WESTFIELD, NJ — (Updated at 3:39 p.m.) The police chief doesn’t want this town’s residents to be recognized as what New Jersey’s governor has be calling “knuckleheads” who violate social distancing orders.

Town officials discussed compliance with social distancing, local COVID-19 statistics and remote municipal court during a town hall held via the teleconferencing platform Zoom Wednesday.

Here are four key takeaways:

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Social Distancing is Working

Statistics show the number of cases in New Jersey peaked in mid-April, Health Officer Megan Avallone said.

“We are at the point where we are headed on the right direction,” said Avallone. “We are not there yet, but we are on our way to getting there.”

“What we’re doing is working and I’m so appreciative to all the residents that are really following the guidance,” she added.

Mayor Shelley Brindle asked that everyone wear masks while in public spaces, including outdoors, when interacting with other people.

“As we get more and more people coming outside, I think it’s going to be more important than ever,” Brindle said. 

No “Knuckleheads” Here

Since March 19, the Westfield Police Department has conducted 1,794 compliance checks of parks, restaurants, businesses and religious facilities to ensure compliance with social distancing directives, Police Chief Christopher Battiloro said.

No one so far has been charged with a crime relating to social distancing rules in town, Battiloro said. That’s not to say that everyone has been complying all the time.

In one instance, police records obtained by TAPinto Westfield show that on the morning of Palm Sunday, April 5, officers broke up a “large gathering” at a church in Westfield. 

When confronted with gatherings, “Our officers have been able to properly educate persons and interact with them in such a positive way that they’ve been able to achieve voluntary compliance,” Battiloro said Wednesday.

He encouraged residents to keep abiding by the rules. “I do not want any Westfielders to be recognized as any of New Jersey’s ‘knuckleheads.’” 

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Court is Back in Session

Municipal court is back in session, virtually. Westfield is the first town in Union County to utilize the teleconference platform Zoom to hold municipal court, Brindle said. 

DPW Still Hard at Work

In staggered shifts, the DPW continues to work with such projects as planting trees, fixing roads and restriping parking lots, Town Administrator Jim Gildea said.

Renovations of the coffee kiosk on the south side of the train station is almost complete, Gildea said, with electrical work and painting left to finish. 

Local artist Riccardo Roig is set to paint a second mural under the overpass to compliment the one completed last year, he said.

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