Township police partner with local school group for outing

Event hopes to foster relationship between community and law enforcement.

For the third straight year, the Cherry Hill Police Department will invite township residents, particularly young children, to Run with Us, Not Away From Us, part of its ongoing efforts at greater community outreach. 

The Warrior Run will take place on Saturday, April 17, at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, with members of the department as well as those from Project Little Warriors hosting in a 5K run and 1-mile walk.  .

“The slogan was created several years ago as a campaign to involve the community in various events where they could interact with the department,” said Det. John Ostermueller. “We like to use as many tools as we can to generate goodwill and public trust, and this is one of them.” 

Project Little Warriors is a nonprofit that seeks to bring mindfulness and self-love to the younger generation by way of yoga and fitness. The organization has recently partnered with Cherry Hill High School West for its groundbreaking Restorative Practice Program, a framework of discipline primarily involving minority students  that aims to restore relationships with school administrators and present effective models for behavior beyond high school.

Ostermueller said he didn’t think an event of this scope would ever be a fill-in for the much larger National Night Out — cancelled last summer due to COVID concerns — but should be regarded in its own right. 

“I don’t think anything’s ever going to be a replacement for National Night Out, which is our biggest community undertaking, but our partnership with PLW is just a natural fit with our community outreach efforts,” he noted. 

The event will follow all current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, with proper precautions to ensure the safety of all participants. There will be plenty of space for everyone to be socially distanced prior to start time and during the award ceremony.

If unable to properly socially distance, all individuals are asked to wear a mask during that time. To accommodate that, groups of runners and walkers will have a staggered start spread across a period of 15 or 30 minutes, capping each window at a certain number of participants to keep large groups at a minimum. There will also be sanitary stations throughout for extra safety. 

Ostermueller believes there will be enough support, even at a time when people may not be raring to mingle with larger groups just yet.

“I think you’ll see a nice turnout,” he offered. “I don’t know if everyone is ready to get outside, but the avid runners will show, and people close to the program will come out. And we hope that the public will show their support.”

To register for the run/walk, visit https://runsignup.com/…/Pennsauken/WarriorRun5k1milewalk.

Check-in begins at 9 a.m.; the race will commence at 10 a.m. 

Participants should leave enough time to register, check in and pick up a bib and T-shirt before start time.