Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mahwah to Continue Using Safety App

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mahwah to Continue Using Safety App

Article excerpt

MAHWAH -- The council decided this week that it would continue to use the Mahwah Delivers: Stay Connected app for free until it does its budget review -- saying that the once-controversial technology deserved a longer trial period.

The app allows residents to report crime tips, dangerous conditions and other problems and follow the progress of their submissions.

"I think it's good for the public because they can see that things are getting done -- they're being responded to," Mayor Bill Laforet said.

The app has been used to make 62 requests over 18 weeks. It has most often been used to report issues to the Department of Public Works, the Police Department, Inspections, the Health Department and Administration.

The service cost the township about $3,000 from September, when it was implemented, until Dec. 31. The provider, PublicStuff, has extended the contract at no cost to the township.

If the township renews the service, it will cost about $6,000 for 2014.

The app, which was implemented by Laforet and Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli without the council's knowledge, has been plagued by controversy because of the council's exclusion from the process.

"This is the second time now this application has been brought before this council improperly," Councilman Rob Hermansen said Thursday night. "There's a lot of things in this town lately that do not get done in front of the council, in the right way."

Hermansen also questioned who was paying for and approved PublicStuff's advertising the app on Facebook to people who live in Mahwah.

Laforet said PublicStuff was paying for the advertising and that he approved it.

"Is this a dictatorship?" Hermansen said. "Because I noticed there are seven other people here. You do not make every decision in this town."

The five present council members Thursday night -- John Roth, Roy Larson, Harry Williams, Steve Sbarra and Hermansen -- agreed unanimously in a straw poll to extend the verbal contract Laforet made with PublicStuff to continue the service for free. …

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