WESTAMPTION, BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ–As part of the regular contact investigation undertaken by the Communicable Disease staff at Burlington County Health Department, it was determined that a patient traveled to multiple locations throughout the county before testing positive for Coronavirus disease. We are making this announcement so that individuals who have visited these locations can be more alert for symptoms consistent with Coronavirus disease.
March 06, 2020 from 9pm – 10pm 1 Republik (formerly Molly McGuire) 26 Ridge Road, North Arlington
March 07, 2020 from 8pm-9:30pm Wildflowers Too Restaurant 255 NJ-156, Yardville
March 08, 2020 from 12:30pm-9:30pm Springfield Golf Center, 855 Hedding Jacksonville Road, Mount Holly
March 08, 2020 from 9:30pm – close Chesterfield Inn, 633 Chesterfield Arnerytown Road, Chesterfield
March 09, 2020 from 8:00am – 10:00pm Winners Training Center, White Pine Road, Mount Holly
March 09, 2020 from 10:00pm-10:30pm Rite Aid – 546 Sykesville Rd, Wrightstown
March 10, 2020 from 7:30am-10:00am Winners Training Center, White Pine Road, Mount Holly
If you believe you were exposed and are experiencing mild symptoms and are medically stable, you can remain at home but must self-isolate until you have been fever free for 72 hours. This includes isolation from other people in your household. If you are experiencing more severe systems or need further medical evaluation, please contact your primary care physician or emergency room. Do NOT arrive unannounced. If you are need of urgent medical care, please call 9-1-1 and let them know you were exposed to coronavirus so that medical can take the appropriate precautions.
The Princeton Health Department (PHD) announces the municipality’s first positive case of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). The resident is a 49-year-old female who attended the private party with two individuals from the Boston area who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.
The resident began experiencing mild illness on March 3, 2020. She reported attending two events after her symptoms began. The first event took place in Staten Island on March 7 at a dance festival. The second event was a meeting at the Princeton Medical Center on March 9. She has been isolating at home starting the evening of March 9. We have contacted the event coordinators for both locations to further identify any possible exposure. The Health Department was notified of presumptive positive results for this individual from the New Jersey Department of Health’s Public Environmental Health Laboratory today, March 13, 2020, and is awaiting confirmatory results from the CDC.
Princeton Health Department was notified of the February 29 party and potential exposure to coronavirus the evening of March 9. Since that notification, all individuals attending that party have been instructed to stay home as if they tested positive. With a presumed positive result, the health department is now empowered to impose stricter limits to the close contacts of this individual.
As more cases are observed throughout New Jersey, we are urging people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and the elderly to practice social distancing by avoiding non-essential travel, public events, community gatherings, and indoor venues. Everyone and every organization has to do their part to help slow the spread of this virus.
Individuals can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses such as COVID-2019 and other diseases by practicing basic infection control on a daily basis.
Stay home when you are sick.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
Facemasks are most effective when used appropriately by health care workers and those directly caring for people who are sick and by people who are sick (source control).
Get a flu immunization if you have not done so this season.
Testing for coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)
Testing is available through your healthcare provider. Please contact them to discuss if you should be tested. Your healthcare provider will review your specific symptoms and make the clinical decisions as to whether to order the test. Princeton Health Department does not do the testing and does not provide primary care which is an important part of your need to be evaluated, treated and tested.
If you have questions, please call the clinic or your doctor before going in. If you are symptomatic, stay home and separate yourself from others, avoid public areas and avoid public transportation.
For questions about coronavirus, the New Jersey Department of Health has a COVID-19 Hotline, 24/7, at 1-800-222-1222. The Princeton Health Department can be reached at (609)497-7608 for additional information.
Mercer County, NJ Update on COVID-19
Mercer County’s first presumptive positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) was announced today by state officials and the Princeton Health Department, which is conducting the investigation. State officials report that there are now 50 presumptive positive cases statewide.
“This news was not surprising,” Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes said. “Most counties in New Jersey are now seeing presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, and we need to be prepared for more such cases in Mercer County. But there are steps we all can take to lower the risk of infection.”
Gov. Phil Murphy emphasized during a press conference today that social distancing, which includes maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others when possible and avoiding crowded public places, can help stop the spread of COVID-19. On Thursday, Mr. Hughes joined Gov. Murphy in recommending the cancellation of all scheduled public gatherings of more than 250 people, including concerts, parades and events. And Mr. Hughes continues to urge everyone to take everyday preventive actions, such as frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you’re sick, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.
