HPPD Averts Potential Suicide on Goodkind Bridge

Two Highland Park Police officers stopped a potential tragedy last week, as they calmed an individual showing suicidal behavior on the Goodkind Bridge in Edison. On the evening of Friday, June 3, Highland Park Police Officer Sean Garley was driving over theMorris Goodkind Bridge on Rt 1 in Edison on his way home from work. As he was crossing thebridge, he observed a car parked on the shoulder and an individual pacing near the railing thatrepeatedly grabbed the guardrail and leaned over the edge, looking at the river below.Believing he was witnessing an indicator of suicidal behavior, Officer Garley parked nearby,exited his vehicle, and started speaking with the distraught individual who confirmed they wereintending to jump from the bridge.Utilizing his training in de-escalation and critical incident management skills, Officer Garleycalmed the individual down and over the span of several minutes was able to bring them awayfrom the edge of the bridge to sit on the curb.Off Duty Highland Park Police Detective Sean McGraw, also on his way home from work, sawwhat was happening and stopped to assist Garley in keeping the individual calm.The off-duty Highland Park Officers notified the Highland Park Dispatch center of what wasoccurring and asked for support from neighboring jurisdictions. Officers from the Edison andNew Brunswick Police Departments quickly arrived on scene and were able to take theindividual to a local hospital for an evaluation and treatment.Highland Park Police Chief Rick Abrams praised Officer Garley and Det. McGraw, saying, “I amextremely proud of both officers. READ MORE

Mural vandal – a Highland Park resident – is apprehended by Highland Park police and charged

Chief Rick Abrams of the Highland Park Police Department announces that a man from Highland Park has been charged with the vandalizing of the mural located at 75 Raritan Ave. Thomas Santo, 54, of Highland Park, New Jersey, was charged with NJSA 2C:16-1 Bias Intimidation, a 4th degree criminal charge, as well as NJSA 2C:17-3 Criminal Mischief for the actual physical defacement of the mural. A preliminary investigation by Highland Park Police Detective Sgt. J. Culver and Det. Palumbo determined that Mr. Santo first vandalized the mural on the morning of 4/29/22 and then returned later in the day to vandalize the mural again. READ MORE

Highland Park Mural defaced and town reacts to a shocking act of intolerance and bigotry

Several faith and service leaders led a vigil on the evening of May 2, 2022 after a newly installed mural, titled “Home is Where We Make It,” was vandalized last week. Discussions are ongoing among community leaders as to when the mural will be restored. Speakers at the vigil included Josh Pruzansky, president for the Raritan Valley Orthodox Jewish Community Association, Dr. Alex Kharazi, director of Masjid-e-Ali Mosque, Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale, Reformed Church of Highland Park, and Rebecca Cypess, Middlesex Black-Jewish Coalition. Members of The Shelter Project, a group of faculty from Rutgers University and the New Brunswick Theological Seminary that commissioned the mural, also attended. The mural, located near Papa John’s pizzeria parking lot at 75 Raritan Avenue, was designed to facilitate conversations with the local refugee community by being in a prominent place for motorists and pedestrians alike. READ MORE

It’s Legal – Mariunana as of April 21, 2022, can be legally purchased for recreational use by adults

NJ on April 21, 2022 finally joined the growing roster of states where marijuana can be legally purchased for recreational use by adults — a milestone marked both by state officials and happy customers proclaiming “at last.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, who campaigned on legalizing pot, was among the dignitaries on hand at Zen Leaf in Elizabeth, one of 13 locations across NJ now in the legal retail recreational-pot business.Sales for now are limited to existing medical-marijuana dispensaries that won approval to expand their operations to recreational users; more locations are due to come online in the future.It’s been nearly 18 months since state voters overwhelmingly approved the legalization of recreational pot in a referendum; 17 states and the District of Columbia have already taken the step. The state Cannabis Regulatory Commission has issued the following tips for cannabis customers in New Jersey:

Do: Be patient – expect long lines and wait your turn to be served.Do: Start low and go slow – follow product instructions and remember ingestible products can take longer to take effect than smoking or vaping. Call NJ Poison Center at 800-222-1222 if you are concerned you may have ingested or used too much.Do: Store your legal cannabis products securely, out of the reach of kids. Legal cannabis products are in child safe packaging, but always keep them secure and out of the reach of anyone under the age of 21.Don’t: Drive while high. Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal and dangerous.Don’t: Cross state lines. READ MORE

Tyler Rios pleads guilty in domestic violance case

Highland Park High School graduate and former high school football star Tyler Rios, now of East Orange, pleaded guilty in mid-April, 2022, to one count of first-degree aggravated manslaughter and one count of second-degree desecrating of human remains in the death of 24-year-old Highland Park High School graduate Yasmein Uyar, who was a resident of Rahway at the time of her murder. The tragic ending to the abusive relationship that began when they were both Highland Park High School students occurred in July 2021, with the arrest of Rios and discovery of Uyar’s body. Their son was unharmed. The 27-year-old Rios was charged with killing his ex-girlfriend and kidnapping their two-year-old-son, after an Amber Alert and statewide manhunt last July. He is facing a 30-year sentence after a guilty plea, according to Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel. READ MORE

The Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners reaffirm fiscal health and announce key focuses for 2022 during annual State of the County address

Announced during the 2022 State of the County address at the beginning of April by Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios, the County is doubling down on its commitment to its residents with programs and initiatives specifically focused on revitalizing our education system, continuing to build programs centered around the health and wellness of residents, and ensuring Middlesex County is the best place to live, work, and play for all. 

This year’s State of the County was held in-person for the first time in two years at the Carteret Performing Arts Center with more than 200 county residents, business leaders, students, and government officials in attendance.  A link to the full event can be found here. “Middlesex County has been on a transformative journey over the last decade centered on making strategic business decisions to improve our overall fiscal health and investing in the vital services we provide our residents, all laddering up to our Destination 2040 master plan,” said Ronald G. Rios, Director of the Board of County Commissioners. “At our core, Middlesex County is committed to making decisions that enable us to offer services and launch programs that have a lasting impact on those who call and will call Middlesex County home.”

Additionally, County Commissioner Director Rios shared that, despite the pandemic and the economic challenges of the past two years, it grew its surplus fund to nearly $89 million and decreased its debt by more than $10 million. This surplus, combined with the County’s receipt of the coveted AAA bond rating from Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings, reaffirms County’s robust fiscal health. 

Additionally, during the address, County Commissioner Director Rios highlighted how the County plans to leverage key partnerships and funds to support essential services while also investing millions in capital projects including performing arts centers, parks, recreation, and open space this year. While the overall physical and mental health and well-being of Middlesex County residents continues to be at the forefront, the County will be focusing on sound business strategies meant to expand career and job opportunities. READ MORE