to the subject". You think they should be disbanded because the police have destroyed your life. That's not what I would call objective...maybe you should go look up the word. Go ahead, I'll wait....
Cutter07410 September 13, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Billy..."the cops?". Which cop? Or are you lumping all of them together because of one or even a bunch of cops you've dealt with? You're prob one of those people that think all african americans are criminals or all Jewish people are cheap..am I forgetting any other stereotypes you beleive in Billy?
Cutter07410 September 13, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Just use common sense..I'm not a cop, but it's pretty easy to see why people don't like them. They tell you what to do, and our country is all about "freedom". "I can do whatever I want" is our society's motto and when someone says no, we turn into the toddler throwing our tantrum because we're not getting our way. I would not want a cop's job in today's society. Risking your life for people that want to spit in your face for doing it..disgusting what our society has turned into.
William Mays September 13, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I'm actually Jewish, and I'm fine with every race. Most of the times I've dealt with cops in NJ, it has been unpleasant. I just don't see how these guys get paid 100k and sit around all day pulling people over when cops in NYC actually risk their lives, and get paid like 40k and can still be helpful and treat you fairly.
Cutter07410 September 13, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Hw did you guys sleep last night? Were you up worrying that people would break into your house?..bet you slept pretty well knowing help was only a 911 call away..
William Mays September 13, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I actually have a security system with cameras and a gun. I'm not saying that cops don't do their jobs, I'm just saying that they should remember who pays their salary.
William Mays September 13, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I don't care if a cop tells me what to do, I'd just like him to be polite.
Cutter07410 September 13, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Yeah Billy, because you know for an absolute fact that ALL police officers sit around all day and just pull people over. That's what I'm talking about, over simplifying and generalizing based on no real knowledge..that's what makes your argument sound ridiculous..do you even see that? Or are you just too stubborn to admit that I'm right about that point?
Cutter07410 September 13, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Again, ALL cops are not polite...I guess I'm the crazy one. Trying to use logic and common sense here against all this arrogance. "I was treated badly by a couple cops..they're all bad!" "My experiences are all that count" I guess people that have had good experiences don't matter and are wrong. It's almost sad and pathetic that your thought process is like that
William Mays September 13, 2012 at 11:50 PM
I've personally never had a good experience with an NJ cop except down in Cape May one time, so thats why I have this opinion.
Anonyamous September 14, 2012 at 01:34 AM
An inflated sense of self is really a sign of an insecure ego, you are a bully cutter 07410 now your moved on to bullying Mr. Mays because he doesn't share your views. We all have a right to disagree but you don't have a right to hurl personal attacks against someone because you don't like what they are saying. Everyone makes mistakes and if God forgave me no one has the right to haunt, harass and stalk me . Those tactics constitute destroying someone life. One thing about bullies they always rationalize that you someone deserve to be unfairly treated and never will be accountable for there actions.
William Mays September 14, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Yeah, I'm beginning to think that Cutter is a cop.
Anonyamous September 14, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Whether it is internet bullies, Police Bullies or Fmr Pres. "Bully" Bush didn't we a great lesson from the consequences being vindictive and arrogrant . Thousand young soliders died, our economy fell and 9/11 which he was warned numerous times but failed to take actions. destroyed many lives. Please don't try to blame Obama he was a Professor when this was happening. Great you have wonderful experiences with the NJ Police but because I have not you personal attack me ? But your not a bully? The BC Police that you love and adore is going to merged in Sheriff Dept so why are still going on attacking people and calling them names because they don't have this love affair with the NJ Police Dept.
William Mays September 14, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Bush wasn't a bully, he was just a dumbass.
Anonyamous September 14, 2012 at 02:36 AM
My brother was a Navy Capt. and fought in iraq. I remember when he first went enlisted in Navy. He was a artisy- college graduate type, played jazz in the village and acted in off broadway .. The first thing I said aren't are scared to go to war. He said we are the US states the most richest and powerful country in world, we will NEVER have a war. A far cry from what we use to be. Bush was indeed a dumbass but his lack diplomatic skills, tactics and hindsight is the reason we are no longer the most richest and powerful country in the world.
Cutter07410 September 14, 2012 at 05:08 AM
I don't love the BC police..and I'm "attacking" you only because your logic is crazy. OK, I'll take a leap of faith and agree that everything you say is true and the police did all of this horrible stuff. Does that mean you can say with such authority that ALL police are lazy, or rude, ordishonest. Even if you've dealt with 100 corrupt cops, there's still thousands and thousands of other cops in the state. It's just not fair to make such general statements about a whole group of people based on some of the group..that's all. No "bullying" just an honest logical assessment of your statements.