FREEHOLD AND MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Due to the cancellation of group activities on the local, state and national levels, all Millstone Township recreational programs, both travel and non-travel, adult and youth programs, have been suspended through Sunday, April 5th 2020. This includes games, practices and events. Further evaluation will be made in early April regarding lifting or extending this suspension.
Monmouth County takes action in response to COVID-19
Beginning Saturday, March 14, no public access to County buildings
FREEHOLD, NJ –The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and County officials are taking action out of an abundance of caution to protect and keep residents safe from the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). “Our number one priority is the safety of our residents and so, at this time, we have decided to take immediate actions to prevent the COVID-19 in Monmouth County libraries, parks and public buildings,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone. “In attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, Monmouth County will be suspending all public building access and programs beginning tomorrow.” “We want to remind residents to remain calm and make sure you have the most accurate and up to date information, which you can get from the Centers of Disease Control or the New Jersey Department of Health. Please help us spread facts, not fear,” added Freeholder Director Arnone. Beginning Saturday, March 14, and through Sunday, March 22, all Monmouth County Library branches and the Monmouth County Park System buildings will be closed to the public. County golf courses and park spaces will remain open. Beginning Monday, March 16, public access will be restricted from all buildings with the exception of the Monmouth County Division of Social Services (MCDSS). For MCDSS, protections will be put into place to ensure that there is no physical contact between Monmouth County employees and the residents seeking services. All Monmouth County employees will report to work and be available to residents by phone and by email. “We understand that the COVID-19 situation is unsettling for some and want to arm our residents with the information they need,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley, liaison to the Monmouth County Department of Health and Human Services. “There is a Monmouth County Health Department’s phone bank will open Monday at 9 a.m. for residents who have any questions and concerns about COVID-19, or need to talk to someone about how this situation is affecting them.” Crisis Counselors from the Monmouth County Division of Behavioral Health are available through the phone banks to help residents who may be experiencing stress or anxiety due to the evolving situation. The counselors will provide County residents with guidance to help them through this challenging time. The Monmouth County Health Department phone bank will open Monday, March 16 at 9 a.m. and can be reached at 732-845-2070.
County officials monitoring Coronavirus situation in Monmouth County
FREEHOLD, NJ –With four presumptive positive cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Monmouth County, County officials are assuring residents that they are monitoring the situation and taking action to ensure the public health and safety of Monmouth County residents. Two of the presumptive positive cases include a 66 year old female from Hazlet and an 83 year old female from Hazlet who are both being treated at Hackensack Meridian Health Bayshore Medical Center. The Golden Age Adult Day Care Program, where both of these individuals were clients, has voluntarily closed and is working in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Health and the Monmouth County Health Department. The two other cases include a 27 year old male from Little Silver who recently attended the Biogen conference in Boston and a 17 year old female from Little Silver who is an immediate family member of the 27 year old male. “We continue to assure you that the freeholder board is actively engaged and in constant contact with the local mayors and the New Jersey Legislative Delegation as well as the New Jersey Governor’s Office and the New Jersey Department of Health,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone. “We are committed to ensuring that the County has the necessary resources to respond and mitigate this evolving situation.” “All Monmouth County and municipal health officials are following guidelines set forth by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) the Governor’s State of Emergency Declaration and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) for response to COVID-19 cases,” added Freeholder Director Arnone. All Monmouth County and municipal health officials are following the guidelines set forth by the CDC and the NJDOH for monitoring and response to COVID-19 cases. The best defense against the Coronavirus is to practice safe respiratory hygiene and take steps to prevent the spread of germs including washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick. However, residents should be aware that as investigations into these four cases continue, additional cases may be identified. “Again we would like to reiterate that it is important to have factual, up to date information about the coronavirus,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Kiley. “If you have questions, go directly to the CDC, the New Jersey Department of Health or the Monmouth County Health Department.” There have been social media reports of individuals going door to door claiming to be from the CDC. The CDC is not deploying teams of people to go door to door and conduct surveillance, so people should not let these individuals in their homes or speak with them. The CDC has a “share the facts, stop fear” page which is quite useful in determining what is fact vs. fiction with regard to the coronavirus. It can be accessed at cdc.gov/coronavirus. Timely and accurate information can also be found at http://www.nj.gov/health and anyone with questions can call the NJDOH COVID-19 24-Hour Public Hotline 1-800-222-1222 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Links to the CDC and New Jersey Department of Health are currently posted to the Monmouth County Health Department webpage, http://www.visitmonmouth.com/health.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–The March 13, 2020 update on COVID-19 coronavirus from Hamilton Township:
As of 5:00 PM, there are no known COVID-19 (coronavirus cases reported in Hamilton Township. Earlier today the Hamilton Township School District announced that beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020, students will no longer report to their school buildings, rather they will be provided their education in their home setting. HTSD expects this remote learning plan to be in effect for a minimum of two weeks (through March 27, 2020). Please find a copy of the HTSD remote learning plan letter from Dr. Rocco here. and here
If your organization is canceling or postponing a bingo or raffle event due to COVID-19, please be advised that an amendment form is required in order to effectuate the change. Contact the Municipal Clerk’s Office at 609-890-3620 to obtain the necessary form and instructions on how process your amendment.
