Upping Safe Neighborhood presence at Princeton High School

The Princeton Police Department strives to create a comfortable relationship with residents through its Safe Neighborhood Bureau. At the May 23 Princeton Council meeting, Lt. Chris Morgan, Safe Neighborhood commander, described a new program to foster familiarity between PPD and students, staff and parents at Princeton High School.

In an effort to expand outreach beyond the school day, Safe Neighborhood partnered with the PHS athletic department to bring officers around during practices and games.

“The idea behind [the program] is to just continue the interaction with the students outside the classroom, and (it) also gives us the opportunity to meet some of the parents,” Morgan reported to council. “So far we’ve had great feedback from everyone.”

Morgan said this expansion will hopefully be just the beginning of Safe Neighborhood having more significant involvement in the school community. As long as the program continues to receive a positive response and be successful, the department will look to join other activities beyond school, such as the school play or band practice.

“It’s been really helpful,” said Safe Neighborhood Supervising Sgt. Chris Tash about attending games thus far. “The students have been great with it. We’ve been to baseball, softball, track and lacrosse games. The other day, a student came up to us and said it was really nice seeing us there.”

Tash explained the impetus to start the program was not in response to any kind of issue or threat at sporting events but simply a measure to create a friendlier relationship between kids and police officers.

“When we show up to an athletic event, we don’t want people to say, ‘Hey, what are the cops doing here?’ We want the kids to feel comfortable seeing the officers at their games supporting them,” Tash said.

The Safe Neighborhood Bureau began when the Princeton Township and Borough departments consolidated. Its main priority is community outreach and outreach to schools. The officers give presentations to students on topics such as drugs and alcohol and cyber bullying. They also host popular community-wide events such as the recent Wheels Rodeo or the summer favorite, Community Night Out, coming up soon at Community Park Pool.

In other news:

• Council passed a resolution to set up a pilot project for a valet parking system. Councilmembers had to choose the project location from being on Spring Street or Witherspoon Street and chose Witherspoon in front of Hinds Plaza. Open Door Valet Co. will run the valet. Each car will pay $15 to be valet parked.

• Council voted unanimously in favor of a bond ordinance to improve the main sewer line along parts of Snowden Lane and Van Dyke Road. Residents will be required to contribute $34,000 each to the total cost of $775,000.

• Council passed a resolution to to cancel budget appropriations of $2,000 as a result of deliberations over the budget. The cancellation, council was advised by municipal staff, will ensure that surplus, or fund balance, will remain at a reasonable amount.

• Princeton University’s Director of Community and Regional Affairs Kristin Appelget made a report on an upcoming construction project to replace the green roof on top of Firestone Library. The six-month project is scheduled to start around June 2.

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida