The WTPD department would like to introduce our two new School Resource Officers who will be working in the Washington Township Schools starting in September. Sgt. Robert Oranchak and PO Adam Feichter. Both officers have decades of experience in the township, are DARE certified, and have direct connections to the schools. Each has taught in the schools for years and have been directly involved in departmental community policing functions throughout their careers. They both are highly experienced, professional, and decorated officers. They are in the process of being trained in the L.E.A.D. curriculum so that they can bring more programs into the schools. Having a supervisor in the school also adds another resource that will assist with decision making, investigations, and overseeing the entire program. Both will do a great job in their new roles.
I would also like to thank our past Washington Township School SROs, PO John Wurtemberg and PO Cory Lee. Both did an amazing job the past four years in the schools and we are grateful for their commitment. There is no doubt they will be missed. Thank you John and Cory for all of your hard work. And even though they are no longer in the SRO roles, the bonds they made are long lasting and they will be visiting the schools when they are working, to see the children in order to maintain the relationships that they built.
In addition, I would also like to recognize PO Robert Brobst who was our SRO at West Morris, and is being replaced by PO David Marut in September. PO Brobst did a great job at the school, brought in many programs, and I thank him for his work. PO Marut brings years of experience to the position. He is a prior Detective and has been involved in numerous activities within the department throughout his career. Thank you to Rob, and best of luck to Dave.
In response to all that is going on in the world today, know that all the officers on the Washington Township Police Department are highly trained in Active Shooter Response, Tactical Maneuvers, De-escalation, bleeding control and first aid, as well as required training in multiple areas that allows them to literally be the best officers there are. Based upon our accreditation status, we must keep everyone held to the highest standards, so whomever is working in the schools, they are the best at what they do. The SRO role as well as other support service roles in the department including Traffic, Detective Bureau, and other assignments, are not permanent career positions, but are rotational after so many years. This is done for various reasons, and is beneficial for a department of our size as well as the community.
We pride ourselves on our focus towards community policing, and have adjusted many of our protocols over the past years to promote that. We are also fortunate to have the best equipment possible, and the SROs always have that readily available to them. All SROs are also equipped with body worn cameras per Attorney General’s guidelines. In addition to the regular SROs, we supplement our school security by having patrol officers do random walks in the schools and patrol the lots during their tours of duty, so often there are multiple officers at any school at any time. Our focus is and always will be on the safety and mentoring of our children in town and ensuring they can learn and grow in a safe environment. No officer on this department will ever hesitate to act when called upon should the unthinkable occur.
Thank you to Superintendent Peter Turnamian for working with the Police Department, Mayor Matthew Murello, and the entire Township Committee, to ensure the continued success of our township SRO program. Unfortunately, there was misinformation spread about the future of the program. At no time was there ever the thought of getting rid of all of our SROs and replacing them with Class III Officers, or decreasing our SRO program. The fact is that just the opposite occurred, and discussions actually included supplementing the SRO officers with additional Class III officers in the future, so the full time officers could spend more time teaching, mentoring, and interacting with the children.
I have been made aware of numerous discussions pertaining to this issue and the fact that anyone would ever think that I, or others, would look to do anything that takes away from caring for our children, is disturbing, as nothing is more important than the safety of our schools. It is unfortunate that certain individuals opted to promote misinformation and cause concern in our community, especially in the wake of the tragedy in Texas, instead of contacting me directly to verify what they had heard. As I have always said, my door is always open and I am always available to discuss anything in town. We might not always agree and that can be a good thing, but we can always share a cup of coffee, have an open conversation, and share information that might explain things better than the speculations on social media.
Thank you again to our past SROs, best of luck to our new ones, and we look forward to a great start to the new school year in September.
I hope everyone has a safe and healthy summer.
Chief Jeffrey Almer