If you haven't seen it before, there's a new sign in the lobby of the West Deptford township municipal building.
West Deptford Township Employees
- They are also residents of West Deptford Township
- They are our neighbors...They have families...Their children attend the same schools.
- They provide a necessary public service for the entire Township community on a daily basis.
- They collect/process our taxes, fees for the operation of the Township and provided services.
- They pick up our trash, they repair our roads. They protect us from crime.
- They deserve to be treated with politeness and respect as a fellow human being.
It's signed at the bottom by West Deptford Mayor Ray Chintall, and concludes with the following remark:
"On behalf of my fellow Township committee members, I personally request that our West Deptford Township employees are treated the way you want to be treated, to be talked to the way you want to be talked to...with Mutual Respect and Human Dignity."
Chintall said it was his idea to post the signs in the building after he'd heard repeated tales of angry residents unburdening themselves of their frustrations at the expense of municipal workers.
He sees it as symptomatic of a larger wave of political resentment in America, that is unfortunately expressed first at the lowest levels of government.
"Nobody wants to pay taxes, and they unfortunately take it out on the workers," Chintall said.
"It’s what’s going on in the nation just down to the local level."
Because of his prior career as a New Jersey State Trooper, Chintall said he's the only elected official currently serving on the committee with prior public-sector experience, and he can remember what it felt like being on the other end of those moments.
"They'd always come back and say, 'I pay your wages!'" Chintall said, to which he'd respond, "Yes, I appreciate that every couple weeks."
But as township officials are "on the front line of policy and procedures" enacted by local leaders, "those people are the only ones that the public sees as the face of our government," the mayor said.
"Regardless of what’s going on in the town, the vast majority of those workers come in, do their job—it’s a public service—and go home," he said.
Township employees "deserve a little bit of encouragement," Chintall said, and he hopes that his sign will be a quiet reminder to residents that their neighbors deserve some patience and basic courtesy.
"They are the day-to-day face of West Deptford government," Chintall said; "they’re the ones that have to address that when people look at a bill or a fee goes up."
Although Chintall said any stories he's heard of heated confrontations with township employees has been "sporadic," they were enough to motivate his plea for civility.
"Just treat people with some type of mutual respect," Chintall said. "If you just bring your tone down, sometimes people reciprocate."