Statement from the Riverside Police Department

Posted on May 2nd, 2019

The Riverside Township Police Department, with the support of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Township Committee, would like to provide an update regarding the incident of March 25, 2019 at the Riverside Township Public School.

On March 25, 2019, Riverside PD received information regarding an incident at the school.  The Department immediately took action to report the matter to the Burlington County Prosecutors Office and the New Jersey State Police, as called for under the NJ Attorney General’s directive governing such incidents.   Subsequent, an investigation was opened by the Riverside PD.  During the investigation, students were interviewed, and the Riverside PD even reached out to federal law enforcement agencies and requested assistance in handwriting comparison.  The investigation did not lead us to believe that the threat was credible. Even so, a plan was developed to provide additional security at the schools on May 1, 2019.

The Burlington County Times reached out to the Township regarding the incident and information was provided accordingly.  Comments attributed to Chief Eliason in the Burlington County Times articles, however, are not a full or adequate representation of the context in which the statements were made. In addition, and for obvious reasons, the full details of ongoing investigations cannot be shared with the public. The citizens of Riverside have, and will always, be informed of any credible threats, but this was not one of those instances.

Throughout this ongoing investigation, the decision was consciously made not to immediately publicize the information in an effort to avoid creating and perpetuating a baseless fear.  Contrary to what has been suggested, there was no attempt to evade or mislead the public. The Riverside Police Department places an extremely high value on community outreach. We fully respect the trust placed in us by members of the public, and fully embrace the responsibility of protecting our citizens.  We understand and support the value of transparency when it comes to police operations, but must always weigh that against the welfare of the public, especially where our children our concerned.

The Riverside Police Department will continue to work closely with the school district under the Memorandum of Agreement that requires us to be informed of criminal and other behavior that occurs in the schools, and we will continue to thoroughly investigate all matters that are brought to our attention.  The safety of our residents has always been, and will always be, paramount to the officers and command staff of the Riverside Police Department.