After the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office announced Tuesday new requirements for local police officers speeding to calls, the mother of the 10-year-old boy killed by a police cruiser in December expressed hope that the directive was "only the beginning."
Michelle Harding, mother of Matthew McCloskey, said in a statement: "While nothing will ever bring Matthew back into our lives, I am very glad that the policies were changed and will now be uniform throughout Gloucester County."
"This is only the beginning of a bigger change that is needed and I am hoping this is the start of a statewide initiative," Harding continued. "The current policy in Franklin Township was unclear and left important decisions at the officer's discretion. For the safety of the community this antiquated and outdated policy needed to be changed."
McCloskey was killed Dec. 28 as he crossed Delsea Drive, not far from his home, in Franklin Township with two friends, just after 7 p.m. The police cruiser that struck the fifth grader was traveling 74 m.p.h. - 24 m.p.h. above the posted speed limit - to a "nonemergency" call, but not using its warning lights and sirens.
No charges were filed against the officer. Harding has indicated she may sue to pursue reforms.
County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton said Tuesday that all local police departments must incorporate certain criteria in their policies regarding the use of warning lights and sirens. All police vehicles surpassing the speed limit by 20 m.p.h. during responses must use those signals, effective May 1.
Harding's statement also highlighted a foundation she created called Matthew's Miracles as well as the Matthew McCloskey Memorial Fund at PNC Bank. The foundation is intended to assist families with children "who have endured a tragedy."
"With help from my friends and family, I intend to continue to keep Matt's memory alive any way I can as he would love nothing more than to help others," Harding's statement said.