Wall Of Shame



Wall of Shame


Editor Jacob Kamaras: Heard some news you want us to check out? Let me know: Jacob.Kamaras@patch.com

For First Time In 20 Years, Schools without a D.A.R.E. Program 

Supervisor of Community Policing says manpower isn't there to run Citizens Police Academy either

By Jacob Kamaras | Email the author | September 20, 2010

Fair Lawn's Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program for sixth-graders and the Citizens Police Academy are both cancelled for this fall due to a lack of manpower in the police department, said Sgt. Derek Bastinck, supervisor of community policing.

The borough's police force will be down to 54 members after the layoffs of officers Robert Iozzia, Christopher Sullivan, Alan Annazone, and Robert Mader on Sept. 1; the retirements of Sgts. Carmine Moscatello and John Annazone in June; the transfer of Officer Justin Garcia in February; and the upcoming retirements of Capt. Anthony Serrao and Lt. Richard Goetz on Oct. 1.

Patrol officers need to be promoted to replace upper-level officers, and officers who ran D.A.R.E. and Citizens Academy need to replace the patrolmen. So there aren't any officers to run the community programs until the department's normal staffing levels are restored, Bastinck said.

D.A.R.E.–a shared service between the Fair Lawn School District and the borough–has operated a core sixth-grade program in Fair Lawn for 20 years. A uniformed police officer teaches a weekly 45-minute block of instruction per class for 10 weeks. The lessons focus on building resistance techniques to alcohol, drugs, and violence; considering consequences; resisting pressure; learning ways to say no; understanding effects of the media; accounting for stress; seeking alternatives; resolving conflict; avoiding violence; improving self-esteem; understanding risk-taking; and making decisions.

"I really think it's priceless," Bastinck said of D.A.R.E.'s value for kids, particularly ones who might be "on the fence about using drugs."

Besides for the sixth-grade core program, each eighth grade class gets 10 visits over a two-week period, which is also impossible for the department to schedule at this time, Bastinck said. Fourth-graders receive "visitation type" lessons which normally would be the easiest to schedule, he said, but difficult right now because there are seven grammar schools for the department to cover.

The Citizens Academy is an interactive and hands-on educational program in which residents 18 and older are instructed in a variety of weekly classes on topics including motor vehicle stops, self defense, anti-terrorism, Internet safety, disaster preparedness, juvenile law, domestic violence, fire safety, gang awareness, the criminal justice system, drug awareness, and traffic investigations.

Regarding The Junior Citizen's Police Academy–a weeklong program each summer that acquaints youths with the workings of the Police Department and other emergency services–Bastinck said "we hope we can still do that," but he wasn't certain.

"If we were to try to have it tomorrow, we wouldn't be able to do that," he said.

Colleen Hickey of Fair Lawn, 13, said D.A.R.E. taught her to "to be a better person."

"It meant a lot because you learn about drugs and how bad they are for you," she said.

Deputy Mayor Lisa Swain said the borough is "going to have to look at ways to see if we can continue with [community policing] programs and I think we will be able to."

"I think the programs are important. Both my kids benefited from the D.A.R.E. program," she said.

Injured officer's wife disgusted with council
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Last updated: Thursday September 16, 2010, 1:26 AM
Community News (Elmwood Park Edition)

Injured officer’s wife disgusted with the town council

To the editor:

I write this as a police officer’s wife and as a disgusted resident of Fair Lawn. On the night of Sept. 1, my husband, Fair Lawn Police Sgt. Michael Messina, was dispatched to Walgreen’s on River Road on a report of a crime in progress. Within minutes he was fighting for his life as well as that of Police Officer Ken Cavanaugh.

Mike saw Officer Cavanaugh run down by the suspect’s vehicle, which then turned directly at him. He was struck and landed on top of the suspect’s hood, at which point he exercised his police training and shot at the suspect in order to save both his and Officer Cavanaugh’s lives.

Almost a week has passed since this incident occurred and I find it an appalling disgrace that neither the borough manager nor any council member has made an attempt to visit or contact either officer. This despite the fact that both officers’ telephone numbers and addresses are readily available. Yet, not one member of Fair Lawn’s governing body took the time to check on the welfare of these men. It is obvious that in Fair Lawn reaching out is not something that would politically benefit the council so there was no concern on any one’s part.

