Mayor’s Column: Voorhees Township’s public safety measures

Mayor Mignogna discuses the town’s extensive protocols and procedures in keeping the community safe.

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. The Voorhees Township Police Department also conducted a school safety forum on Feb. 26 to discuss safety initiatives with our residents.

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.

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.

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 “Next Door” app allows residents to sign up and share information concerning their neighborhood via the Internet, which is 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.

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