Message from the Hamilton Township Council
In response to the ongoing public health crisis, the Hamilton Township Council will be adopting the following measures to protect the public at the upcoming Council meeting on March 17, 2020. We are making additional options for public participation in our meeting available to you. While everyone is still welcome to attend our Council meeting Tuesday, residents are strongly encouraged to stay home and attend the meeting and comment to Council via a special telephone conference call. Anyone wishing to make a statement on a specific agenda item may do so by phone or in person. For those that want to stay home, we will be making full participation in the meeting available via telephone conference.
Council will be limiting agenda items to those actions which required public notice or those of a time-sensitive nature. Other actions will be postponed. The Board of Health meeting will be postponed. The Director of Health will post a message (or messages) with updates until such time as we are able to reschedule the Board of Health meeting. Any members of the public wishing to attend this meeting will be asked to present valid ID. We will record the name, address and phone number of anyone attending in person so that we can contact everyone in the event of a COVID-19 infection related to this meeting. More details, including call-in information will follow.
3/17/20 Start Time 6:00 PM End Time 7:00 PM Title Assunpink Creek Dam No. 8 Public Meeting Location Abbott Commons Club House Extra Details Out of an abundance of caution this meeting has been postponed to a date to be determined.
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)—The 2020 Census count is underway and I received my invitation by mail today. As per the instructions I logged onto My2020census.gov and entered my code Census ID Code. There were some very basic questions of who was living in the home and birthdays. It was one of the easiest census forms I have ever completed and took less than two minutes to complete from start to finish, even though it says it could take an average of 10 minutes to complete.
The Census is counted every 10 years and many things from voting districts, financial aid, Federal, State and Local government services and more use this government data. A response is required by law and should be very easy to complete if you have received the invitation from United States Census Bureau.
What is the 2020 Census?The goal of the census is to count every person living in the United States, once, only once and in the right place. Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution mandates that this population and housing count occur every 10 years. Census data guide how more than $675 billion of federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year.
Am I required to respond to the 2020 Census?Yes, you are required by law to respond to the 2020 Census (Title 13, U.S. Code, Sections 141 and 193). We are conducting the 2020 Census under the authority of Title 13, U.S. Code, Sections 141, 193 and 221. This collection of information has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The eight-digit OMB approval number is 0607-1006. If this number were not displayed, we could not conduct the census.
Who should complete the 2020 Census questionnaire?This 2020 Census questionnaire should be completed by the person who owns or rents the living quarters or any other person who is at least 15 years of age with knowledge of the household.
How do I change my answers?For questions where you must choose a single response from a list, clicking another response will change your answer to that response.If it is a “select all that apply” question, you may click on a selected check box to unselect the box and remove it as one of your answers.
How long will the 2020 Census questionnaire take?The Census Bureau estimates that completing the questionnaire will take 10 minutes on average.
How will the Census Bureau use the information I provide?By law, the Census Bureau can only use your responses to produce statistics.
