Atlantic Highlands Democrats have great respect for the Atlantic Highlands Police Department (AHPD) and appreciate the small-town policing and unity that it promotes. There is too little of that unity in the world today and we all love Atlantic Highlands because of our neighborly community. When we saw the concerning statement from PBA President Adam Gurian that a recent post on the Atlantic Highlands Democratic Club page “...enticed violence towards Law Enforcement Officers,” we removed the post and removed the volunteer who posted it as an administrator of the page. We apologize if it was offensive. Our intention was not to disparage the AHPD. The post was concerned with police use of force nationwide in cases like George Floyd’s that are violations of the public trust.
We regret the lack of nuance in our post, which was intended to highlight issues around police use of force nationally, and was not intended as a comment about our local police. We should not post images without context and we will not do that moving forward. We believe law enforcement officers have a difficult and risky job acting in the public trust to protect us as citizens and respect their judgment and discipline in dispatching their responsibilities. We as a party seek to listen to and understand the needs and feelings of everyone and apologize for not sufficiently considering how this post would feel to our local police.
It is an unfortunate reality that in the United States, black men are 2.6 times more likely to be killed by police compared to white men (Source: October 27, 2020 edition of the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health.) This is a national problem that we have to address everywhere so that all families feel safe. We are very fortunate that we have not faced this concern in our small town and want to continue to work together across the aisle to build and maintain a community where we are all safe and thriving. What we cannot do is ignore the systemic racism that does exist in our country and especially affects BIPOC members of our community.
Interest in the George Floyd case swept the nation and our own residents have been following it closely. We were inspired last year when Chief Rossbach made a public statement on behalf of the AHPD, stating that “...the officers who caused Mr. Floyd's death do not reflect our values and their actions have no place in a modern society.” We agree with this strong statement.
Moving forward, we’d like to initiate a town hall with the residents of Atlantic Highlands, our police administration, and our PBA to directly face the issue that the meme sparked. Thank you, PBA President Gurian, and members of the PBA for holding us accountable.
We are in a fraught time in our country. We understand that some police feel that they are under constant attack right now and that this may be harming morale. We appreciate the opportunity to have an open dialogue here in Atlantic Highlands and welcome the opportunity to discuss morale and concerns at the AHPD and within our community. We fully support the members of the Atlantic Highlands PBA Local #242 and our non-union police department employees.
Atlantic Highlands Democratic Club
Regina Keelen, President
Councilman Roy Dellosso
Councilman Jon Crowley
Councilwoman Lori Hohenleitner