The TAP article describing a law suit filed against the township of Berkeley Heights and Town Clerk Ana Minkoff by Town Council Candidate Tom Foregger is not just disturbing, but nothing short of shocking. At issue seems to be a demand for the information regarding the locations of Police officers during the local business sponsored Winter Walk. According to the TAPinto Berkeley Heights article, “The invoice received by Foregger from the Township contained redactions which omitted details regarding individual assignment of officers and did not provide information to determine the cost to Berkeley Heights residents for what he called a "private shopping event for Berkeley Heights Businesses," according to filed lawsuit. Foregger is requesting a copy of an unredacted invoice.” The total amount of police cost was provided to him.
The extremely popular, family-friendly, business paid for Winter Walk event which is coupled with the township’s tree lighting is an enormously successful community night, and not a “private shopping event.” Anyone who attended saw literally thousands of people enjoying the various outdoor family activities. I didn't notice anyone with shopping bags full of items from local merchants. What I did see were happy people enjoying a very special evening courtesy of the incredible hard work of local business owners and volunteers. And everyone was kept safe thanks to our Police department.
The Berkeley Heights Police Department works tirelessly to protect our community and its residents. Under the outstanding leadership of Chief John DiPasquale, our town is continually ranked as one of the safest in the state and in the country. Disclosing the locations of officers, even though the event has passed, could be potentially dangerous. Future events drawing large crowds are just ahead, including: the annual Memorial Day Parade and Remembrance Program, Street Fair and Mt. Carmel Festival. Clearly the Police Chief knows when and where to place his officers to maximize our protection. It is exactly why these events have been so successful and SAFE! Why would he compromise our safety or that of his officers by disclosing such information which has been so effective?
The Chief has continued to build upon an outstanding group of officers. Their backgrounds are top notch, including many who are Veterans of our Armed Forces. Not only are all of our officers well trained in police work, but they also play a significant role in our community, donating their time through PBA and PAL activities that benefit our children through Trunk or Treat, Police Santa, the Youth Police Academy, athletic programs and more. Along with the Fire Department, they helped launch the kick-off of the fundraising campaign for Veterans Memorial Park hosting the Mayor’s Cup Charity Softball Game, which has become a popular annual event. How fortunate we are to have them and to have Chief DiPasquale at the helm!
Our Police Department has done their work out of a small, out-dated trailer for decades. If you have never seen their work station conditions, you should. They deserve better, and at long last will have a modern headquarters in the new Municipal Complex. And they certainly don't deserve to have their concern for our safety questioned or challenged through the audacity of this law suit. Please, the next time you see one of our dedicated members of the Police Department, take a moment to thank him or her, and assure them that we, the residents of Berkeley Heights, are grateful for their hard work in the protection of all of us.