“We’re going to highlight some of the successes of the year and where we are going in 2021,” Chew said. “Even going forward, we’re going to touch base on some of the longer term goals for the organization.”
With a new term beginning and a year into the pandemic, Chew’s report broke down service calls, burglaries, and investment of training programs for officers. He pointed out that the decrease in uniform crime reports for 2020 was due to residents staying in during COVID, resulting in fewer police calls.
“Everything has decreased, with the exception of burglaries,” Chew noted. “We noticed during the pandemic, especially during the summer, we had a significant increase in unlocked car burglaries.”
Marlton police also saw an increase in commercial burglaries, including tires stolen from car dealerships, crimes the township never experienced before COVID, according to the chief.
The township had a 36-percent decrease in DWI incidents. In the last 11 years, Marlton had three DWI fatalities; from the mid-’90s to 2000, there were 10 a year.
“We all know how important this is to our community, that we spend so much effort identifying and detecting people that are driving while impaired, but at the same time, still creating preventive measures and educational opportunities to our residents,” Chew said.
The police department had 37 use-of-force incident reports in 2020, and 19 of them resulted from a change in mental health status, according to the report.
Mayor Jaclyn Veasy asked if the police have support from mental-health professionals and if the latter would accompany officers in certain situations.
“If somebody calls in the crisis hotline, the county will send a representative out in essence,” the chief responded. “Other times, it’s an emergency situation, such as, ‘My brother is cutting his wrist right now with a razor blade.’ We’ve had a lot of those calls.”
Chew confirmed that police would not wait for a mental-health professional on life-or-death calls. About 30 Marlton officers are trained in Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), a program that teaches first responders how to deal with mental-health situations. The department plans to continue the training until 100 percent of the department is certified.
As for the future, Evesham hopes to recruit more women officers and generate additional programs that involve the community and police.
“One of the biggest things that we talked about in 2020 (that) we didn’t achieve going to 2021 is our volunteers and police-service program,” Chew explained. “This is going to provide support resources for those individuals that are interested in developing commitment with our organization.”
The police department created an initiative called 30 by 30 that aims for a goal of at least 30 percent females in the Marlton department and at least 30 percent more on the department command staff.
Marlton police also had to stay up to date on the CDC’s pandemic guidelines in 2020, as well as those from the state.
“It was a very difficult year for our staff, for our members, for the community, coming up with rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and safety measures on the fly,” Chew reported. “There was no textbook or law enforcement to follow what the best practices were.”
The next Marlton council meeting will be held on May 26 at 7 p.m. For more information, go to https://evesham-nj.org/councilmtgvideos.