Barnegat Police Chief Sees How Policing Is Done in Scotland

Jul 24, 2019
Courtesy of: Barnegat Police Department Pat Schuber, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Mitch Sklar, Executive Director, NJSACOP; Chief Germain; Superintendent John Wyllie, Police Scotland

Barnegat, NJ — Barnegat Police Chief Keith Germain believes no matter what rank you attain in law enforcement, there’s always room for more learning. That was the idea behind a recent one-week trip to Scotland, where Germain joined a group of 19 other police chiefs from New Jersey to meet with officers and staff from Police Scotland. The excursion was sponsored by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.

“We got to tour Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee,” said Germain. “We stayed at the Scottish Police College, where their officers train. It was like living in a dorm, and they fed us breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Germain found out Police Scotland and Ocean County have at least one thing in common – an opioid crisis.

“We shared with them some of the measures we have taken, and they told us what they have done,” he said.

But he said there was one stark difference between the two agencies in that only 4 percent of the Scottish police force carry weapons.

“There are 60 times more guns in the United States than the entire population of Scotland, which is around 5 million,” said Germain. “We have more guns than people.”

He said that with so few armed officers, law enforcement authorities stress effective dialogue when approaching situations and confrontations.

“Learning how other police departments work is a part of my professional development,” Germain said. “You can’t expect of the agency if you can’t expect of yourself.”

Weather-wise, Germain said it was comfortable.

“Some places in Europe were going through a heat wave, but it didn’t get to where we were,” he said. “They were pleasant summer days.”

But no trip to Scotland would be complete without some haggis, a savory pudding containing sheep’s pluck, or internal organs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while encased in, traditionally, the animal’s stomach lining, or else in sausage casing.

How did it taste? “That was an interesting experience,” he said.

On the department’s Facebook page, Germain summed up his trip: “Through the candid exchange of successes, failures, strategies, and policing philosophies, we were able to gain valuable insights that will help us continue to innovate and improve the way we do things for our service population here at home.”

— Eric Englund

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