Police, emergency responders and township employees faced the terrifying possibility of an active shooter inside Township Hall as part of a planned training exercise.
Reporting on the June 28 drill at the most recent Township Committee meeting Monday, July 9, township Administrator Scott Morgan described it as a success, giving township staff a chance to respond to the situation, including using the established emergency response plan.
A retired state trooper acted as the bad guy, as Morgan put it, using simulated gunfire so the drill would be as realistic as possible. State Police troopers from the Woodbine barracks were on hand for the drill, as were members of the Ocean City police and representatives of the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office. There were also volunteers from the Community Emergency Response Team at the scene, Morgan said.
He told Township Committee township employees said they learned valuable lessons. The response was also critiqued by experts, Morgan said.
“They came up with some fantastic ideas, which over the next several months we’ll be implementing,” Morgan said.
Committee OKs purchase of computer-aided dispatch backup system
Township Committee unanimously approved a resolution Monday, July 9, to spend $34,500 on a computer-aided dispatch backup center through a state contract.
The township’s emergency dispatch is handled through Ocean City under a shared service contract. But the township needs to be ready with computer aided dispatch, or CAD, in case Ocean City needs to be evacuated, he said.
“Part of that contract is that we are the backup for Ocean City if something happened,” township administrator Scott Morgan told committee members. “One requirement is to have CAD program here to facilitate coming over to Upper Township should the need occur.”
He cited a hurricane or other major storm that could require emergency services to move off the barrier islands. Mayor Richard Palombo said the dispatch system was not moved during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but a staging center was set up in a township school for Hurricane Irene the year before. That storm had relatively little impact in the county.
Morgan said the new system will also work with a regionalized county dispatch system. In the spring, Cape May County launched a centralized dispatch center in the Lower Township Public Safety Building at the Cape May Airport. The emergency management offices had formerly been in the basement of the main branch of the Cape May County Library in Cape May Court House.
Honors for scout, safety
Township Committee recognized Andrew Holloway of Boy Scout Troop 79 of Ocean View for earning the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest level in scouting.
In addition to moving up through the ranks and earning merit badges, a scout must complete a public service project to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. For his Eagle project, Holloway designed and completed a gazebo on property in Lower Township owned by Family Promise, an organization that helps homeless families.
At the same meeting, the township governing body recognized four Ocean City High School students who live in the township. Alexa Johnson, Ali Martin, Jacob Schneider and Zach Card created bike safety announcements through the school’s TV/Media Production program. The Ocean City police union, PBA Local 61, and the advocacy group BikeOCNJ created a contest to give scholarships to those who created public service announcements encouraging bike safety.
Schneider and Card created a PSA on obeying traffic signs while Johnson and Martin chose “why you shouldn’t ride on the sidewalk,” according to the township resolution approved in their honor.