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Camden County Board of Elections Announces Vote by Mail Drop Box Locations

(Gloucester Township, NJ) – The State of New Jersey has provided vote-by-mail (VBM) drop boxes for each county in advance of the state’s primary election on July 7.

Camden County will have five VBM drop box locations that will be available 24 hours each day effective immediately and continuing through the close of polls on election day. Each location is well-lit and monitored by video surveillance cameras.

SJO Photo

Camden County’s VBM drop boxes can be found at the following locations:

Audubon
Municipal Building
606 West Nicholson Road

Chesilhurst
Municipal Building
201 Grant Ave., Waterford Works

Camden
Administration Building
600 Market Street
(Former entrance for Surrogate’s Office on Market Street)

Cherry Hill
Camden County College / William G. Rohrer
1889 Marlton Pike East
(Corner of Springdale Road and Marlton Pike East/Route 70 E)

Gloucester Township
Municipal Building
1261 Chews Landing Road

County residents can use any of the five drop boxes which have been placed throughout the county for convenient use.

VBM ballots can also be dropped off at the Camden County Board of Elections located at 100 University Court in Gloucester Township.

“In 2019, Camden County was ranked first in overall volume of votes cast by VBM ballots, with more residents voting via VBM than anywhere else in the state,” said County Clerk Joseph Ripa. “Vote-by-mail is going to be even more critical amidst the current public health crisis. We encourage any resident with questions about voting by mail, how the process works, and how to complete their ballot to contact our office.”

Residents with questions regarding VBM drop boxes and voting by mail should call (856) 401-VOTE. More information is available at https://www.camdencounty.com/service/voting-and-elections/.

Post has been updated.

Categories
In The Courts News

New Jersey Courts Enter Second Phase of Post-Pandemic Plan

On June 22, 2020, New Jersey courts entered Phase 2 of the Judiciary’s Post-Pandemic Plan, which provides for a limited number of employees to return to court facilities while still restricting most in-person events.

In Phase 2, 10 to 15 percent of judges and staff return to court facilities and certain matters that cannot proceed remotely may be conducted onsite.

Other than judges and staff, only attorneys and those members of the public who have scheduled court matters or appointments are permitted in the buildings. Those who have scheduled court matters or an appointment must wear a mask in the building and must maintain 6 feet of distance from others wherever possible.

Those who are sick or believe they have the COVID-19 virus should not enter any court facilities.

Members of the public seeking court services should contact the court by phone or email without entering the building.

Self-represented litigants may continue to receive services remotely by contacting the ombudsman’s office in their vicinage.

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Feature Stories In The Courts News

Letter From Law Enforcement to our Community: We Are Here to Listen, and to Learn

By Scott A. Coffina

The horrific and inexcusable killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer while three of his fellow officers watched and did nothing as a subdued man’s life was being choked out of him has started a passionate national conversation about the relationship of police officers and the communities they serve.

New Jersey’s police officers and State Troopers are among the best trained in the nation, and our residents every day benefit from the most progressive policing policies in the country.  It is gratifying to see the various reforms being proposed across the country and be able to say repeatedly that in New Jersey, “we already do that,” keeping in mind that we can always do more.  Policies and training programs instituted over the past four years include the following, which are specifically aimed at making police encounters safer for everybody and improving Law Enforcement’s relationship with our communities:

  • Training on Police Response and De-escalation Techniques for Individuals with Special Needs
  • Training on Cultural Diversity, De-escalation, and Bias Crime Reporting
  • Training on Use of Force, twice annually
  • Training on Vehicle Pursuits, twice annually
  • Crisis Intervention Training to de-escalate situations involving people experiencing a mental health crisis; Burlington County has been conducting this training for 10 years; more than 350 of our officers and troopers have received this week-long training
  • Policies and training on the safe use of CED’s (Conducted Energy Devices, commonly known as “tasers”), less-than-lethal force that can prevent the escalation of a confrontation to the point where deadly force might be necessary by police to protect themselves or others
  • A policy requiring the expedited release of video recordings of deadly force incidents involving the police, to increase transparency
  • The implementation of mandatory “Early Warning Systems” to identify potential “red flags” in an officer’s performance and allow for early intervention by their department to get them counseling, training, or whatever other assistance they might need
  • Updated statewide Internal Affairs practices and procedures, including a mandate that departments provide access to the Internal Affairs file of an officer who has applied to another department, to enable the hiring agency to do its due diligence in hiring officers with integrity
  • Implementation of the Attorney General’s 21/21 Community Policing program, through which County Prosecutor’s Offices regularly engage with the public on subjects of community interest; in Burlington County, we have hosted community programs on use-of-force investigations, bias crimes, juvenile justice and the opioid crisis
  • A 2019 that law placed the investigation of all fatal use of force incidents under the authority of the Attorney General’s Office.

