WOODBURY — The Gloucester County Prosecutor has directed police chiefs in the county to adopt a standardized practice to be used any time a police vehicle responds to a call, so as to “ensure the safety of all citizens, residents and police officers.”

Under the policy, once a patrol vehicle has been dispatched, the driver would be required to use emergency warning devices, namely sirens and flashing lights, if it exceeds the posted speed limit by 20 mph or more.

The review of response policies was launched following the death Dec. 28 of 11-year-old Matthew McCloskey, who was hit by a Franklin Township police car on Route 47 as it responded to a call for assistance. An autopsy and investigation determined the boy’s death was an accident, but that response policies should be reviewed and made uniform.

It was unclear whether Ptl. Nicholas Locilento had switched on his car’s lights and siren, but it was determined he was driving in excess of the road’s speed limit, according to authorities.

Police chiefs could add the required use of emergency warning devices at speeds less than 20 mph more than the speed limit if they choose.

Motor Vehicle Code N.J. S. 39:4-1 declares police and emergency vehicles are not exempt from speed limits, with some exceptions — while “engaged in the apprehension of violators of the law, or of persons charged with, or suspected of, a violation.” Even with this exemption, such drivers are not relieved of the duty to drive safely.

The new guidelines include three levels of priority for responses. “Priority 1 (Emergency Response) requires lights and sirens when proceeding to a location as quickly as safely possible, except when doing so would diminish the element of surprise that is desired when responding to certain types of crimes in progress. Emergency warning devices may be deactivated a reasonable distance from the scene (to be determined by the vehicle operator) so as to not alert subjects to law enforcement’s proximity.”

Priority 2 is a non-emergency response/routine response. “Personnel using a ‘Priority 2’ response will respond directly to the assignment without unreasonable delay. While en route, the vehicle’s lights and siren may be utilized when necessary.”

For Priority 3 general services/non-priority responses, personnel “will proceed to the call without unreasonable delay, but will be available to respond to calls of a more serious nature and to take other enforcement action that will not result in an untimely response.” Such a call will not require lights and siren and will be answered at normal traffic speed limits.

The guidelines also require departments to conduct a supervisory review of their motor vehicle responses no less than every 90 days.

The new guidelines are due to go into effect May 1.

Prosecutor Sean Dalton, in his letter to the police chiefs, said the review of response procedures was done with input from the executive board of the Gloucester County Police Chiefs Association, the Department of Criminal Justice and Gloucester County Emergency Services.