BARNEGAT, NJ — Barnegat Chief Keith Germain provided regular updates when the pandemic first hit New Jersey residents. He acted as both the voice of reason and reassurance. Germain was back this week on Facebook Live to share more insight on a number of pressing issues.

The Barnegat police chief first expressed his views on the new marijuana laws, including the most recent amendment that allows law enforcement authorities to notify parents when their underage children are using marijuana or alcohol — or found with either in their possession.

“If you are a New Jersey voter who voted or supports the new law, you voted to legalize cannabis for adults,” maintained Germain. “What the legislature did was pass a disaster of a law that essentially legalizes marijuana and alcohol for kids.”

Germain identified other flaws in the legislation, which he said “pretty much guarantees that the police are only in incredibly rare circumstances, ever going to approach, or ever get involved with a juvenile in possession of marijuana or alcohol."

The Barnegat chief was referring to the portion of the law that actually could pose legal issues for law enforcement officers whose intentions may be to help children. More on this information can be found here and in the video linking back to Germain's updates earlier this week.

On the issue of COVID-19 cases, Germain pointed out that  positive test results have increased in recent weeks. He expected the upticks would continue for a little while more.  He, Mayor Bille and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Latwis, have worked together on the possibility of setting up a vaccination center in Barnegat.

“A little more than 50% of our officers chose to get vaccinated,” said Germain. “We also had more officers test positive in the last month than we've had for almost the entire duration of the pandemic.”

The Barnegat Police Department has an extremely close relationship with the Barnegat Schools. Germain shared information about the new SHIELD program coming next year to the high school.

"We've always focussed on having a police department that is representative of the community we serve," said Germain. "Quite frankly, we love the idea of having homegrown talent, kids who are already invested in a town, love the town, and are trying to find a pathway to employment here.

The SHIELD program curriculum allows high school students to take law enforcement classes.  Graduates are guaranteed an interview with the Barnegat Police Department.. More than a dozen Barnegat High School students have already expressed an interest in the new program.

Barnegat police calls were removed from the county a couple of days ago and will now be dispatched through Stafford..  Germain said it was not economically feasible to bring them back in-house and thanked Ocean County Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy for the use of county dispatch services.

“The Stafford Police Department has a great team over there and a great set up," said Germain. "They're working with us to get everything set up and make sure we have a smooth transition.”

Germain responded to questions asked during his live chat.  Take some time if you have it to listen to his complete community update.