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  • Community Corner
    Gary McCartney  

    Dr. Gary P. McCartney
    NJASA President-Elect
    Superintendent of Schools
    South Brunswick School District


    Raymond J. Hayducka
    Police Chief, South Brunswick Township
    President, New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police

  • How Can We Support and Protect
    Our Students and Schools? 

    No one will disagree that the world of today has become a very complex mix of challenges and opportunities. For those of us that work in public service, the challenges and opportunities provide the intersection of choices and pathways for successful problem solving. John D. Rockefeller, in his published creed, expressed that "every right has a corresponding responsibility and every opportunity has an accompanying obligation."

    Against this backdrop, a police chief and a superintendent of schools are easily intertwined in a multitude of overlapping issues that beg for cooperation and collaboration. And so it's been in South Brunswick Township, New Jersey. Not unlike most municipal/school district situations, we often need to talk about safety issues for staff and students, security issues that range from crime to weather and everything between, custody agreements, training opportunities, grant writing, public engagement and budgets. The South Brunswick Township Police Department and the South Brunswick School District work together on a daily basis to represent the best interests of our community.

    Chief Hayducka and I could be the odd couple. He's big and I'm not. He roots for the New York Giants and I root against them (Go Steelers). He's a cola guy and I'm a coffee addict. Fortunately, we've never allowed our differences to define us (maybe during football season). Instead, we have focused on our similarities. In this regard, the Chief designed a regular meeting schedule with a shared agenda. We both bring colleagues appropriate to the agenda topics.  The prevailing philosophy is ALWAYS how can we support and protect our students and schools.

    Over the years, the economic recession has required both organizations to make difficult decisions. One in particular is worthy of amplification here. The SBT Police Department once provided, at municipal cost, seven School Resource Officers (SROs) for the School District. That situation proved to be unsustainable, and over time has become one SRO paid for by the District. Obviously, such a change could have manifested itself into a damaged relationship. But that didn't happen. Chief Hayducka, recognizing the competing interests of budget and police presence, worked around the reduction in manpower by devising a strategy to mitigate the loss. We talked at great length and the outcome was a daily operational procedure that has patrol officers stopping at schools everyday while moving about town. Some days the officers go inside the buildings, some days they do a perimeter inspection and other days they complete reports while parked at the school. With three daily shifts last year alone, the Police Department made over 2000 stops/visits at our schools.

    Well before the advent of the state security drills, the District reached out to the Police Department and asked if any training could be provided to enhance our crisis response training. The Chief immediately gave the "go ahead" to providing Incident Command System Training to our administrative staff.  The training was carried out by officers with tremendous insights of the system and great skills in imparting their knowledge. With staff turnover, we are in the third cohort of training over six years and the relationships have grown deeper through the continued work.

    The South Brunswick Township Police Department has been nationally and state recognized repeatedly through the annual nationwide community outreach National Night Out Program. The program is carried out as a community celebration at a township park. The District provides video coverage of the event complete with personal interviews and editing services. When the Department sends its application for the state and national competition, an outstanding video commemorates the event. The video provides a wonderful opportunity for our Viking Television Network (VTN) students to demonstrate their skills at filming and editing.

    The secret to having any successful partnership is found in the commitment to working hard to make it so. Chief Hayducka and I share the common ideal that our community service should yield dividends for our community and our schools. We cooperate and collaborate to create the best outcomes possible. We are both of the thinking that if the "Odd Couple" can do it, anyone can!