Hopewell Township has not been immune to the challenges our country has faced over the past weeks.
As you are likely aware, earlier this month there was a Facebook post involving members of the Hopewell Township Police Department and several of our civilian Township employees.
We learned of the post on the afternoon of Monday, June 8. The Township Administrator and Chief of Police immediately put the employees involved on paid leave pending a prompt and thorough investigation. The Township has employed an independent investigator to review the civilian cases and an independent hearing officer will review the Police Department cases. We are committed to ensuring this investigation is completed as soon as possible.
All of us on the Hopewell Township Committee deplore and condemn racism and are dedicated to addressing it directly and unequivocally. Members of the Committee stood at the vigil and marched on June 7th with members of the Hopewell Valley community in Pennington in support of George Floyd and all Black lives. We understand the urgency of action. We are committed to listening to our community and to working towards positive change. On Thursday we heard from many in our community. Many spoke again at a rally on Saturday. We need and want to continue to hear from you — your thoughts, concerns, experiences, and questions.
This will be an ongoing conversation, not a one-time event. We are committed to offering more opportunities to the public to express their thoughts in the near future. Our next scheduled Township Committee meeting will be on Monday, June 22, and will be a Zoom meeting. As we schedule additional meetings, we will post information on the Township’s website and Facebook page, and send notices to local press.
We know you want answers, and we are working to get them to you. In addition, working with our professional staff, we are examining current Township policies and considering ways to incorporate, with public input, the best practices from other communities, increase dialogue between community members and the police, and increase transparency in Police Department policies. The past weeks have taught our Committee, our Township, and our nation that these conversations will have to be ongoing and inclusive if we are going to achieve meaningful change.
Some of us have been asked why we did not attend the rally on June 13. We understood it was in support for issues that are currently in litigation or under investigation. The Township Committee has a role in the potential discipline of Township employees. Independent reviewers will present recommended findings and conclusions to the Township Committee, which we will then act on. We, as Township Committee members, must maintain our status as independent, open-minded fact finders during the investigation.
The Hopewell Township Police Department has worked to support the Hopewell Valley community for many years. While we investigate this incident, we will also continue to support our first responders.
We are committed to listening to every voice in our community and to ensuring every member of our community is treated fairly and with respect.
Submitted by the Hopewell Township Committee