From fishing to water ice, WTPD plans summer fun

Township police want to connect with the community this season through variety of events

Lailany Padilla shows off the sunny fish she caught as her father, Washington Township Police Officer Jose Ramos, takes it off the hook at the department’s ‘Cops and Bobbers’ fishing event on June 6. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun)

There’s a saying that goes “too many cooks spoil the broth,” meaning if too many people are involved in something it will go poorly. However, in the case of hosting summer activities for the Washington Township community, the phrase “the more the merrier,” is more fitting.

In a previous issue of The Sun, the parks and recreation department revealed its summer camp schedule. With that spirit, the Washington Township Police Department announced its summer activities list that has events for all ages, which plays right into Police Chief Pat Gurcsik’s goal of community care-taking.

“Community care-taking helps build up and strengthen the community,” Gurcsik said. “It also links up the police and community together. We are building a partnership, working together to achieve a common goal of a safer, better place to live. It’s a long term goal. It requires the active building of positive relationships with the members of our community, and summertime is the best time of the year to reach our residents.”

First up is the annual event known as “Cops and Bobbers” that takes place every Thursday in June from 6 to 8 p.m. at Veteran’s Park behind police headquarters on McClure Drive. Now in its third year, the free fishing program provides local youths with a place to learn the ropes of angling or to fish with the company of the township’s men and women in blue. Gurcsik said professional bass fisherman Mike Iaconelli donated 30 rods and reels for the occasion. In addition to fishing, all are welcome to enjoy a free barbecue at the events. There is no early registration required for this event.

On Mondays and Wednesdays from June 24 to July 17 residents over the age of 18 can register for the free Citizens Police Academy. This program will teach residents the ins and outs of the local police agency. From detective work, patrol work, crime scene investigation to emergency vehicle operation, the learning possibilities are seemingly endless. For registration, contact Sgt. Eric Caveng at ERCaveng@pd.twp.washington.nj.us.

On Wednesday June 26, the police department will host “Cool Off with a Cop,” from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Rita’s Water Ice on Egg Harbor Road. This event will give residents the chance to connect with police officers over water ice in an informal atmosphere.

One of the more popular events, according to Gurcsik, is the Junior Police Academy that runs from July 15 to 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is also the only program that has a registration fee that is $75 and covers insurance and uniform cost.

The suggested age for the Junior Police Academy is 11 to 14. The “recruits” will partake in a mock academy that includes starting the day with light physical training while learning different aspects of law, like meeting a superior court judge at the county courthouse in Woodbury, seeing a K-9 demonstration and witnessing a police helicopter landing at the high school.

“They’re the community leaders of tomorrow,” Gurcsik said. “We want to instill an appreciation and respect for law enforcement officers and their role in society. The response is usually very overwhelming. The kids love it, they love interacting with the police officers who are their daily instructors.”

To register for the Junior Police Academy, contact officer Gary Egizi at GGEgizi@pd.twp.washington.nj.us.

Next on the docket is the summer basketball camp thay is hosted by high school resource officers Tom DiTullio and Tony Leone. This free camp is offered from July 8 to 11 and July 15 to 18 and is intended for students in grades six to 12. For more information, contact Caveng at ERCaveng@pd.twp.washington.nj.us.

For the first time ever, the police department is recognizing “National Hot Dog Day,” July 17. From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., residents are welcome to visit the police department, located on McClure Drive, to enjoy a hot dog and all the accoutrements that go with them. Gurcsik added the agency will incorporate Alex’s Lemonade Stand as well.

Back in February, the police department celebrated Valentine’s Day at the Senior Citizen Center in town. O July 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., it will bring Christmas in July to the town’s seniors.

“Book It” is a series of readings done by police officers at the Margaret E. Heggan Free Public Library. On July 24, 31 and Aug. 7, 14 and 21, the officers will read story time books to children.

All of the police events culminate with National Night out, Aug. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Washington Lake Park.

“Traditional policing was strictly reactive and stat-driven,” Gurcsik said. “We’ve changed our mission and broadened our goals to include more community care-taking. By getting the community involved, our police have more resources available to help in crime prevention. We now have an increased police presence in our neighborhoods. We are building trust.”

For more information, contact the chief’s secretary, Cathy, at (856) 589-6664 or via email at CFiorile@pd.twp.washington.nj.us or Caveng at ERCaveng@pd.twp.washington.nj.us.