Township police grants bolster the department

Some money will help officers with holiday DUI enforcement

The township police department got $10,500 in state funds for the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over national campaign to crack down on drunk driving. The funds will be used to apprehend violators during the holidays.

The township police department recently received multiple grants to help keep the community and its officers safe. 

This month, the department got $10,000 in a state Emergency Management Agency Assistance grant through the county Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for the second consecutive year. The grant is distributed through the federal Department of Homeland Security.

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“We are excited to learn we received this grant,” said Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik. “I am constantly looking for funding sources and grant opportunities for Washington Township and our police department.” 

The grant will help the department build, sustain and improve its capability to respond to and recover from disasters or acts of terrorism. The money can be used for training, software and equipment.

To get the funds, the police department worked with the county OEM on a questionnaire in April and participated in classes, exercises and drills that helped its staff meet the correct criteria. Gurcsik explained that he had to achieve certain certifications, along with his deputy of emergency management and coordinators.  

To further its knowledge of emergency management, the department will participate in a county-sponsored seminar in Atlantic City for emergency management responders. The five-day program will offer accredited classes through FEMA to help the department stay updated on its certifications. 

“I am the emergency management coordinator in Washington Township, so it is my responsibility,along with my team, to work together to protect the Washington Township community,” Gurcsik explained. “We were only one of seven agencies in the county to receive this subaward grant.”

The department also received $10,500 in funds for the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over  national campaign to crack down on drunk driving. The specific grant will be used to apprehend violators through Jan. 1.

According to a post on the township Facebook page, the state has experienced more than 33,000 alcohol-related crashes in the last five years, resulting in 662 fatalities. Last year, 23 percent of all motor-vehicle fatalities in the state were alcohol related. Nationally, 11,654 people died in 2020 from drunk-driving crashes, a burden that has cost the nation an  estimated $44 billion annually.

“This is the most money we have ever received,” said Gurcsik. “It is critical for law enforcement because we can help save lives during the time of social gatherings where alcohol levels increase … 

“There is no reason these days to get a DWI arrest with ride share apps like Uber.”

The $10,500 grant will help pay for officers on roaming patrols in the township from 11 p.m. through 3 a.m. on weekdays and weekend nights. According to Gurcsik, the money is the most the department has received in a Drive Sober grant and is a result of the police department’s commitment to arresting drunk drivers and the number of township  drunk-driving accidents. 

To further help the impaired-driving effort, the department and the municipality offer the Washington Township Saves Lives program year round. It offers a free Uber ride from any establishment in the township that serves alcohol to a residence between the hours of 9 p.m. to 2 a.m..

“I just got a report from Uber with the number of uses from November, and there are still plenty of funds in the program,” said Gurcsik.

Just in time for the holiday, the police department received a $4,000 grant from Walmart to host its  annual Shop with a Cop event on Dec. 15. More than 20 kids from the community will have dinner at the local senior center, then shop for gifts at the store from 6 to 9 p.m. with an officer. Santa will also make an appearance.

For more information about grants and events, visit the township police website at  https://www.twp.washington.nj.us/departments/police/index.php.

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