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Pennington Police Department is here to stay

by Lynn S. Robbins

At a special meeting on May 13, Mayor James Davy and the Pennington Borough Council addressed rumors that the Borough may eliminate its local police department and join a shared service with Hopewell Township. 

“Let me be clear, this is just a rumor. There are no plans or proposals to make any change to our Police Department,” said Davy in his opening comment. “As Mayor and, I believe, the Council, fully support maintaining local control and oversight of our own professional police force that is dedicated to serving the needs of our community.”

Davy referred to studies showing that effective local law enforcement is key to maintaining public safety and quality of life in small towns. He praised the officers who dedicate their lives to protecting Pennington residents, and he expressed his commitment to ensuring that police officers have the resources and local control to continue serving and protecting the community.

In concluding his comments, Davy said the police department makes the town proud. “So let me put those troubling rumors to rest once and for all,” he said. “Our municipal police department is here to stay, under local leadership, and with my full backing.” See MercerMe’s coverage of Bandshell Dedication Honors First Responders and Celebrates Diversity.

Several Pennington residents spoke up during the public session.

Michael Southall recalled the time his son was hit and injured by a landscaping truck while riding his bicycle several years ago. He said the police were called and arrived immediately. Officer Thomas took charge of the scene, and followed up with Southall’s family a couple days later to see how his son was doing. Southall said Thomas, now a sergeant, still asks about his son today. 

The neighbor who had called the police, Chloe Kopkash, said she was impressed that Chief Pinelli showed up because this is not something police chiefs normally do. Referring to the police force, she said, “They compare to no other.”

Bob Bilobran, a retired police officer, expressed the importance of having local police in a small town, and voiced his concern about the “scheme” to eliminate the local police department. Davy replied that there is no scheme. Referring to the resolution supporting the police, Bilobran said, “It is a great decision on your part.”

Several other residents said they were grateful for the Police Department, expressing the value of having officers who know the residents, have engagement with school kids and youth, and display professional character. They shared appreciation for the Department’s longstanding presence in town. 

Council President Catherine Chandler encouraged public members who appreciate the police to express their thoughts in an email addressed to the Borough and that the office will forward the messages to the Police Department.

Borough Administrator GP Caminiti invited residents to stop by his office if they have questions about rumors they hear. “My door is always open,” he said.

After public and Council comments were expressed, the decree  — 2024-5.13 – Resolution Affirming Support for Pennington Police Department – was passed unanimously with Council members punctuating their votes with comments such as “a resounding yes” and “an unequivocal yes.”

After casting his yes vote, council member John Valenza added, “and that will never change.”

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