Hopewell Township suspended six employees, including five police officers, this week in response to alleged racist Facebook activity. A statement issued by Township Police Chief Lance Maloney reads:
“On Monday, June 8, 2020 the township learned that multiple police officers and township employees had been accused of improper conduct involving social media. Those officers and employees were immediately placed on leave by the Chief of Police and Business Administrator. Complete and thorough internal investigations will be completed.
“The Hopewell Township Police Department is also investigating an unrelated incident in which an unidentified male acted inappropriately just prior to the start of a Hopewell Township Committee meeting via Zoom causing the meeting to be canceled on Monday, June 8, 2020. “
The first part of the statement refers to an incident detailed in the Trentonian on June 9, 2020. MercerMe will report on this as more details become available.
The second refers to an incident that occurred during the Hopewell Township Committee meeting Monday with which MercerMe reporter, Mary Galioto, had only a fleeting glimpse. As the regularly scheduled zoom meeting was beginning, it was invaded by the image of a naked man and simultaneous voices of profanity. As the disturbance became apparent, Mayor Kristin McLaughlin instructed the Township Clerk to shut down the zoom meeting.
In an email to MercerMe Monday evening, McLaughlin stated:
“Unfortunately tonight, an unknown individual or individuals interrupted the Hopewell Township Committee meeting and we were forced to end the meeting before we officially started it. We had been looking forward to supporting restaurants and other local businesses as New Jersey prepares to re-open, to support local non-profits, and to keep Hopewell Township going forward.
“We have rescheduled Monday’s meeting to this Thursday at 5pm and are working with our Clerk to upgrade our security procedures to ensure public meetings are safe and secure. The incident will be investigated. Moving forward, we will be requiring that meeting participants be validated via Zoom and display their full, legal name.“
The matter has been referred to the Hopewell Township Police Department for investigation, according to McLaughlin.