‘Operation Lockbox’ in 60 Towns: NJ Residents Give Police a Key to Their House
Some New Jersey police departments call it “Operation Lockbox.” Others refer to it as “Operation Blue Angel.”
Either way, the genesis of the program, which has been in existence for the last three or four years, is to have the ability to improve community policing in New Jersey and to increase the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens, said Tom Dellane, president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.
The free program is typically for residents age 60 and older, for those who live alone or who are going to be alone for long periods of time during the day, or for those with a medical condition who need immediate police department assistance.
“You would voluntarily give the police department a key to your house which we would put in a secured lockbox on the front of your house,” Dellane said.
Only police have access to this box.
This would allow police easier access into the house and get the person the necessary medical help at a much quicker pace.
“Typically when we come across emergency situations, mostly medical situations where we don’t have access to the residence, we do need to either break the door or break the window to get in,” Dellane said.
This program gives officers the ability to gain entry access quicker and do no damage in the process.
While he is not sure which police municipality was the first to have “Operation Lockbox,” Dellane said programs like this usually start because an officer had an interaction with a resident and hit a roadblock that precluded him or her from gaining timely access to a residence.
Police then strategize to prevent this from happening again.
“We’re always looking in law enforcement to do better by our residents to improve the delivery of services, and this is just one of the ways we’re trying to help out,” he said.
More than 60 police municipalities in the state currently are taking part in the program, which continues to expand on an annual basis, Dellane said.
It has been a very well-received program with a lot of positive feedback from residents and officers, he added.
Any resident who is looking to become a part of Operation Lockbox in their town should contact their local police department. Dellane suggested they peruse the website to see if the program exists or call and speak to the community policing officer for that agency.
“We are always open and receptive in law enforcement to improving the delivery of services to our communities and if you have any questions or issues, I always encourage people to reach out to their local police department,” Dellane said.