The Toms River Township Council has shifted its in-person meeting scheduled for January 31st to a online-only meeting, as hundreds of residents were preparing to attend in protest of planned cuts to the police department.
The meeting’s agenda includes the second reading and final vote on a contentious ordinance that proposes the elimination of two captains’ positions, a police officer, and the media relations role from the police department’s roster. Mayor Dan Rodrick has defended this move as necessary to fund the addition of eight community service officers, aiming to enhance the town’s response capabilities in medical emergencies.
Both the union representing community service officers statewide and the Fraternal Order of Police have urged people to show up at the meeting in a show of support for the police department, prompting the shift to a Zoom meeting “to ensure the safety of participants and accommodate all voices,” according to Council President Craig Coleman.
However, this doesn’t explain why the Council has not chosen to simply relocate the meeting to a more spacious venue, such as the 1,200-seat capacity Toms River High School North or the RWJ Barnabas Health Arena, which has a capacity of around 3,000.
“They’re ducking and running,” a Toms River resident who had planned to attend the meeting told Lakewood Alerts. “They can’t defend the move, so instead they’re hiding behind a digital wall – just like the cowards in Lakewood.”