The Monroe Township Police Department is not letting COVID-19 keep it from the annual initiatives the community looks forward to each year.
“With COVID-19, we started thinking outside the box a little bit,” said police Chief David Dailey.
The department spent time brainstorming ways to create a safe environment for the annual National Night Out. The event usually takes place the first Tuesday in August in townships across the country, but this year COVID kept towns from participating.
National Night Out began as an evening where residents would turn on their porch lights and hang out outside their homes while police officers rode around the neighborhood and visited residents to talk about community initiatives or issues.
The Monroe Police Department wants to bring that initiative closer to its roots. It will host the event on Oct. 6, beginning around 3 p.m. at Holiday City, where officers will announce what types of initiatives they are working on as well as a message from Mayor Richard DeLucia. Residents are asked to remain socially distant.
After a K9 demonstration, four groups with four officers each will place themselves at different areas of the community, including the Hunter and Willow Woods developments. Residents are encouraged to meet with the officers and hear about community initiatives or issues. The officers will keep large gatherings to a minimum; smaller groups will also facilitate more personalized interactions.
“These will be a question-and-answer period. Generally people complain about the speeding in the development,” Dailey said. “Sometimes people bring something to our attention that we are not aware of.”
At the end of the night, everyone is invited to gather and socially distance at Friendly Village. At 8 p.m., guests there will receive goody bags with masks, informational pamphlets and hand sanitizer pens while watching a second K9 demonstration.
“We want to give back to the community,” Dailey noted. “We are not having one spot with a big crowd. We will have all these events going on at once.”
The department will also welcome the Straight to Treatment program to the township in early October. Washington Township welcomed that initiative in August to help those struggling with addiction through the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s office. Monroe Township will kick off this initiative with the help of My Friend’s House and The City of Angels, both of which address addiction.
“We have had a lot of success and we hope to continue that,” Dailey insisted. “It’s a good program, and we are hoping it is successful, and we hope people take advantage of it to get the help that they need.”
Other initiatives from the department include the kickoff to its second annual fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, where hoodies and T-shirts are offered for sale, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to breast cancer research. Officers will also wear pink as part of their uniforms for all of October. The department has currently raised more than $1,200, out of its goal of $2,500.
“We want to be positive in our community and be involved in our community. We want to show our community that we care,” Dailey shared. “The idea is for women to go get checked, and if they see our officers supporting that or seeing a simple reminder to get a yearly checkup, it is all about engaging the community in a positive way.”
This year, the department has decided to hand deliver any orders it receives. Officers will pick up packages at the station and bring them to individual homes. According to Dailey, the department wanted to add a personal touch to the initiative during a time when people may need it most. The last day to order apparel will be Wednesday, Sept. 30.
The department also plans to participate in No-Shave November for the second consecutive year. This idea is to have men spend less money on shaving supplies and donate use money saved to prostate cancer research.