Will the results be published?Yes. By law, the Census Bureau can only use your responses to produce statistics. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in a way that could identify you or your household. The Census Bureau plans to make results of this study available to the general public. Results will be presented in aggregate form and no personally identifiable information will be published.Information quality is an integral part of the pre-dissemination review of the information disseminated by the Census Bureau (fully described in the Census Bureau’s Information Quality Guidelines at https://www.census.gov/about/policies/quality/guidelines.html). Information quality is also integral to the information collection conducted by the Census Bureau and is incorporated into the clearance process by the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Do I have to complete the 2020 Census questionnaire for my household members?Yes, you will be asked to provide information for each household member.
Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, the Upper Freehold Regional School District will close its buildings to students and non-essential personnel and will activate at-home/virtual learning for instruction. This was a multi-faceted decision made in consultation with the Monmouth County Health Officer and Monmouth County Executive Superintendent. Additionally, we have worked in collaboration with Dr. Huss from the Millstone Township Schools. The decision is based upon growing research indicating that social distancing is an effective strategy that currently impacts the eventual spread of COVID-19. Therefore, the best time to close schools is before this spread happens.
This decision did not come lightly, but we felt compelled to do everything we can to fight any community spread that may occur. This decision was made for the safety of our kids, staff and communities. We know that this will be challenging for our families and for our staff. Although we do not have a confirmed case yet, if we wait until one is identified it will be too late to stop the spread of this highly contagious virus. Additionally, it is becoming increasingly difficult to track the degrees of separation between positive cases in NJ and our residents.
Beginning Monday, March 16th, our at-home and virtual learning plan will begin. All home learning will be done on a half day schedule, which will give students and staff the afternoons to do what they need to do for school.
By their very nature, public schools are designed for active and collaborative learning with many opportunities for social interaction. Our at-home and virtual learning plans will certainly not be equal to face-to-face instruction, but we will do our best to continue the education of our kids. From Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020 we will provide at-home/virtual learning. During this time, we will continually be assessing whether or not to reopen school on March 30, 2020. This decision will be made based upon the recommendations of health department officials and in collaboration with Dr. Huss. Please note that remote learning days will fulfill the 180 day requirement under N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-9. According to several sources, closing schools is a proven measure to slow the spread of the disease and, in turn, to keep more students, staff, and families healthy and safe. We know we cannot fully replace the live classroom experiences that organically occur with teacher-student interactions and connections. We also know that we are charting unexplored territory as we implement remote learning for our students. How we implement this plan will continually evolve as we have more experience with it.
This closure will include the cancellation or postponement of all after-school, evening, and weekend activities. All facility use events and rental activities will be cancelled as well.
Please know we are here for you and will navigate this together! Right now, buildings will remain open with some essential staff which will allow us to carry on with the “business” end of school. We will also be available to answer questions you may have.
The UFRSD and our food service vendor, Chartwells, have planned for daily lunch for participants of the free and reduced lunch program throughout these remote learning school days. A separate letter will be sent to the parents of program participants.
Principals of each building will send out a follow up letter outlining staff responsibilities and providing details for the learning plan for the next few weeks. I will continue to communicate with you throughout this process.
As I have said, this is a fluid situation that will be constantly evolving. We will do everything to continue to communicate with you and support you in any way. We look forward to getting back to school at some point in the near future. I have never been prouder to work in the UFRSD.
March 13, 2020 Dear Hamilton Township School Community,
We realize that this is a challenging time for each of you and for our students. We appreciate the seriousness of concern surrounding COVID-19 “Coronavirus.” Most importantly, we understand our responsibility to ensure the safety, security, and well-being of our students, staff, and community stakeholders.
After careful consultation as a senior staff and in coordination with local, county and state governmental officials and health authorities at this time, we are announcing our plan to pause our current method of instruction and move to our remote learning plan. As such, beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, students will no longer report to their school buildings, rather they will be provided their education in their home setting. We expect this remote learning plan to be in effect for a minimum of two weeks (through March 27th, 2020).
During this time, we will remain in constant communication with our entire school community through multiple platforms including our district website, social media pages, school messenger phone system, email etc. During the second week of remote learning, we will reevaluate the situation, communicate with local, county, and state officials, and then determine if the remote learning timeline needs to be extended beyond this timeframe.
As a district, we have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to prepare for this possibility. Our remote learning plan consists of a mixture of on-line learning opportunities for our students who have Internet access with use of a compatible device (available via teacher webpage), along with a series of traditional learning activities consisting of books, instructional packets, supplementary handouts, and other resources, etc. for our students who do not have either Internet access and/or a compatible device (instructions provided by teacher). Our goal within this plan is to provide equitable access for all students while at home during this time.
