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police & fire

Tickets do not measure police work

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

EDITORIAL : Another group of public officials in New Jersey is taking aim at police officers — this time for “slacking” since eight of their colleagues were let go. Their evidence? Fewer summonses over the course of a single month.

The story was played up by AOL’s Patch, which reported West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi saying in a telephone interview: “Tickets are down considerably since the (March 15) layoffs. And work product is way down.”

It also cites an email from the town’s police chief saying officers need to show more “activity” to justify bringing back those who were laid off or pushed into retirement.

It isn’t until several paragraphs later that a union representative gets to defend the rank-and-file, saying they “have continued to exhibit the highest standards that are expected of them.”

Picking up right where two of the state’s largest  newspapers left off, the AOL-bankrolled “local” web site reports that the number of total motor vehicle stops in West Orange was down a third from the previous month. Hardly a representative sample.

Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor


But this is what happens when clueless people possess means of mass communication: measuring police work by TICKETS.

Know why other towns aren’t pulling the same stunt? They’re not that stupid, that’s why (Can’t say the same for certain media organizations I know).

Last I checked, ticket quotas were illegal in New Jersey. Someone might want to tell the West Orange mayor and council.

If a single month’s worth of traffic summonses is the basis for threatening not to rehire those who’ve left, then on-duty officers everywhere should begin stopping every motorist tonight who makes the slightest error. Issue a few warnings to some, summonses to most.

Heck, I’ll do my part: I need to go pick up some groceries, anyway.

Oh — and while the officers are preoccupied with MV stops, other calls will simply have to wait.

Kid’s head caught in a fence? Sorry.

Trouble breathing? Hang in there.

Car crash? Walk it off.

Wouldn’t it stand to reason that, with eight fewer officers, total violations would be down? I’d be curious to see what type of calls the West Orange LEOs were handling when all these tickets were supposed to have been written, especially since the force is 10 short of full strength right now.

I know one stat the clowns-that-be might want to consider: Friday night a clerk at a liquor store in town was shot dead. I, for one, would be more concerned with the level of safety than with going through ticket books.

Then again, if summons numbers suddenly skyrocketed, maybe town officials would simply turn around and say: “See? We’re getting by just fine.”


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