I would like to clarify some points made in Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin’s column: “Doblin: In Paterson, residents are connected to the matrix” published on Aug. 22, 2016.
Throughout my tenure as Paterson police director, loud music, disorderly conduct, double parking, urinating in public, panhandling, blocked intersections, the obstruction of public passageways, prostitution and various incidents of careless driving have been among some of the most consistent complaints made by residents. All of these issues are significant contributing factors to a community’s overall quality of life. It is my obligation to be responsive to those concerns and provide solutions.
Paterson residents deserve a coherent plan and decisive action, so I decided to step up enforcement initiatives such as hot-spot policing, expanded traffic details, improved code enforcement and business curfews, as part of an overall strategy to help make Paterson safer.
Since the onset of these initiatives, we have seen a 45 percent decrease in the number of homicides and an overall 12 percent reduction in the number of violent crimes, including a 79 percent reduction of criminal activity within targeted hot-spot zones.
The expansion of the Traffic Division’s hours to include a night detail had been discussed and planned several months prior to any issues related to the city budget and the recent passage of the tax levy. To suggest it was part of a financial strategy to cover budgetary deficiencies is simply misguided.
Naturally, an increase in enforcement efforts would correspond to short-term increases in revenue through the additional fines generated. It is also true any additional revenue produced is temporary at best, since once greater compliance is achieved, the amount of summonses issued likewise subsides.
To that end, it is important to note that utilizing summonses as a planned form of revenue generating tool would be tantamount to having quotas, something that is contrary to NJSA 40A:14-181.2, as well as contrary to my sworn obligation as leader of a law enforcement agency.
Doblin’s reference to the movie “The Matrix,” should really be about “metrics” and fails to consider the real numbers and real-time crime statistics that we have compiled.
Leaving aside political passions, the residents of Paterson deserve plausible action plans not references to science fiction movies.
Jerry Speziale is the director of the Paterson Police Department.