School Services Our teaching staff will be available to consult and converse with students and families during the school day as needed. Additionally, our buildings will remain open, for faculty and staff only. Our school building administrators, office personnel and supervisors will be coordinating with staff and will be available via phone or email to address any questions and concerns. Our custodial staff will be in our buildings continuing to carry out our “enhanced” cleaning protocols. Finally, all of our District-level offices (curriculum, human resources, student services & programs, education, and business) will be open and staffed during this period to assist our students in any way possible.
Food Services In an effort to provide continuity for our students and mitigate some of the challenges associated with this plan, we have worked with our food service provider to make breakfast and lunch available for those in our school community who need it. We have set the following sites up for food service pick-up (Hamilton High School West, HHS North, HHS East, Sunnybrae Elementary, Kuser Elementary, and Wilson Elementary).
Building a Better Tomorrow … Together Our goal is to offer those in our community who need it, 5 days’ worth of food one time per week. The sites will be open on Tuesday, March 17th and then again on Tuesday, March 24th between the hours of 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. More information will be provided on our website.
Athletics/Events All district athletic programs will be suspended/postponed during this period of time. The district athletic directors will work in coordination with the NJSIAA to develop a plan moving forward upon our return to school. As stated in the March 12, 2020 communication, all other school events/activities have been suspended/postponed and our administrators will be working to reschedule these events where possible upon our return. Kindergarten Registration at several elementary schools (Sayen, Wilson, Kuser, Langtree, Robinson, Lalor & Mercerville) will be affected and postponed. Additional information will be provided at a later time.
Attendance Student attendance will be reconciled upon our return to school. We will be using the work completed by our students during the remote learning period to demonstrate their “attendance” to the task and receive credit for the day(s).
We encourage you to:
• Visit our HTSD website for updates; • Visit our Coronavirus updates website • Follow our Social Media feeds for information; facebook, twitter, instagram • Update your contact information on the School Messenger and Parent Portal systems. If you have not already completed the HTSD Back To School Portal, please make sure to do so by following the directions here. We highly recommend that all parents/guardians provide their email and opt-in for district text updates
There is no responsibility we take more seriously than ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and the Hamilton Township community. We realize the impact of this decision on our students and families, but we are confident that it is the right decision at this time.
Again, we will continue to provide timely updates throughout this remote learning period. Please feel free to contact your school by phone or email for further questions or concerns once our remote learning plan starts.
Finally, I am fully confident that our entire school district will continue to support our students and school community during this difficult time. I thank you for your continued support. Sincerely, Scott R. Rocco Scott R. Rocco, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools
Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, the Robbinsville Public School District will shut down its physical plant and activate remote/virtual learning for instruction. This was a multi-faceted decision made in collaboration with the County Health Officer and Mercer County Superintendents and based upon growing research indicating that social distancing is the only strategy that currently impacts the eventual spread of COVID-19. Therefore, the best time to close schools is before this spread happens. We know that this will be challenging for our families and for our staff. What has kept me up over the past few nights is recognizing the furious pace that this virus can spread. In good conscience, we feel a responsibility to try to mitigate the growing number of presumptive and potential official cases of the Coronavirus. Although we do not have a confirmed case yet, if we wait until one is identified it will be too late to stop the spread of this highly contagious virus. By their very nature, public schools are designed for active and collaborative learning with many opportunities for social interaction. However, we believe that it is essential to take a proactive and precautionary approach to reduce risk for our students and staff by closing schools beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, April 3, 2020 to provide remote/virtual learning. During spring break (April 6-13) we will assess whether or not to reopen school on April 14th based upon the recommendations of health department officials. Please note that remote learning days will fulfill the 180 day requirement under N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-9. According to several sources, closing schools is a proven measure to slow the spread of the disease and, in turn, to keep more students, staff, and families healthy and safe. Some of our parents have already made the choice to keep their children home because they or family members have a compromised immune system or chronic health concerns. The rate of absenteeism will only grow as new cases are identified. The