By Laura Kahn
I can’t stress enough the importance of having Princeton Borough and Township consolidate. Almost two weeks have passed since Hurricane Irene wrecked havoc on our collective community including the tragic loss of life of a heroic EMT, flooding, and power loss. It is important to note that the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad serves both the Borough and Township; imagine the problems that would ensue if two separate first aid and rescue entities only worked within their respective borders. I have studied crisis leadership for almost a decade, and I can’t stress enough the importance of having unified leadership responsible for a community’s safety.
It is downright dangerous having two separate political entities: Princeton Borough is donut-holed within Princeton Township, a difficult arrangement from an emergency management, health, and safety perspective. Hurricanes and microbes do not recognize political borders.
Since 1976, the Princeton Regional Health Commission (PRHC) has been serving the collective community. The PRHC works hard to integrate the directives and budgets from two different governing bodies. Yet, despite the bureaucratic challenges, the PRHC, health officer, contract nurses and HITOPS provided vaccinations in 2009 to the entire Princeton community—not just to the Borough or Township residents—during the H1N1 influenza outbreak. In fact, the Princeton Regional Schools provided space for many of the H1N1 clinics. Responding to a deadly pandemic would be much harder if there were two separate public health entities.
Yet, this is the situation with the police. We have two separate police departments that must communicate and coordinate between two political entities during a crisis. Even worse, our elected officials, the people ultimately responsible for the health and safety of Princeton, are very much split. This cannot and should not continue. Putting the issue of consolidation to a public vote is a good first step in thinking and acting like one community. We are one community and here is our opportunity to prove it.
I urge everyone to vote for consolidation.
Laura Kahn is a resident of Princeton Township and serves on the Princeton Regional Health Commission.
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