Voorhees mayor: No to countywide police force

There has been much discussion and media coverage recently about a study being conducted by the Camden County Freeholders regarding the formation of a countywide police department. While no formal plan has been shared by the county with local municipalities, the freeholders have made it clear that any participation by a municipality in a countywide police department would be voluntary.

Since some residents have expressed concern, it is important that our position be shared.

Mayor Dana Redd of Camden City has publicly announced that Camden City favors and will be joining the countywide police department. Neither I nor any other member of the Voorhees Township Committee would be in favor of joining any countywide police department that would abolish our local force and use Voorhees’ tax dollars to police other municipalities such as Camden City.

Voorhees has one of the finest police departments in New Jersey and the safety of our residents is our primary concern. Our officers are intimately familiar with our community, allowing them to more effectively serve and protect. Such local programs as DARE, Operation Identification, KIDZ ID, Vacation Property Check and Bicycle Safety promote crime awareness, crime prevention, and public safety. The Voorhees Police Department allows our residents to feel safe and protects our most valuable asset — our children.

Along with Deputy Mayor Mario DiNatale and Township Administrator Larry Spellman, I recently met with representatives of our police department to share this position. I also announced this position at the Township Committee public meeting on July 11.

Voorhees is currently involved in many shared services programs involving Cherry Hill, Gibbsboro, Gloucester Township, Merchantville, Collingswood, Winslow Township, Haddon Township, Somerdale and the County of Camden. We have monthly meetings with representatives of Cherry Hill and Evesham Township to explore other ways to share services. Such programs save significant taxpayer dollars and often allow local governments to operate more efficiently.

The Voorhees Township Committee owes a duty to our residents to find ways to operate our local government more efficiently. Sharing services with other municipalities, or even on a regional basis, are viable options if they make sense.

While a countywide police force might make sense for other local municipalities, Voorhees is not interested in any such plan that might compromise the safety of our police officers or our residents.

**Woofstock, the Voorhees Animal Orphanage’s biggest fundraising event of the year, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Connolly Park on Centennial Blvd. Rain date is Sept. 11. The event will feature festivities for animal lovers of all ages and their leashed pets. Crafters and venders are welcome. Admission is a $1 donation, but senior citizens and children under 12 are free. For more information about Woofstock or the Animal Orphanage, visit www.theanimalorphanage.org or call 856–627–9111.

**The 2011 Summer Twilight Series concludes with the Township’s Annual Movie Night in the Park on Saturday, Sept. 24 (rain date Saturday, Oct. 1). The students in the Voorhees Schools will vote on their favorite movie to be shown on the “big screen.” The event is free and begins at 7:30 p.m. at Connolly Park.