I want to express my gratitude for Councilwoman Ayesha Hamilton who advocated for us all with courage and eloquence regarding the policy to put armed retired officers in WW-P schools.
I also want to voice my thanks and appreciation to the 100-plus West Windsor and Plainsboro citizens who attended, and the 50 who spoke eloquently regarding their opinions about this policy.
About 80 percent of the speakers opposed the policy, and 100 percent of the students and recent alumni who spoke opposed the policy and repeatedly made the point that this policy affects them the most and they should have a voice in the matter.
The speakers were from diverse backgrounds: parents, students, teachers, lawyers, physicians and others. There were nearly four hours of public comments. You can read a tweet recap of the meeting at: twitter.com/shinyilin.
The replay of the meeting is expected to be posted at westwindsornj.org/councilpastagendas.html
I am grateful to Council President Alison Miller for voting to oppose the policy, but am disappointed that she did not second Ayesha’s motion to table the resolution to improve the contract’s many issues, as identified by several lawyers, and renegotiate the terms.
I am, of course, deeply disappointed with Mayor Hemant Marathe and Councilwomen Linda Geevers, Virginia Manzari and Jyotika Bahree.
It seemed that the public testimony opposing the policy did not sway them. This was one of the most well attended council meetings in the council’s history.
It makes me wonder if any number of attendees attending the meeting would have been sufficient to change their minds or if they already had their minds made up before the meeting.
I feel conflicted about how to proceed. I want what is best for the students. I don’t want to spread fear about this policy. There was a miscarriage of justice in our community, but that is not the police’s fault.
It is the fault of the school board for the lack of transparency and not adequately informing the public about the vote, and for voting in the summer the week after school ended when many of us (including me) were on vacation.
It is also the fault of the Plainsboro Township Committee and the West Windsor Town Council (except Ayesha) for rushing through the policy without requiring adequate public notice regarding the policy or addressing the many flaws in the shared services agreement.
If you are unhappy with the lack of transparency and the rushed way this vote was handled without proper notification to the public and proper vetting of the contract, please vote out Bahree and vote out school board members Anthony Fleres and Rachel Juliana and Michele Kaish this November.
Please write to the school board members and let them know how your feel. You can find their email addresses at west-windsor-plainsboro.k12.nj.us/about_us/board_of_education/board_members.
How should we proceed now in a way that is best for the students and makes them feel as safe as possible given what is happening?
I want to let the students know that I have 100 percent confidence that the West Windsor and Plainsboro police have your best interests at heart.
The West Windsor police were in attendance at the meeting and heard our concerns, and I am sure they will respond with kindness and try to make you as comfortable as possible.
West Windsor Chief Robert Garofalo and Plainsboro Chief Guy Armour are truly exceptional individuals, and I feel their genuine care and commitment to our community.
They both strive for excellence and achieve it. I think that the West Windsor Police Department is an excellent example for our nation and stands by our community through thick and thin. They will do their absolute best to keep you safe.
I am grateful to know that there have been no accidental discharges of firearms in the past 40 years in both the West Windsor and Plainsboro police departments. I am grateful to know that the students cannot remove the guns from the class III officer’s holsters.
I am grateful to know that students with substance abuse will be referred to treatment. It is in the students’ best interest to be referred to treatment as early as possible to minimize brain damage/heightened addiction process from the use of substances. I am all for early intervention in substance abuse.
I am grateful to know about the aims of community policing and feel that the police officers are positive influences in students’ lives.
I am grateful to know about the process to remove officers from our schools if they are not positive influences.
If a person has a complaint against officer, they can contact the police department’s internal affairs office. Any report will be confidential. It is not a public record. It is confidential for the victim, officer, lieutenant and chief.
I again wish to express my thanks to councilwoman Hamilton and the 100-plus West Windsor and Plainsboro residents who came to speak, especially the students.
— Kani Ilangovan, West Windsor