Despite the understandable anger by people of all backgrounds at the merciless killing of George Floyd, the many protests throughout our State – in big cities and rural towns alike – have been passionate but mostly peaceful.  I do not believe this is by accident, but rather reflects a reservoir of goodwill between New Jersey residents and our law enforcement agencies resulting from the substantial investment made in training, policies, and community outreach that have produced law enforcement conduct that is overwhelmingly fair.  This is not to suggest that bad incidents do not happen – police officers, like the rest of us, can make grievous mistakes or break the law in ways that could lead to tragic outcomes, and when they do, we hold them accountable.  No one is above the law.   

That said, while our protests, thankfully, have not been violent, they certainly have been passionate, exuding anger, frustration and sadness.  We as leaders in the law enforcement community must come to terms with these raw emotions displayed by the people we have sworn to protect and serve, and ask ourselves how we can do better.  Because for all of our training, all of our progressive policies, all of our careful hiring, and all of our community policing activities, I nevertheless have African American moms telling me they are afraid that their sons will be hurt, or worse, in an encounter with the police. 

As a law enforcement executive who has seen countless acts of compassion, heroism and respect by police officers towards members of the community, this is heartbreaking.  It is heartbreaking that anyone should fear that their loved one will have an encounter with the very people whose sworn duty – and natural inclination, for almost all officers – is to protect them. 

We as a community need to grapple with this startling disconnect.  Because even when law enforcement officers’ actions are just, justice is imperfect unless people not only are treated fairly, but that they feel they are being treated fairly by those who have been entrusted to enforce our laws.

Law Enforcement needs to ask these moms “why” they feel this way and we need to listen to the answers.  Accordingly, in the upcoming days, I will announce our next 21/21 Community Policing event, which will be an online town hall forum for members of our community to speak directly to a panel of police chiefs, police chaplains and me.  I frequently have invited the public to raise any complaints about police conduct with the local chiefs, or with me directly, at 609-265-5034.  At this upcoming listening session, it is not just “formal” complaints we want to hear, but rather the conversations at the barber shops, nail salons and neighborhood barbecues about police use-of-force or other actions that may not be misconduct, but that nevertheless feed this fear.  In short, we want to know what are the concerns in our communities about the police – not in Minneapolis, Louisville, or Baltimore, but right here in Burlington County – that make parents fearful for their black sons, and your ideas for how we can do better.   

We are fortunate to have come far enough with our policies and training to be able to take that next step into exploring this persistent disconnect between law enforcement’s perception of ourselves as professionals deeply committed to protecting and serving all people of the community, and that portion of our community that does not trust police officers to protect them.  Accordingly, I am working towards arranging implicit bias training for all law enforcement officers in Burlington County.  We all carry unconscious biases with us, shaped by experience, family, news, friends, education, pop culture, and countless other inputs.  Not necessarily limited to race, hidden bias also could shape one’s view of people of a certain socioeconomic status, religion or sexual orientation.  It even shapes how people view others who look like themselves.  Everyone has unconscious biases, and if we are being honest, these hidden perceptions by a civilian can shape an encounter with a police officer as much as the officer’s unconscious biases do. 

However, there is little doubt that unconscious bias can be an impediment to impartial policing and perhaps contribute to the distrust of the police that exists by some members of the community.  Bringing these biases out of the recesses of an officer’s mind can help them assess a situation more objectively, and enhance their decision-making and interactions with the public.

Already, all our State Troopers, Prosecutor’s Office Detectives and Assistant Prosecutors, and some of our local police departments have had implicit bias training during the past few years.  Will having all 900 sworn officers in Burlington County also receive that training be a panacea to Law Enforcement’s strained relationship with some members of our community?  I don’t know.  But it will be one more tool to enhance the already-outstanding professionalism of our police officers.  And we should use every tool at our disposal to put those moms’ minds at ease. 

Scott A. Coffina is the County Prosecutor for Burlington County.

Categories
Bright Side Covid-19 News

NPDC Announces Three Recipients of Financial Support for S.J. Non-Profits


HADDONFIELD, NJ—The Non Profit Development Center of Southern New Jersey has selected three South Jersey non-profit organizations (NPOs) to receive $500 Pandemic Relief grants:

  • Puerto Rican Unity for Progress – Camden County
  • Moorestown Visiting Nursing Association – Burlington County – (specifically for assistance for the indigent and uninsured)
  • Greater Woodbury Cooperative Ministries – Gloucester County

Puerto Rican Unity for Progress (PRUP):

Promotes improved access to economic, social and cultural opportunities and resources for low income individuals and their families with special emphasis on the Hispanic population in Camden City. PRUP will utilize this Pandemic Relief Grant to help feed Camden’s youth during the organization’s summer lunch program.

