SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- The South Orange Police Department has teamed up with the local Neighborhood Watch organizers to develop a new Business Watch for additional safety awareness in town.

“It isn’t to replace any mechanism for calling 911,” said Janine Buckner, who is the director of the South Orange Neighborhood Watch and coordinator for the Business Watch.  “It is an informational route for people to get a longer route of communication going by sending emails to alert and inform.”

The Business Watch idea was unveiled by Main Street South Orange at the Business Breakfast at Seton Hall University in late March.  At that time, only a very small number of the roughly 200 South Orange businesses were registered to be part of the program.

Sign Up for E-News

“It’s an outstanding program,” South Orange Police Capt. Kyle Kroll commented.  “And it puts people in the know about what’s going on the community.”

As a concerned South Orange resident, Buckner began organizing the Neighborhood Watch nearly two years ago.  She said she quickly realized that her experience as a professor for the past 12 years had given her the necessary skills to make the project of two-way communication between the residents and the police successful.

“They knew that they couldn’t be everywhere, and the residents have high expectations for public safety, but they can’t do everything on their own,” added Buckner. “So we are the eyes on the street when they can’t be.”

Buckner also pointed out that the Business Watch was therefore, a natural progression from the Neighborhood Watch because the business became one “zone” of the village to be monitored. 

“It gives people an immediate chain of awareness,” Kroll said.

Ross Fields is the director of the Business Watch from the community standpoint.

“Neighborhood Watch has been very successful and it feel that Business Watch will as well,” Buckner said. 

Participating business owners are careful not to profile any specific group. One of the program’s goals is to avoid focusing on negative information but rather, promote safety by partnering with residents.

Kroll said that the program is new but he felt that it had great potential.

Interested residents who would like more information on how to get involved can contact Janine Buckner at nwc.sonj@gmail.com or the Community Relations Bureau at 973-763-3000 ext. 7802.

Alexandra Lubischer is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts designed to give students real-world experience.