Cutter07410 September 14, 2012 at 06:27 AM
It's funny, this started out as an underwater camera article lol
Anonyamous September 14, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Clearly, if you had horrible experiences with a group it would make it hard to be objective. Which is why I went out on a limb and shared my experiences with them. Inspite of my horrible experiences with a very ORGANIZED corrupt group I still see the good in them. I have admitted in this blog that there are WONDERFUL NJ Police Officers, people that you can't help but like. Really it is not about my story or your experience. The point is how do you justified paying NJ 3X the salaries of NY Finest. When NYC is known for higher salaries. Then when you compare the demeanor and the level of risk of NY finest compared to NJ Police Officer there salaries don't make logical sense to me. I admit I am prejudice because in my short time I lived in NYC & visiting the city. My experience with NYC Finest is that THEY HAVE ALWAYS TREATED ME WITH RESPECT - Why they earned the name FINEST. Compared to NJ who seemed to have a great deal of FREE time on their hands to stalk and harass you with fabricated petty issues to justified their bullying.
jealous September 14, 2012 at 01:31 PM
ill admit it im jealous of bergen police officers and bergen county sheriffs. if i could hit the restart button on life i would definetly tried to become a bergen county policeman or kiss up to the sheriff so he can give me a cushy job. i spent all my money going to college and earning a degree in mechanical engineering. i have a steady job, work 50 hours a week with no overtime pay making around 50k a year. i compare myself to people i graduated with two are local town cops (whose fathers happen to work in the same department) and one who had no qualifications except being friends with the sheriff. one of the local cops makes 90k, very few people can make 90k in the private sector after only working 5 years. these people i graduated with will all be making 100k have great pension plans and be able to retire at a fairly young age. so yes i admit i am jealous of how good most of the public sector has it, and it bothers me that most of them seem to take it for granted and want more.
Just Facts September 14, 2012 at 01:48 PM
http://www.nypdrecruit.com/benefits-salary/overview NYC Police Make over 100k in 5.5 years.... get your facts straight.... Lifetime benefits....sick, and vacation time and retire in 20 years... If you think its so great try it "Jealous" also expected life span of a police officer is 66..... This is because while you sleep, cops work....when you party on holidays,,,, Cops work... So don't compare the job to a "normal' 9-5 business job... I have family members who are police officers and I appreciate what they do.... If you like the pay and think its so easy take the test!! NYC gives it every day... I attached the web site! go for it big mouth!
Anonyamous September 14, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I thought the Judge was attempting to disband th BC Police to resolve a wastage issue. One good thing about the war the wealthy became richer with a greater widening of the classes - the poor are now poorer. The Republican are fighting to Not have taxes raise on the most wealthy. Bergen County Property taxes are one of the highest in the country and I don't think we can afford to increase them. NJ Police quota writting tickets , DMV revenue -Insurance surcharges, etc. does appear to be enough to earn revenue for the state in this economy. Something is going to have to give .Have no fear 07410 cutter In a "Police State "I don't think it will be the NJ Police salaries, they rather cut the school system and teachers than touch NJ Police.
Just Facts September 14, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Anonymous - just an FYI... The school budget in Fair Lawn is aprox 86 MILLION DOLLARS. The police budget is 7.5 mil... So SCHOOL BUDGETS ARE GINORMOUS!! HUGE!! BIG!! so it might be easier to cut a HUGE piece of cake off a GIGANTIC cake. A smaller cake is harder to cut... IF you totally eliminated the Police in Fair Lawn your taxes might go down like 400 bucks - per household.. You cant compare .........
Anonyamous September 14, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Yes, I was not aware of the numbers your right when it comes to the school system. Pay the NJ Police 200K, if our budget could support that. But if your going to make a certain level of income and your job is to uphold the law, you need to have a certain level of standards and intergity, I am sorry I do not see this happening in NJ. I am far from being jealous I had a very beautiful house and lifestyle and 1 million dollars worth of assets until the Police became apart of my life. Actually I think they were jealous of me because I had it all ! Why in the world would I be jealous of them ?, rolex, mercedes benz, child in private school, the best of everything, now I am on welfare and have nothing. So let's not talk about jealousy
Anonyamous September 15, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Cutter 0710 FYI I just read article The secret of their success? How US leaders from JFK to Roosevelt and George Bush share Psychopathic traits. I have always known this I watch overachievers like my mother and brother and that same drive that makes them successful can also be a double sword .Like the saying goes everyone is crazy but you. However, in war it is import to understand the psychology of your opponent. Through our own arrogrance we fail to understand that there will be consciences to our actions. Kill Bin Laden, Bomb and kill their people, cause financial suffering and then while you at it why don't you desacrate their religion, yet we are shock when they retaliate against us. We owe how much to China because of our falllen economy and the cost of wars. Muslims are radical about there religions, they believe in being a martyer and dying for a cause. Why keep poking the tiger in the eye and when they react you call them crazy. Only a crazy person would keep antagonizing a tiger and not expect them to strike back. U.S may still be powerful but we are no longer the richest country in world.

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