Unfortunately, this seems to go in hand with the attitude of the council toward the police officers who protect Fair Lawn on a daily basis. Criminals will continue to show up in Fair Lawn and put police officers’ lives in danger on a daily basis. Whether the council recognizes it or not, times have changed and bigger crimes are being committed right here in the town that the council claims it cares so much about.

One police officer killed in the line of duty in Fair Lawn is one too many. We certainly do not want it repeated. May we never forget Mary Ann Collura. Sept. 1 should prove to you exactly what PBA President Detective David Boone has stated on numerous occasions "Fewer cops means less safety in town for citizens and our officers"

Noreen Messina

Sgt. Michael Messina's wife
_____________________________________________________________

       

Fair Lawn to issue bonds for projects
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The Record

FAIR LAWN — The borough plans to sell $1.2 million in bonds to pay for a series of projects, including community center improvements, road repaving and a new wing for the rescue squad building, Borough Administrator Timothy Stafford said on Monday.

About $10,000 will go toward refinishing the gym floor and buying new theater equipment and arcade games for the community center, Stafford said. About $9,000 will pay for repaving a borough-owned hockey rink, and $80,000 will go toward the rescue squad building.

Other expenditures include road resurfacing and storm drain improvements. The Borough Council was expected to approve the measure today.

— Stephanie Akin

FAIR LAWN — The borough plans to sell $1.2 million in bonds to pay for a series of projects, including community center improvements, road repaving and a new wing for the rescue squad building, Borough Administrator Timothy Stafford said on Monday.

About $10,000 will go toward refinishing the gym floor and buying new theater equipment and arcade games for the community center, Stafford said. About $9,000 will pay for repaving a borough-owned hockey rink, and $80,000 will go toward the rescue squad building.

Other expenditures include road resurfacing and storm drain improvements. The Borough Council was expected to approve the measure today.

— Stephanie Akin

PBA protests layoffs at mayor's home
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Last updated: Thursday September 9, 2010, 1:20 AM
Community News (Fair Lawn Edition)
STAFF WRITER

Fair Lawn — Police officers held a rally last week protesting the governing body’s decision to layoff four police officers.

Police officers rallied in front of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 67 headquarters on Fair Lawn Avenue last week prior to picketing borough hall. Numerous drivers honked their horns in support of police while some residents turned out in person.

Staffing for the department will be reduced to 55 officers due to the layoffs and three retirements, according to officials. As a result, the department will compensate for staff reductions by increasing overtime and eliminating the D.A.R.E. program.

"It’s like losing part of your family," said PBA President David Boone.

Boone added that fewer officers on the street would create a more dangerous atmosphere for police and residents.

Borough officials have indicated that the three retiring officers would be replaced. The four officers laid off on Sept. 1 have already found employment with another police department in Bergen County, according to sources.

Boone claimed the layoffs were a ploy to get federal money from a program that allows municipalities to rehire laid off police officers.

In addition to the protest outside of borough hall, police officers also picketed Mayor Joe Tedeschi’s home on Hartley Place.

"I don’t know what their objective was," Tedeschi said during a phone conversation on Sept. 1.

Tedeschi also dismissed Boone’s claim.

"Why would we do that?" Tedeschi said. "Lay people off to get money, to hire them back. It’s ridiculous."

He later added, "All they have to do is take four furlough days."

Tedeschi said the borough wanted the police to share in the sacrifices of other borough employees – the majority of which have agreed to 14 furlough days.

The borough has sought to reduce costs following a cut of $1.2 million in state aid by furloughing employees and switching employee health insurance from Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield to a self-funded insurance program administrated by Insurance Design Administrators.

The police unions have opposed furloughs and a switch in health insurance.

"We have asked the PBA to voluntarily take only five furlough days," Tedeschi said in a written statement. "They have refused. We have asked the PBA to voluntarily take four furlough days. They have refused. We have asked the PBA to make their own suggestions as an alternative to the four furlough days. They have not responded. If the PBA would agree to four voluntary furlough days the four officers would not be laid off."

The rally ended only an hour before a pair of women attempted to pass a counterfeit prescription at a Walgreens in Fair Lawn and struck two police officers with their car as they fled. The duo was arrested the next day and issued a slew of charges including attempted murder.

"This is precisely the thing we’re talking about," Boone said on Sept. 2. "With less officers the danger rises considerably."

