SPRINGFIELD, NJ - The final Springfield Township Committee meeting of the year was a chance for town officials to recount and reminisce on all that had taken place over the past year. But for outgoing mayor Erica Dubois, her thoughts were more immediately drawn to the aftermath of a shooting Tuesday afternoon in Jersey City, where she teaches.
Dubois is a teacher at PS 14 in Jersey City, Ollie Culbreth School, and while speaking after the meeting, explained that lock downs are a semi-regular part of her teaching career, but this one was unlike any she had experienced before.
"Unfortunately the neighborhood I work in, we've been on multiple lock downs over my career," Dubois said. "Usually due to possible violence in the neighborhood, and it's usually short-lived lock downs. This was different. It was extended. it was over four hours. Just not knowing for sure, it was less than a mile from my school, so just the concern for everyone involved."
She said that she had come directly from her school to the township committee meeting, which meant that at the time of the interview, she still did not have the full picture of what had gone down, but her thoughts were with the victims and their families.
"My thoughts are definitely with the victims families," Dubois said. "And I just-like I said-when I walked out of the building and I see these officers and I know what's some of the situations they go through and to me they look like kids, it's not an easy thing and it doesn't just go away. It's something you think about. You don't like scared but it doesn't just go away."
Dubois would later post a longer statement to her committee person Facebook page, which can be read below:
Additionally, one member of the township committee with a policing background spoke to the need to let community officers know that their work is appreciated, especially in light of the day's events.
Former Newark Police Officer Chris Weber, who is finishing up his first year on the Springfield Township Committee said that simply talking to an officer can help bridge the gap. He expanded upon his statement after the meeting while speaking with TAPinto.
"Sometimes the community needs to go up to them and say 'hey, how are you?' 'Do you need anything?' How's everything today?'" Weber said. "That's all. At this time in America right now, it is very hard to decipher friend or foe. And with that being said, it puts police on edge a lot."
By doing so, especially now that police are mourning the loss of Detective Joseph Seals, even a simple acknowledgement can be powerful and go a long way.
"And you [can] take the edge off," Weber added. "It's a hard enough job as it is, and to walk up to somebody and say 'hey, I got you man. If you need anything let me know,' that means the world to them. it means more than anything else to know that the public is actually on their side."