SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - On Sunday afternoon, May 21, South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and the South Orange Board of Trustees hosted "Police in the Park," a free community barbeque in Grove Park, next to police headquarters. According to organizers, the event was to "celebrate the work and achievements of Police Chief Kyle Kroll and the brave men and women of the South Orange Police Department, thank our outgoing 7-year Neighborhood Watch Coordinator Janine Buckner, and pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of all officers killed in the line of duty as a part of National Police Week."
Event organizers were expecting about 150 to 200 people and "ended up with over 500," according to an update to Collum's Facebook page.
In addition to having the chance to meet local police, the event also provided an opportunity for residents to meet local elected officials, and members of the South Orange Fire Department and South Orange Rescue Squad.
The event also provided information about Neighborhood Watch programs, public safety information and tips, along with free food and drink and inflatables and games for children.
Collum requested that everyone gather in front of the stage where she first asked Dr. Michael Festa, Chaplain to the FOP, PBA and Military, to make a few remarks. He asked that all the members have the strength and ability to protect all and to guide and protect them as they do their jobs.
Collum thanked Peter Travers, Adam Loehner, and the South Orange Department of Public Works for all their efforts in setting up for the Police in the Park Community Barbeque, adding that the event was to "celebrate the men and women in blue for their service." Collum noted that despite fewer members of the police department in the past 4 years, crime is down about 10% and enforcement of traffic rules has resulted in about a 64% increase in violations issued.
Collum thanked outgoing 7-year Neighborhood Watch Coordinator Janine Bucker for her service and for having organized the program. Buckner replied that although she is moving to another town, she will continue to be connected to South Orange through her position at Seton Hall University.
South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll stated that “the Chief is only as good as his officers," and that the police work to keep everyone in the community safe because everyone truly cares not only about themselves, but their neighbors as well. Kroll reminded all that if you "See Something, Say Something," and call the police, adding that they are always available, "24-7."
The event was sponsored by South Orange Village and the South Orange Village Center Alliance.