Greater Woodbury Cooperative Ministries (GWCM):

Is a non-profit charitable organization serving northern Gloucester County, providing emergency food relief and guidance to its clients. GWCM will use the funding from the Pandemic Relief Fund to buy groceries for its Food Pantry which “sees new faces every day as a result of COVID 19.” 

Moorestown Visiting Nurse Association:

Is one of the very few home care agencies qualified to provide a continuum of care for patients of all ages, “no matter how serious the problem, no matter what stage of the illness.” With the Pandemic Relief grant, MVNA will support its services specifically to the indigent community members served during this time.

NPDC Executive Director Nicole Nance announced the grants and explained that “although our primary mission is educational programming to build capacity for the region’s NPOs, our Board recognizes that this is a time of financial crisis for many South Jersey non-profit organizations.”

The grant winners were selected from among 37 organizations that responded to NPDC’s Board-funded Pandemic Relief Initiative “to support NPOs whose reach to at-risk populations is significant at this time of crisis,” said Nance.

The Board fund currently reflects private pledges of $250 each from six Board members, which were turned into three awards of $500 each.

About NPDCSNJ:

The Non Profit Development Center was founded in 2006 to help South Jersey’s non profit organizations continue to do good…but do it even better. This all-volunteer service organization is dedicated to enhancing the work of the region’s 10,000+ nonprofits and their leaders through technical assistance, information-sharing, education, and networking.

NPDC has served more than 2,500 of the region’s NPO professionals and recognized more than 75 of the region‘s top NPO leaders and organizations at its annual Awards Dinner. In addition, the organization and eight of its volunteer leaders have been honored by former President Barack Obama with the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

NPDC’s 2020 Board of Directors includes:
• Katie Logan/Chair
  TD Bank
• Ryan Kastner/Vice Chair
  Innovative Benefit Planning
• Darren Blough, MSW, BCABA/Secretary
  Bancroft
• Paul Boland, MBA, EA/Treasurer
  AteliersFAS
• Jennifer Chew
  Republic Bank
• Les Cohen
  Katrz JCC/ Cherry Hill
• Pamela Collins
  Rev Communications
• Robert D’Intino, Ph.D., MBA, CCM
  Rowan University
• Matt Jakubowski, AAI, CRIS
  Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
• Tracey Sharpe
   Sharpe Consulting
• Glen Walton, CPA
   Bowman & Company, LLP
• Ira Weisman
   Idea Innovations, LLC 
• Michael Willmann, Esq.
  WMSH Marketing Communications

Categories
Feature Stories News

ABCNJ Offers Members STEP Safety Program

Mt. Laurel, NJ: The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP) is a safety benchmarking and improvement tool that dramatically improves safety performance.

Participating ABC member firms measure their safety processes and policies on 25 key components through a detailed questionnaire with the goal of implementing or enhancing safety programs that reduce job site incidents.

“Many of our members see significant benefits from STEP being a resource to them,” said Sam Fiocchi, President of ABC NJ. “Commercial companies, industrial companies, and suppliers often take part in the STEP Safety program due to its world-class safety standards. Taking part in this program shows organizational leadership, a commitment to your employees, and in turn, translates to a positive cultural transformation.”

The STEP program first evaluates the current level of safety performance with all future safety performances tracked after the initial evaluation period. The best practices are then implemented based on results to transform the organization’s safety culture, creating a peer-based industry-wide benchmark safety performance. Organizational leadership must also demonstrate that all employees are equipped with proper safety tools.  Proper safety tools include fall protection training and prevention tips, improved hazard, injury, and emergency communication and reporting procedures, upgraded protective gear, substance abuse programs for a drug and alcohol-free workplace, and more.

“Safety is a part of our DNA,” continued Fiocchi. “STEP makes companies up to six times safer than the industry average, something ABC and its members have shown a dedicated commitment to.  The program delivers tangible results which is critical if a business is willing to invest their time and resources. These results enable our membership to excel and beset the standard throughout the construction industry.”

To learn more about the STEP program or to start the program, please visit www.abc.org/step.

About Associated Builders and Contractors: ABC is a national association representing 21,000 merit shop construction and construction-related firms in 69 Chapters across the United States. Our membership represents all specialties within the U.S. construction industry and is comprised primarily of firms that perform work in the industrial and commercial sectors of the industry. ABC NJ is the industry’s liaison to federal, state, and local governments and the public at large. For more information, please visit our website at www.abcnjc.org.