Connecting with the people

The Palmyra Police Department set up a table during a recent farmers market gathering to open up a dialogue with locals and put a face to local law enforcement.

Officers Brian Stovall, left, and Alex Hubel of the Palmyra Police Department chat with a resident as they man their department’s information table at Palmyra’s weekly farmers market.

The Palmyra Police Department recently made a guest appearance at the local farmers market in Chief Peyton Flournoy Park where it set up a table to make itself available to residents for conversation, questions or just a friendly game of cornhole.

According to Police Chief Scott Pearlman, public events like the farmers market offer his department a unique opportunity to engage with the public they serve and perhaps be seen in a new light.

“The best part of this is not everybody gets to see us in a good light. (Residents) are usually calling us because they have a problem, sometimes they’re upset and that hurts our ability to communicate with them. They get to see us on a different level,” said Pearlman. “It’s a way for them to get to know the officers so when they see them on the street, or (police) come to their house, they have a little bit more familiarization with who’s coming.”

Officers Alex Hubel and Brian Stovall manned the table and acted as representatives for their department. Both were glad for the opportunity to engage with the public outside of an emergency scenario and hoped they could do their part in changing public perception of the police.

“People have this perception of the police that we’re all negative, that we’re here to lock you up or take you to jail, but that’s not what we’re about. More likely than not, if you’ve interacted with us it’s because we’re solving a problem for you,” said Hubel.

Hubel joined the department in 2014 after some time with the Burlington County Sheriff’s Department. His interest in law enforcement stemmed from his father, who has been an officer with the Moorestown Police Department for the last 27 years. 

According to Hubel, growing up with a public servant in the house was a formative experience for him.

“With public service as a whole, it’s generally a family thing. You grow up around it so it’s something you’re used to,” said Hubel.

Although he is a resident of nearby Cinnaminson, Hubel is quite fond of Palmyra and the direction that the department is heading.

“I love it here. I like the small-town feel and the town itself, everybody is very tight-knit,” said Hubel. “The department is going in a great direction, we’re probably at the top of technology within the county. We have wonderful equipment and our administration continues to provide us with that equipment.”

Stovall is fairly new to the department, having joined just one year ago this past May after holding part-time positions with the Moorestown and Collingswood departments. Despite being the new guy, Stovall has found a community with his fellow officers.

“We’re a smaller department, but everyone gets along, we’re all close-knit. We all enjoy what we do,” said Stovall. “It’s like a family here.”

For him, public service has always felt like a natural fit.

“I’ve always had a knack for trying to help people. I kind of look at it as trying to make the world a better place. We help people every day, it’s not always about locking people up, we go to overdoses, do CPR on people and try to save lives,” said Stovall.