Photos: Lakewood Civilian Safety Watch Pays Tribute

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We send our children off to school every day with a prayer on our lips. We pray that they succeed, learn well, make friends and stay safe. With today’s challenges, now more than ever, school security is so very crucial, and public and private schools alike must be given whatever it takes to ensure that every form of hishtadlus is done to keep our most precious commodity – our children – safe when they are at school.

The Lakewood Civilian Safety Watch held a tribute luncheon last Tuesday at Estreia to recognize the efforts of elected officials working tirelessly to secure legislation that would provide desperately needed security grants to private schools.

The annual event is held to pay tribute to individuals and groups who have proven to be partners in LCSW’s mission to keep the streets and neighborhoods of Lakewood safe. The attendees paid tribute to this year’s honorees, Lakewood Police Chief Rob Lawson, Assemblyman Gary Schaer, Senator Bob Singer, Assemblyman Sean Kean and Assemblyman Dave Rible.

The speakers discussed the importance of keeping our children safe.

Yosef Baruch Jacobovitch, Esq., of Burton Schwartz Attorneys at Law, opened the program by explaining the security funding bill that the honorees are advocating to push into law. Currently, public schools in New Jersey are allocated an average of $144 per student for security, while private schools are entitled to $25 per student. The honorees are behind a measure to increase the funding of private school security per student to reach the public school level.

“LCSW is here to complement the entire police department, who work hand in hand and produce great results. That’s why this initiative is so important to LCSW, and why LCSW on behalf of all of Lakewood is grateful to the honorees for pushing this initiative,” Jacobovitch said.

The program continued with remarks from all the honorees and the attending Ocean County Freeholders.

Senator Singer, in his speech, thanked LCSW for its daily accomplishments on behalf of the Lakewood community. Commenting on Chief Lawson, Singer said, “I have known the chief since he was a patrolman and I have seen his rise to police chief of Lakewood, one of the toughest jobs in Ocean County. He’s a hands-on guy who doesn’t merely delegate, as is so prevalent today, but rather gets involved, which is what we need here in Lakewood.”

Assemblyman Gary Schaer, who represents Passaic and is the only frum assemblyman in New Jersey, introduced himself as “the guy with the yarmulka who is not from Lakewood.” Schaer, a Democrat, commented on the bipartisan support that the school security grants have received and implored the audience to use whatever resources they have to convince Governor Christie to pass the bill, so that “every student in New Jersey can go to school safely.”

Assemblyman Sean Kean emphasized the bipartisan nature of the bill, and Assemblyman Rible added that “as parents, we want to know that wherever we send our children to school, be it public or private, they are safe.”

In introducing Chief Lawson, Jacobovitch told a story of an Erev Pesach some years ago, when Rav Shlomo Gissinger found that his shul’s parking lot was a mess, never having been cleaned after that morning’s biur chometz. He called the township office, which was closed that day. Before long, two men showed up with shovels and proceeded to clean the parking lot themselves. Those two men were Chief Lawson and his son.

Chief Lawson commended LCSW for assisting the police on so many levels and for serving as a formidable force in the fight against crime. He referred to the current Township Committee as the best he has ever served with.

Attendees were handed a pamphlet encapsulating 35 years of Chief Lawson’s service to the Lakewood community, from patrolman all the way up to chief.

Mayor Menashe Miller presented plaques to the honorees from Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Kanarek, whose network of seven schools encompasses thousands of students and is uniquely qualified to express appreciation for the efforts to provide grants for the safety and security of all students.

Freeholder Gerry Little, Freeholder Joe Vicari and newly-minted Freeholder Ginny Haines also spoke, affirming the county’s support for Lakewood and praising the volunteerism that makes Lakewood so special.

Freeholder Little concluded the event with heartfelt words, saying, “This is a wonderful community, with everyone working to keep Lakewood Township a great place to live, work and retire. We hope to continue our friendship with Lakewood into the future, and may G-d bless each and every one of us and our families in Ocean County.”

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