FTPD Holds Inaugural ‘Tuesday Night Talk’ On Facebook

FTPD Captains Phil Rizzo and Sean Hebbon, and Public Safety Director Quovella Spruill (clockwise from top left) during the inaugural “Tuesday Night Talk.”

A word to the wise: the FTPD will be paying special attention to speeders on South Middlebush Road and to parked cars facing the wrong way on township streets.

Those items were among the variety of public safety issues discussed December 1 during the Franklin Township Police Department’s inaugural virtual “Tuesday Night Talk.”

Participating in the talk, broadcast via the department’s Facebook page, were FTPD Captains Sean Hebbon and Phil Rizzo, and Public Safety Director Quovella Spruill.

Hebbon said the department hoped to hold at least one of the “talks” a month, starting in January.

One of the issues about which Hebbon said township residents had written in in preparation for the talk was improper parking.

“We span 47 square miles, and we have different residential pockets all over,” he said. “We have a lot of different neighborhood issues and one of the pet peeves of a lot of people is parking on their streets.”

Hebbon said people sometimes park on the wrong side of a street, facing oncoming traffic, which is an ordinance violation.

“We have a lot of people who park the wrong way and that become s a big issue,” he said. “You’re supposed to be parking in the same direction as the flow of traffic, you shouldn’t be parking your car opposite the flow of traffic.”

Hebbon said parking on the wrong side of a street could cause issues such as accidents when pulling out into traffic.

“Our officers are going to be out there, and they are going to be summonsing that violation when they see them,” he said.

Speeding on South Middlebush Road, near Amwell Road, was also an issue brought up by residents, he said.

“There’s an area where residents report seeing multiple spin-outs during rush hours and other times … that particular area is a 25 MPH zone,” he said. “At that speed, you shouldn’t be getting a car spinning out. These roads are designed to be able to maintain that speed.”

“Cars that are losing control at that speed, it’s something that has to be looked into because that tells us that there’s a speed violation going on, or there’s a problem with their tires,” he said.

Hebbon said patrol officers would be paying attention to that section of South Middlebush Road in the future.

A third issue was the practice known as “porch pirating,” in which delivered packages on resident’s porches are pilfered before they can be collected.

“Package thefts go up through the roof during this time of year,” he said. “It’s a problem; it’s not a Franklin problem, it’s not a New Jersey problem, it’s happening all over the country.”

Hebbon said there are locations across the township that act as “Amazon locker hubs,” where packages can be delivered and kept safely.

He also suggested having packages delivered to workplaces, or asking neighbors to receive packages if you know they’re going to be home during the delivery time.

“Those are all common practices that can be used,” Hebbon said. “I strongly recommend that you utilize one of those options to avoid package theft.”

Hebbon also noted that for those making in-person transactions after online sales, there is a “Safe Exchange Zone” in front of the Police Department headquarters where residents can meet to make transactions in a supervised environment.

Hebbon and Spruill also talked about the various community building efforts undertaken by the Community Relations Bureau at 935 Hamilton Street.

The department is holding a toy drive in partnership with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement. There will be a drop-off box for unwrapped toys at the Bureau, which will distribute them to township children, he said.

The CRB is also partnering with a local dentist, Dr. Anna Pollatos, in a coat drive. Coats can be dropped off at Pollatos’s office, 710 Easton Avenue, Suite 1, until December 15, Hebbon said.

The coats will be distributed from December 21-23 on a first-come, first-served basis, he said.

“We’re not done,” Spruill said. “It’s slow, but you know how things are with the quarantine.”

Spruill said the department is also looking to launch a chapter of “My Brother’s Keeper,” a national public service organization founded by former Pres. Barack Obama.

In response to a viewer’s question, Spruill said officers would be taking crisis intervention training when the pandemic lessens.

“It’s been difficult to do because we’re not fully staffed and it’s difficult to send officers to 40-hour training,” she said.

Spruill said that FTPD officers are always training.

“We want officers to be professional,” she said. “We are the only entity that hands over hundreds of thousands of dollars in resources to people, and we don’t train them properly.”

“We are developing that philosophy, as well as a guardian philosophy,” she said. “Our officers know that we are not warriors … we are guardians, and we are here to protect you, so I want to keep that in mind as well.”

Spruill said that township citizens would be invited to participate in future “Tuesday Night Talk” programs.

“We want to have robust discussions about what’s going on,” she said. “We’re up to the challenge. Transparency, absolutely, because we have nothing to hide in the police department.”

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