Mayor’s Column: Voorhees receives new public safety elements

The measures include police body cameras and the extension of free Saving Lives designated driver program.

The most important role of the Voorhees Township Committee is to keep our families safe. Public safety is a team effort between local government, our first responders and our residents.

To protect our most valuable asset, our children, we have partnered with our local schools to have a police officer in every school during the entire school day. The presence of these officers also gives peace of mind to our students, faculty and parents.

In 2015, in an effort to reduce the incidence of drunk driving, we established the “Voorhees Saves Lives Program.” We have partnered with Evesham Township to provide free Uber rides home from any restaurant/bar in either Voorhees or Evesham. The rides are available from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and the program is funded through private contributions. Simply open the Uber App to see a “Safe Ride” option on the bottom of the screen. Since the inception of the program, DWI arrests in Voorhees and Evesham have dropped significantly.

For the protection of our residents and our police officers, every Voorhees Township Police Officer is now equipped with a body camera.

Voorhees has a “Safe Exchange Zone” at our police headquarters which is monitored 24 hours a day to protect our residents who wish to engage in online transaction sites such as Craigslist.

A “NextDoor App” allows residents to sign up and share information concerning their neighborhood via the internet, similar to a community bulletin board. Neighbors can post parties, items for sale, lost or found animals and ways to help neighbors in need. Through a privacy filter, the police monitor topics being discussed on NextDoor. You can sign up for the free site at www.nextdoor.com.

For too many people, drug addiction begins in the medicine cabinet. Our police department is participating in “Project Medicine Drop,” which provides the opportunity for residents to discard unused prescription medication in a safe, convenient and anonymous manner. The police station lobby has a drop box available 24 hours a day.

We have also introduced the “DNA Home Asset Marking Program” to enhance home security. Residents and homeowners can mark their valuables and vehicles with this florescent liquid that is easily identifiable by law enforcement under an ultraviolet light. The program provides a simple and cost-effective way for residents to deter crime and protect property. Any residents interested in the program can contact Voorhees Police Investigator Robert Scappichio at bscappichio@vtpd.com.

Voorhees was the first municipality in New Jersey to use Nixle, which permits immediate communication with residents about emergencies or community events. The vehicle will provide immediate communication by way of email or text. To register for Nixle, visit www.nixle.com.

We have also partnered with Camden County to participate in the state’s first county-wide Smart911 system to save critical time in emergency situations. Smart911 is a free service that allows users to create a safety profile which provides vital information to emergency dispatchers and first responders during an emergency. Smart911 is private and secure and used only for emergency responses. To register, visit www.camdencounty.com.

Crime prevention is the anticipation, recognition and appraisal of a crime risk and taking action to remove or reduce the risk. If you see a crime or suspicious activity in progress, dial 911. Also, if you have information about a crime, call the Voorhees Township Police Department’s Anonymous Crime Tip Line at (856) 627–7174.

We have also initiated a “Safecam Program,” allowing the police to view residential and commercial security cameras to help solve crimes. Our police ask residents, businesses and organizations that have security cameras to complete a short registration form which allows our police to maintain a database of active cameras in the event a crime occurs in your area. The registration does not give police access to your camera system. Participating properties will receive a decal with the official Voorhees Police Safe Cam Logo to display as an additional deterrent from crime. The registration form is on the Voorhees Police webpage, www.vtpd.com.

Our residents, organizations or business owners can request a security survey of their property to aid in crime risk reduction. To schedule a security survey or to have your home checked by our police while you are on vacation, contact Lt. Bill Walsh at (856) 882–1104 or via email at wwalsh@vtpd.com.

Our Police Department established both the Junior Police Academy and the Adult Police Academy to educate residents about the life of a police officer and to enhance mutual respect between our community and our women and men in blue.

Our Police Department established the LEAD Program to educate our middle schoolers about the dangers of drug use. A similar program called “Steered Straight” lets recovering addicts share information about drug addiction.

The Township Committee will continue to work hard to keep our families safe. Please join in this partnership.

In other news:

  • The Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation will hold its 15th Annual Birthday Bash on Friday, Oct. 27 from 6:30 p.m. until midnight at Lucien’s Manor in Berlin. The Foundation furnishes Teen Lounges in hospitals to enhance the quality of life for teens with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Tickets are $150. For more information, call (856) 784–0615 or visit info@arvf.org.
  • The Animal Welfare Association (AWA) is hosting “Howl-o-ween Trunk or Treat”, on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the AWA located at 509 Centennial Blvd. This free event is for kids and their (leashed well-behaved) dogs. There will be candy for kids and treats for dogs, including allergen free candy. “Howl-o-ween Trunk or Treat” will also include a costume contest for kids and dogs.