To the Editor:
I have been privileged to serve Barnegat Township as a member of the Township Committee, former Mayor, current Deputy Mayor and liaison to our truly wonderful police department.
As anyone familiar with Barnegat will tell you, we have an exceptional police department with very dedicated men and women who are caring, compassionate, service-oriented, and operate at the highest levels of professionalism.
Though I have spent my entire adult life affiliated with law enforcement and/or the law and offer these kudos without hesitation, this is not just my opinion. It is also the widespread opinion of Barnegat's residents.
Additionally, it is also the opinion of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies- which was created in 1979 as a credentialing authority through the joint efforts of law enforcement’s major executive associations, including International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
When Chief Germain, promised that our town's police department would continue to "protect the constitutional rights of all of the people with whom we come into contact and to instill in them the confidence that we will be there to help them when they need us." It goes without saying.
It also goes without saying that, "The Barnegat Police Department is an agency committed to our core values which include fairness, empathy, and respect." Anyone familiar with our police department knows this as well as our officers' " ... commitment [being] absolute and unwavering and applies to everyone."
The men and women of the Barnegat Police Department have, as does all law enforcement, a difficult job. Our officers consistently excel at delivering police services to all with fairness, compassion, and professionalism. They come to work each and every day (and night) to a headquarters building that is in need of replacement and far less than morale inspiring. Yet, our officers have morale because that have pride and dedication; I cannot say enough about the respect I have for our officers.
All that being said - and I could say even more positive things about our great police officers in Barnegat, I join with our chief in his passion for this town we call home. I enjoy peace, harmony, and mutual support as much as anyone else.
When our chief said, "I know that this town is at its best when we work together and support each other, "I am committed — as are the more than 50 dedicated members of this agency — to doing our part to ensure that continues," we must be mindful that respectful disagreement serves as a grist for the mill of democracy.
There was disagreement about slavery, but that disagreement resulted in the right result of abolition. There was disagreement about women voting, but that disagreement resulted in the right result of suffrage. There was disagreement about discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, but that disagreement resulted in the right result of the Civil Rights Act and its progeny.
These days there seems to be much disagreement about many things. Pity the parts of the world, and there are too many, where disagreement disfavored, prohibited, or worse.
In Barnegat, no one can ever say that they were denied police services or targeted for unfair enforcement due to sexual orientation. Likewise, there has never been so much as an allegation that anyone coming to Barnegat Town Hall was denied a building permit, dog license, participation in a recreational program or in any way not served properly by our great staff due to sexual orientation - or any other reason for that matter.
Nobody ever had their trash not picked up, or street not snow plowed because of their sexual orientation. It just goes without saying that municipal services in Barnegat Township from the Police Department, to the Building Inspections Department, to the Recreation Department, Public Works, Clerk's Office, etc. are blind to race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation or anything that would make one person any different from another regarding municipal services - it just goes without saying.
The Mayor disagrees with a law and has publicly stated his thoughts. I believe that if a law mandates that a curriculum be forced upon children which conflicts with the sexual morals and/or spiritual beliefs of that child's family, then the parents of that child should have the right to opt their child out of that component of public education. Sexual morals and spiritual beliefs are a parental function, not a government function.
Somehow, this narrow issue is encouraged by some to metastasize into a greater debate about broader issues. There is enough disagreement on so many issues these days that we need not, and ought not, go out of our way to segue one legitimate disagreement to a larger unrelated one.
It goes without saying that a parent's right to guide the spiritual upbringing of their child without mandated government interference/indoctrination has nothing whatsoever to do with being treated fairly by a fantastically dedicated and professional local police agency or served properly when picking up a building permit or dog license. One has nothing to do with the other. It just goes without saying.
John Novak, Barnegat Deputy Mayor
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