In recognition of close conditions during the ongoing pandemic that have increased instances of partner and spouse abuse, Haddonfield’s board of commissioners formally recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The move occurred at the governing body’s Sept. 27 virtual public meeting. As the borough has done for the past several years, recognition arrived through a proclamation that urges all residents to take an active role in various activities and programs deemed necessary to comfort victims, improve safety and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
“It’s intended to draw attention to the problems that come with, and cause, domestic violence in our communities,” noted Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich.
Bezich further attested to the importance of taking action, which she does through her work in the borough as well as in facilities like the Anna Semple House in Camden that she and Police Chief Jason Cutler have previously visited.
“It is endemic of the pandemic that domestic violence rates have skyrocketed, and it’s not something to take lightly,” she continued. “Unfortunately, it’s been on the rise with people stuck at home and people unable to access financial means to leave situations like that which are not healthy for them.”
Cutler called the board’s recognition of domestic violence an important step, because that kind of abuse happens in every community.
“We’re not immune to it,” he said. “In fact, you are correct that our numbers of domestic violence (cases) actually went up during the pandemic, because everyone’s in close quarters, so it does lead to higher numbers.”
Bezich highlighted the importance of noting that when public-safety officials work with people in crisis, it’s a sobering reminder that the issue still exists, and the pandemic has played a significant role.
Continuing a theme of public safety at the commissioners’ meeting, Cutler urged residents to use more care, caution, vigilance and common sense when operating and parking vehicles around town. He revealed two reports of vehicle thefts within the past two weeks, both coming as a result of the drivers leaving their keys in the ignition with the doors unlocked.
In addition, there were two more reports of thefts from vehicles where perpetrators broke in and stole various items, including loose change.
“I’d like to remind everyone again when you leave your car, take all your valuables, make sure you take the keys and especially lock your doors,” Cutler warned.
In other news:
- A second proclamation declared Oct. 17-31 National Friends of the Library Weeks, a move accepted by organization co-President Katharine Koob.
- Commissioners approved a motion to insert up to $2,500 into the 2021 budget from the Cross County Connection Management Association’s Transportation Demand Management reimbursement program for calendar year 2021. The borough plans to use the funds for traffic calming and pedestrian safety, particularly on Grove Street, to facilitate safe walking to and from Tatem Elementary School.
- The governing body also passed a resolution to re-advertise for sealed bids regarding temporary labor services surrounding seasonal work at the Department of Public Works. No bids were received after commissioners authorized the advertisement of those bids during their July 20 meeting.
- Borough governance also passed a resolution for a speed bump/speed hump policy that was initially discussed at its Sept. 13 work session. More on the issue will be reported in the next edition of the Sun.