In the July issue of the WWP News, the chair of the West Windsor Democratic Committee submitted a letter expressing the group’s concern regarding police brutality and racism, while at the same time praising our community for its diversity and tolerance.
The letter however goes on to stipulate that “we need to do better,” and proposes the following recommendations: 1) expanding the Democratic Committee’s membership of African Americans; 2) removing armed officers from the school system; 3) further expanding African American studies in the school curriculum; 4) requiring enhanced sensitivity training for our police, township employees, and elected officials; 5) committing that her group will not patronize local businesses that engage in discriminatory practices; and 6) that her group will be actively “anti-racist.”
While I’m sure we can all agree that no one should have to experience police brutality and/or racial discrimination, perhaps a better approach to the situation would be to take a closer look at a township level and identify any potential problems and the true extent of them before we make recommendations on how to respond.
That would entail an effort to gather some information over a reasonable time period, such as: 1) reports of anyone being denied access within the township to housing, employment, education or services of any kind due to racial discrimination; 2) reports of residents who felt their rights, safety or quality of life in the township were directly impacted as a result of racial discrimination; and 3) reports of serious misconduct by police, township employees or township elected officials that was racially motivated.
I realize that this is a sensitive subject and may be somewhat of a challenge, but without data that can be quantified in some way it is much more difficult to determine what if anything needs to be done. Furthermore we need to exercise care because misunderstandings can also be a factor and greatly complicate things.
From my own personal experience living here for over a decade, I’ve found it to be welcoming, and although I suppose it’s possible I’ve overlooked something, I never got a sense that intolerance was an issue. If it was, I would doubt it would be so attractive to the number of people of diverse backgrounds who continue to move here.
I’ve also never heard any significant complaints about our police, school resource officers, elected officials or township staff, and my overall impression is that they have made every effort and beyond to serve the community well.
When making policy decisions like modifications to the school curriculum, implementing additional sensitivity training programs, and removing well-trained and very capable security professionals from our schools, we need solid reasons for doing so. Our local government has responsibility for example to use resources wisely and control costs.
The cost of these programs plus the aggregated cost of all township employees participating in them can be significant and come at the expense of other critical township priorities that affect us all, so there needs to be clear justification. Instructional time and budgets in the schools also are not unlimited, and must be approached in a similar context and in terms of what will be displaced.
Furthermore, arbitrarily removing security professionals from our schools, who provide a vital service and an effective deterrent in these uncertain times seems to me grounded more in politics than in practicality, and should not be taken lightly.
Lastly, it was hard to avoid noticing that the writer’s first priority was boosting membership in her partisan group. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, as we all have the right to be politically active, but a political recruitment effort just didn’t seem well-placed here. This should be more of a non-partisan issue, and there is a time and place for everything.