Lower Saucon Township Council Wednesday night awarded a $34,000 contract to a Worcester, Mass.-based consulting firm to conduct an organizational and staffing assessment of the township's police department -- with specific attention being paid to its operations and procedures.

Following some discussion on the four proposals the township received with regard to the project, council decided on Matrix Consulting Group, which has offices throughout the country and is headquartered in New England.

The four proposals ranged from $37,500 to $73,000.

Council said it decided on Matrix because the firm has police department study experience with municipalities similar to Lower Saucon. They also said they were impressed that the Matrix proposal identifies problems and provides solutions.

Township Manager Leslie Huhn said Matrix conducted a similar police department study in Carlisle and a municipal-wide effort in Mt. Lebanon.

She said the scope of the Lower Saucon assessment would include: a review of the police department's staffing numbers; its expenses; its management and organizational structure; any operational gaps; and how it is perceived by the township’s staff and citizens.

A similar study was conducted in the township in 2003 and cost Lower Saucon nothing as it was done through a grant from the state's Department of Community and Economic Development, Huhn said.

Councilwoman Donna Louder said the study is not being conducted in an effort to cut any police jobs, but to make the department more efficient and cost-effective.

Lower Saucon Chief of Police Guy Lesser said he favors the study and is open to any critique of his department. He said he welcomes any suggestions and recommendations.