A group of elected officials and health and safety professionals will gather this month for a panel discussion on gun violence, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction and school safety moderated by Kinnelon Mayor Robert Collins.
The discussion, which will be held on Feb. 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Morris County Library in Whippany, was organized by Morristown Councilwoman Alison Deeb in response to Gov. Chris Christie's taskforce, NJ Safe. NJ Safe must present recommendations to the governor within 60 days of the taskforce's comissioning on Jan. 17.
Deeb, who was affected by gun violence in her personal life when a cousin died from a gun accident when she was 19, is hoping to bring input gathered by the panel to the state and NJ Safe committee.
"I’d like to hear from experts in our local area and am trying to start a civil dialogue, “ Deeb said. “We all want a more safe society. No one is for gun violence.”
Included in the panel will be NewBridge Services Chief Operating Officer L. Michelle Borden; Rutgers Professor and Expert on Youth Social Development Maurice Elias; Detective/SSI Keisha Higgs of the Community Affairs Unit of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office; MA Mental Health Association of Morris County President and CEO Louis Schwarcz; Peter J. Tamburro, Jr., school educator and speaker on the Constitution and Bill of Rights; and Neighborhood House Executive Director David Walker. Collins will serve as the moderator.
"I was honored to be asked by Morristown Councilwoman Alison Deeb and , I wanted to continue my efforts to remain proactive on this national issue that affects all of us locally," Collins said. "I am hoping to gain some insight and knowledge that could be useful in ensuring that our collective efforts to have a safe school environment in Kinnelon is comprehensive."
Deeb said she feels that community collaboration is imperative in "creating a more civil society with safe and civil schools." Collins also said he is hopeful that the issues raised by the panel could help guide state officials.
"I hope that this panel discussion will explore opportunities to begin constructive dialogue on this issue that could be useful to our elected leaders in Trenton and Washington," he said.