districts of Montgomery, West Windsor- Plainsboro, and Princeton, Hopewell, and Lawrence plan to activate remote learning as well. Additionally. we know many businesses have moved to social isolation and are allowing staff to work from home. Therefore, on Monday, March 16th we will shut down all school facilities and move to virtual / remote learning. This will include the cancellation or postponement of all after-school, evening, and weekend activities. All facility use events and rental activities will be cancelled as well. And as a reminder, the Robbinsville Extended Day program will also be closed. Families of students in RED will receive credit for days missed due to this mandated closure. We know we cannot fully replace the live classroom experiences that organically occur with teacher-student interactions and connections. We also know that we are charting unexplored territory as we implement remote learning for our students. However, we are hopeful that this experience will help all of us appreciate the expanded possibilities for students to hone their Rville Ready skills. Please know we are here for you and will navigate this together! Right now, buildings will remain open with some essential staff which will allow us to carry on with the “business” end of school. We will also be available to answer questions you may have. If for some reason, you need to come to the building to pick up materials and resources, we will be happy to help. Office hours for each building will be posted on the district website. The Robbinsville Public School District is working closely with Aramark, our food service vendor, to devise a plan for daily lunch delivery to participants of the free and reduced lunch program throughout these remote learning school days. A separate letter will be sent to the parents of program participants. Dr. Tew will send out a follow up letter outlining staff responsibilities and providing details for the learning plan for the next few weeks. I will continue to communicate with you throughout this process. Finally, we will keep you apprised of our plans for the March 18th preliminary budget hearing as we receive guidance. Time and again, you have heard me speak about our sacred work as a vocation of love. Please know that we are making this decision out of love for the safety and health of our students, families, and community. With gratitude, Kathie Foster, Superintendent
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) has completed its investigation into the August 21, 2017 use of force by a sergeant of the Trenton Police Department, and has concluded that the use of force was legally justified. The MCPO determined that it is not necessary to present this matter to the grand jury because there were no material facts in dispute regarding the lawfulness of the use of force. The investigation was conducted in accordance with the Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor Directive (July 28, 2015, Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive Regarding Uniform Statewide Procedures and Best Practices for Conducting Police Use of Force Investigations) (“directive”). Pursuant to the directive, the Attorney General’s Office conducted an independent review of the use of force and agreed with the MCPO’s determination that there were no material facts in dispute and that the use of force by the officer in this case was justified. The Attorney General’s Office concurred with the MCPO’s conclusion to forego presentation of this matter to the grand jury.
On August 21, 2017, at approximately 11:10 p.m., members of the Mercer County Homicide Task Force (HTF) were activated to investigate this incident involving a sergeant of the Trenton Police Department (TPD). The investigation, which encompassed statements of officers and witnesses, ShotSpotter gunfire detection data, body-worn camera and other video footage, and physical evidence, revealed the following facts:
On August 21, 2017, at approximately 9:56 p.m., the sergeant was on his meal break during the 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift, in uniform marked with TPD insignia, with his department-issued firearm and badge on his waist on his right side. He was using his personal vehicle for the purpose of going home to take his meal break and did not have a portable police radio in his possession. While traveling northwest on Southard Street near the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, the sergeant heard several gunshots. He lowered his vehicle’s windows to see if he could determine where the gunshots were coming from and proceeded to the intersection of Southard New Willow streets, which is the entrance to the Donnelly Homes Public Housing Project. The sergeant brought his vehicle to a stop in front of the intersection and saw two suspects running out of the housing project with masks covering their faces. One suspect was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and the other was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt. As the suspects ran toward Southard Street, the suspect wearing the red hooded sweatshirt turned and fired two shots back into the housing project. When the suspects reached the corner of Southard and New Willow streets, the suspect wearing the black hooded sweatshirt turned, faced the sergeant, and pointed a handgun in his direction. Both suspects then entered a waiting dark-colored sedan that was parked on the other side of the intersection, in front of the sergeant’s vehicle. The dark-colored sedan immediately drove northwest on Southard Street, in the direction of Calhoun Street, and the sergeant followed. Utilizing his cellular phone, the sergeant called Trenton police dispatch to let them know what he saw.
