Maplewood Council Responds to Security Breach at Elementary School, Advances Homelessness Strategy and Storm Preparedness

The Maplewood Town Council’s recent meeting tackled community concerns, including homelessness, children’s safety in schools, storm preparedness, and public safety. The council discussed initiatives to combat homelessness through a dedicated Street Outreach and Support Homelessness Intervention provider, emphasizing a housing-first model. School safety was brought to the forefront by a resident’s report of an unauthorized individual on elementary school grounds, prompting the council to consider increased patrols and safety education. The council also reviewed storm readiness and pedestrian safety, including traffic studies and potential traffic light installations.

Dean Dafis and Administrator Patrick Wherry led a conversation on the town’s strategy to address homelessness, a issue exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the eviction crisis. Central to the council’s plan is the rollout of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a dedicated Street Outreach and Support Homelessness Intervention provider. This initiative aims to deploy a housing-first approach, providing the homeless with stable housing without preconditions, thus facilitating access to support services and employment opportunities. Dafis underscored the primary causes of homelessness in New Jersey, notably the loss of shared residences and evictions, while emphasizing the need for peer-to-peer contact to build trust among the chronically homeless population.

In response to increasing concerns about school safety, resident Katherine Klein reported an incident at Clinton Elementary School involving an unauthorized individual who was seen taking photographs of children. Addressing Klein’s concerns, Mayor Nancy Adams proposed additional patrols during vulnerable times when the security guard is off-duty. Additionally, Councilmember Victor De Luca highlighted the importance of reinforcing safety education for students. Deputy Mayor Jamaine Cripe assured prompt action and reinforced the need for a stronger partnership between the Township and School administration to address security concerns.

A traffic light analysis was advocated to prevent future incidents. Additionally, the council reviewed the township’s storm preparedness, with the Department of Public Works’ improved snow removal operations featuring new radios for better communication and adequate salt supplies for upcoming storms.

Chief Albert Sally presented the monthly police report, noting a decrease in robberies and auto thefts due to increased police presence and detective bureau efforts. However, the challenge of catalytic converter thefts remained, with the council suggesting enhanced lighting and surveillance cameras as potential deterrents. Concerns about anti-Semitism and Islamophobia were also addressed, in light of a student walkout for ceasefire at the high school. Sally detailed the department’s strategy to maintain safety during the event.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Nancy Adams
City Council Officials:
Jamaine Cripe, Victor De Luca, Deborah Engel, Dean Dafis

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