The controversy over the four layoffs exists as part of a much larger conflict between the borough and the police union over the stalled police contract – which expired on Dec. 31, 2008 – with neither side wishing to concede ground prior to settling the contract.

The borough and police unions are scheduled for arbitration of the police officer’s contract, but, prior to that, they will have to deal with alleged violations by the borough of the unions’ contract. The police unions filed two unfair labor charges against the borough earlier this year, alleging that the borough’s failure to ratify an earlier agreement was an example of negotiating "in bad faith" and that the switch in the borough’s health insurance did not provide "equal or superior coverage" – a requirement of the current union contract.

E-mail: zaremba@northjersey.com

Fair Lawn — Police officers held a rally last week protesting the governing body’s decision to layoff four police officers.

Several officers brought their protest to the home of Mayor Joe Tedeschi on Harley Place on Sept. 1. Officers wore T-shirts with this message to the mayor during a rally to protest the firing of four police officers. Dozens of drivers who passed by the police demonstration on Fair Lawn Avenue signified their support by honking, giving a thumbs up or waving.
NICK MESSINA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
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Several officers brought their protest to the home of Mayor Joe Tedeschi on Harley Place on Sept. 1. Officers wore T-shirts with this message to the mayor during a rally to protest the firing of four police officers. Dozens of drivers who passed by the police demonstration on Fair Lawn Avenue signified their support by honking, giving a thumbs up or waving.

Police officers rallied in front of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 67 headquarters on Fair Lawn Avenue last week prior to picketing borough hall. Numerous drivers honked their horns in support of police while some residents turned out in person.

Staffing for the department will be reduced to 55 officers due to the layoffs and three retirements, according to officials. As a result, the department will compensate for staff reductions by increasing overtime and eliminating the D.A.R.E. program.

"It’s like losing part of your family," said PBA President David Boone.

Boone added that fewer officers on the street would create a more dangerous atmosphere for police and residents.

Borough officials have indicated that the three retiring officers would be replaced. The four officers laid off on Sept. 1 have already found employment with another police department in Bergen County, according to sources.

Boone claimed the layoffs were a ploy to get federal money from a program that allows municipalities to rehire laid off police officers.

In addition to the protest outside of borough hall, police officers also picketed Mayor Joe Tedeschi’s home on Hartley Place.

"I don’t know what their objective was," Tedeschi said during a phone conversation on Sept. 1.

Tedeschi also dismissed Boone’s claim.

"Why would we do that?" Tedeschi said. "Lay people off to get money, to hire them back. It’s ridiculous."

He later added, "All they have to do is take four furlough days."

Tedeschi said the borough wanted the police to share in the sacrifices of other borough employees – the majority of which have agreed to 14 furlough days.

The borough has sought to reduce costs following a cut of $1.2 million in state aid by furloughing employees and switching employee health insurance from Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield to a self-funded insurance program administrated by Insurance Design Administrators.

The police unions have opposed furloughs and a switch in health insurance.

"We have asked the PBA to voluntarily take only five furlough days," Tedeschi said in a written statement. "They have refused. We have asked the PBA to voluntarily take four furlough days. They have refused. We have asked the PBA to make their own suggestions as an alternative to the four furlough days. They have not responded. If the PBA would agree to four voluntary furlough days the four officers would not be laid off."

The rally ended only an hour before a pair of women attempted to pass a counterfeit prescription at a Walgreens in Fair Lawn and struck two police officers with their car as they fled. The duo was arrested the next day and issued a slew of charges including attempted murder.

"This is precisely the thing we’re talking about," Boone said on Sept. 2. "With less officers the danger rises considerably."

The controversy over the four layoffs exists as part of a much larger conflict between the borough and the police union over the stalled police contract – which expired on Dec. 31, 2008 – with neither side wishing to concede ground prior to settling the contract.

The borough and police unions are scheduled for arbitration of the police officer’s contract, but, prior to that, they will have to deal with alleged violations by the borough of the unions’ contract. The police unions filed two unfair labor charges against the borough earlier this year, alleging that the borough’s failure to ratify an earlier agreement was an example of negotiating "in bad faith" and that the switch in the borough’s health insurance did not provide "equal or superior coverage" – a requirement of the current union contract.

E-mail: zaremba@northjersey.com