The sergeant was able to follow the suspect vehicle as it travelled through Trenton to the intersection of Kulp and Summit avenues, facing Arlington Avenue, where the vehicle parked. The sergeant brought his vehicle to a stop facing the suspect vehicle. Three males exited the suspect vehicle and two of the males fired at the sergeant, who was still in his personal vehicle, but stopped on Kulp Avenue. One of the males that fired was wearing a denim jacket and the other male that fired was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. The sergeant returned fire using his vehicle’s door as cover. The suspects fired additional rounds at the sergeant, then stopped firing and all three suspects fled on foot. The sergeant got back into his vehicle and drove down Summit Avenue in the suspects’ direction of travel, but he was unable to locate them. He remained on his personal phone with Trenton dispatch for the duration of his encounter with the suspects, reported that the suspects had fired at him, and then provided a description of all three, identifying them all as black males with one wearing a red “hoodie,” one with a black “hoodie” and the third wearing a denim jacket.
At approximately 10:01 p.m., Trenton police responded to the area of Kulp Avenue on a report of an officer-involved shooting. The sergeant drove to the intersection of Coolidge and Pennington avenues, where he was located by another sergeant. The sergeant entered the police vehicle and used the police radio to broadcast the descriptions of the suspects. He then directed the other sergeant to the suspect vehicle, later identified as a 1996 Nissan Maxima with temporary Pennsylvania registration, which remained parked near the intersection of Summit and Kulp avenues.
The sergeant was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for medical evaluation. He was not injured during the incident. At the hospital, the sergeant’s firearm was secured and later transferred to detectives with the New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Unit. An examination of the firearm and the ammunition revealed that the sergeant fired a minimum of seven rounds during the encounter.
Because of the original report of shots fired at Donnelly Home Public Housing Projects, several Trenton patrol units responded to that location but were diverted while responding to the dispatch reports that the sergeant had pursued the suspects and exchanged fire with them. As patrol units turned onto Arlington Avenue from Pennington Avenue, they saw two black males, later identified as Tommy S. Allen and Darryl Milton, walking on Arlington Avenue. Three Trenton officers stopped and detained Allen and Milton. This stop occurred approximately 10 minutes after the initial report of shots fired at Donnelly Homes Public Housing Project and was about 100 yards away from where the sergeant last saw the fleeing suspects.
The encounter with Allen and Milton on Arlington Avenue was captured on the body-worn cameras utilized by the three police officers. Both suspects were frisked but had no weapons on them. Because the involved sergeant was no longer on scene to attempt an identification, Milton was released from the scene and Allen, who had active warrants, was arrested and transported to Trenton police headquarters. A subsequent comparison of the body-worn camera footage depicting Allen and Milton, and Trenton city cameras located at the entrance to Donnelly Homes Public Housing Project, revealed that the clothing worn by the suspects in the surveillance footage was consistent with that worn by Allen and Milton as depicted in the body-worn camera footage.
MCHTF detectives responded to both the Donnelly Homes scene and the officer-involved shooting scene at Kulp and Summit avenues. Trenton police and the Mercer County Shooting Response Team responded to the Donnelly Homes Public Housing Project to conduct an investigation into the shooting at that location. During their response to the area of Pennington and Coolidge avenues, police learned that a gunshot victim, later identified as J.H., had been transported via private vehicle to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. The TPD Crime Scene Investigations Unit also responded to Donnelly Homes and processed the scene. The New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Unit responded to Kulp and Summit avenues and processed that scene.
The ShotSpotter gunfire detection system captured 20 gunshots fired near the entrance of the Donnelly Homes Public Housing Project where the sergeant first observed the suspects as they fled after shooting back into the parking area. The ShotSpotter system also captured 11 gunshots fired near the scene on Kulp Avenue.
In conformance with TPD policy, a blood draw was conducted on the sergeant. The blood analysis was negative for ethyl alcohol and impairing drugs at the time of this incident.
As a result of the investigation, both Allen and Milton were charged in connection with the shooting of J.H. at the Donnelly Homes Public Housing Project. Both pleaded guilty to second-degree aggravated assault on February 6, 2019, and are pending sentencing.
Applying the directive to the undisputed material facts outlined above, the use of force by the sergeant was justified pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:3-4, Use of Force in Self-Protection. The statute states that “the use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.” The law defines a “reasonable belief” as one which would be held by a person of ordinary prudence and intelligence situated as the actor was.
The sergeant believed that discharging his weapon was necessary for the protection of his life. An independent analysis of the undisputed material facts led to the determination that the sergeant’s beliefs were reasonable, and the use of force in this matter was justified pursuant to all applicable laws and the Attorney General Guidelines. This statement was prepared and disseminated to the public in accordance with §8 of the directive.