“Our goal is mainly to hear from residents about what’s on their mind, and answer questions that they may have as best we can,” Gillespie said.
A police representative also joined the session.
“We wanted them (residents) to feel like they could get to know members of our police department, see them as members of the community, and know that they are looking out for their best interests and are willing to listen to what’s on their minds,” Gillespie noted.
Besides public safety, Gillespie and Law also wanted to address two other issues of concern to residents: traffic and speeding.
“Those are two big issues …” the mayor said. “We answer people’s concerns on a one-to-one basis when they reach out to us, but there may be people who haven’t done that but still have questions or concerns.”
Law explained how feedback from the session will help township council identify common themes and trends as it develops policies and policing strategies.
“That’s why I feel that it’s important to have a representative from the police department in the room, so they can take some of that feedback and apply it directly to preventing crime in our community,” he noted.
Law is hopeful that people who attended the session will feel their concerns are being heard and addressed in an inclusive and transparent manner.
“I want people to know what’s happening in their community, and I believe that every Moorestonian has the right to feel safe in their home,” he pointed out.
“ … I want to make sure that we are transparent, that we’re trying to do everything we can.”
Law believes council’s listening sessions help people learn more about what’s going on in their neighborhood.
“ … We come together,” he said. “We can cut through misinformation, look at the facts, and folks leave the conversation with a much better understanding of what issues are happening in the community.”
“My favorite aspect of listening sessions is the aspect of us all leaving somewhat on the same page.”
According to Law, council recently passed an ordinance that not only gives Township Manager Kevin Aberant the flexibility to hire either a police director or chief, but also lifts the cap on patrol officers. That will allow the township to expand the department and add more of a police presence.
“As we hire a new chief (Walt Walczak will soon retire) or director, whoever that is, I want someone that’s focused on community engagement and is focused on communication,” Law emphasized, “because I think a pillar of public safety is upfront and transparent communication when our community knows what’s going on.”