By Steve Sears
When the calendar turned to 2019, Long Valley received a very special, belated Christmas gift. In a special study done by the National Council for Home Safety and Security, the township had been named New Jersey’s third safest for 2019.
Matthew Murello, Mayor of Washington Township since the new year, who was also an elected Committeeman since 2015 and served as Vice-Mayor from 2017 to 2018, expresses his pride in the achievement. “We have been the safest town in New Jersey for the last 2 years and the 3rd safest this year.” 45 crimes were committed in Long Valley in 2018, a very low number. “Much of the credit for that goes directly to the members of the Washington Township Police Department and Chief (Jeffrey) Almer. We are also a township that has 40% of our approximately 45 square miles of space preserved open space and farmland, and we are the 2nd largest municipality in Morris County, but have one of the lowest densities of population. We have many families that have been here for generations and we all take tremendous pride in the town.”
“I was very pleased. We are a unique profession where the better we do our job, the lower the numbers are, so I believe this shows that our presence and productivity is paying off for Washington Township,” says Almer, Washington Township Chief of Police for almost 3 ½ years, echoing the Mayor’s feelings. “I always give credit to my officers, as we do all we can to stay active and be constantly out patrolling and keeping an eye on the community. 4 years ago, we averaged around 30,000 activity logs per year (these range from self-initiated activity to calls for service). In 2018 we had nearly 70,000, so we are working hard to make our presence known and working hard to be part of the community. The second part is the community itself and the way they look out for Washington Township and each other. We cannot be everywhere all the time, but residents in town keep an eye out and keep us informed. This tight knit community, even in one our size, contributes to the overall safety of the area.”
“I attribute that to the community itself. People in town believe in Washington Township and take care of it and each other. We have a wonderful community as well as great local officials who put the town first.”
Murello then adds, “I would have been more surprised if we were not one of the safest towns in NJ. We expect to be on that list year after year and take great pride in the safety and security we enjoy in Washington Township.”
Almer says that police work is a calling, “one that I have a passion for. My officers and I enjoy our jobs and are proud to be on the force here in Washington Township. We are fortunate to have a community that supports us and wants us to do our job. Besides for all the officers being highly trained, we strive to be professional and caring. This has helped us to have a strong trusting relationship with the people of our town.” He then returns the gratitude that the township shows he and the force. “I always want to thank the community and the township for their ongoing support of the department. We will always do our best to protect and serve everyone in town, keeping the bad things away. And should something ever happen, we are trained and ready to handle it.”