began preparations for its National Night Out by hosting a kickoff meeting Thursday night at the Chews Landing Road municipal complex's senior center.
The meeting was attended by numerous township residents and business owners who were looking for ways to support and partner with GTPD in their fight against crime.
National Night Out is an annual event coordinated by residents and businesses of towns across the country. It is a night for people to raise awareness of crime in their neighborhood. Events are held in numerous spots across the township during this time. The citizens and business owners coordinate with the police department to hold these events
For National Night Out to be a success each year, the police department needs the support of the people of Gloucester Township. This was the message portrayed by Police Chief W. Harry Earle during the hour-long presentation.
“(The community) is involved and we're so grateful to have them as our partner," said Earle. National Night Out is "a way to keep some of these people involved in our partnership.”
After a greeting from Mayor David Mayer, Earle spoke to the audience about how support from the community in previous years helped make the police department progress in its efforts to protect the citizens, especially with some of the changes in the last year since he took over as police chief.
“One of the best improvements has been the information. The information that the public has given us has been great," he said. "We've opened up an opportunity for them to communicate with us in new ways.”
GTPD also has plans to improve its communication towards its citizens. The old Nixel alert system has been replaced by . Global Connect is expected to allow for more automation and efficiency in sending out police alerts to township residents. Gloucester Township residents can sign up for alerts here.
Earle believes the improved exchange of information has been the biggest improvement of the police department in the past year. He stated that is has helped with patrolling areas where crime is heavy and involves feedback from individual neighborhoods.
This was just one of the many improvements highlighted by Earle during the presentation. Other highlights included the hiring of nine new officers in the last year, how the department has expanded its social media efforts, and new regulations with child safety and traffic.
The police department also hosted a paper shredding event in the municipal building parking lot before Thursday's kickoff meeting. The department's community relations team was on hand with a truck from Assure Shield Secure Document Destruction to help citizens who had personal documents to shred.
“We wanted everyone to be very mindful of how they dispose of documents that are personal or financial," said Earle. “So even if they didn't come out to the event, but they heard about it, it gave them a reminder of 'Hey, I should shred this.' And it gave an opportunity for them to have a place to take it.”
Citizens who want more information on National Night Out should contact the police department's Community Relations Unit.