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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Robinson-Briggs must offer more than smoke and mirrors against Chief Santiago

If the administration of Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' doesn't want its maneuvers against Police Chief Ed Santiago to appear as simply a legal lynching, there are a couple of things it needs to do besides getting Trenton Police Director Joseph Santiago to speak to the Council this evening.

1. In the interest of a full and fair presentation of all the sides of the issue, Robinson-Briggs needs to invite a representative of the NJ State Chiefs of Police Association to explain the reasons why having a police chief is desirable.

2. The Robinson-Briggs administration needs to explain why it is disregarding a 2004 Department of Community Affairs study of the Police Division. Far from recommending the elimination of the chief's position, that study found the division to be top-heavy with captains and recommended a freeze and ultimate reduction in their number. It should invite the DCA to explain the 2004 study.
Without taking these steps, a reasonable person would have to conclude that the Green/Robinson-Briggs efforts to oust Chief Santiago are merely a personal vendetta.

Bernice also made a telling point in her post of yesterday (see here) on Joe Santiago's appearance before the Council tonight: Santiago's Trenton position is NOT analagous to that being proposed by the Administration; instead, Joe Santiago's position is the exact equivalent of Director Hellwig's.

The Green/Robinson-Briggs proposal would replace the chief with a politically appointed police Captain as an 'executive officer' to oversee day-to-day operation of the Division.

So what is tonight about? Smoke? Mirrors?

-- Dan Damon

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Anonymous said...

Maybe it's about having someone in charge. I don't know about you, but I pass the police station several times a week, and see no less than seven cars parked there during the day. What I do not see are police officers driving around the town. In a pass through in the town of Westfield (which takes me 3 minutes) I see at least two cars somewhere. If Mark Helwig will get the officers on the streets and do something about the safety here in Plainfied, I don't care who is in charge. Also, there have been some innovations carried out in Plainfield, the mobile unit and operation ceasefire. Whose ideas were those? (Actually asking, I have no idea)

Dan said...

You need to drive around downtown a little more -- there are a lot of police cars in the business district during the day, and I hear there is a ticket blitz under way for traffic and other violations. Having cars outside the police HQ is not an indication of how many officers are/are not on the streets -- think about it. There are cars in reserve. The mobile unit was gotten through grant money, and Operation Ceasefire is a state program for which Plainfield was selected. The issue with replacing a chief with merely political appointees who can be shuffled at the drop of a hat is one that hits at the stability and morale of the PD. Very necessary if you want a police force motivated to actually fight crime. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

I find the whole issue with the PD troubling. The running of this department has been a bone of contention for several years now. As you pointed out, the DCA study clearly pointed out that our PD was top-heavy. Why has nothing been done to address this issue? More cops on the street, making their presence known, interacting with the community; this is what the administration should be talking about. This is what will make a difference in the quality of life in Plainfield. -Brian