The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Plainfield Constables?


Is Plainfield ready for a modern Constabulary?
One odd little item at Monday's Plainfield Council agenda-setting session was correspondence from Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs requesting the appointment of Sheldon Green and Frank Rokin as 'members of the Constable Committee'.

At public comment (after Mr. Williamson clarified the request was for constables, not as mistakenly made for a 'constable committee'), Dr. Harold Yood (olddoc) asked two simple questions:  Was the position stipendiary? And what were the Constable's duties?

Acting Corporation Counsel James Ventantonio answered the first, simply, with a 'No'.

The second question was another matter altogether, though.

After some perambulating, Ventantonio said the Constable's duties were 'not clear'.

That is a mild understatement.

Googling for constables in New Jersey, I came up with some interesting, but not entirely conclusive results --

  • A discussion thread by NJ constables on some of their concerns (here); and the
  • Website of the NJ State Fraternal Order of Constables (here).
And a comprehensive article on Wikipedia (see here) which includes this section on constables in New Jersey --

A constable is considered a peace officer under New Jersey statutes. Modern-day New Jersey police officers inherit their authority from the constable. Constables may exercise their functions and perform their duties anywhere in the county wherein the appointing municipality is located. Constables are appointed by their city government (city council) via the Clerk's Office and their office term is determined by the municipal government body. They answer to the city council or police chief via monthly activity reports. There seems to be some confusion as to whether they should be identified as municipal, town, city or county constables.
Their powers are mainly focused on the enforcement of civil law although state legislature grants them the power to also enforce criminal and motor vehicle laws.[48][49] Currently, there is legislation pending approval which will require all current and future NJ constables to undergo police training within six months of appointment.
Now, this raises an interesting point. According to the Wikipedia article and the Fraternal Order website, it is the GOVERNING BODY that establishes and appoints the Constables, as well as setting their term of office, and it is to the governing body that they report.

So, I pose a few simple questions the Council should get answers for before moving ahead on the question of Constables --

  • On what authority does Mayor Robinson-Briggs request the appointments?
  • What reason is there for wanting Constables?
  • What duties exactly are proposed for them?
  • And to whom will they report?
There has to be more to this than the Council or the public has so far been told.

Reading the materials I dredged up, it seems one of the concerns that has stirred up both supporters and detractors of Constables has to do with whether they can perform 'security duties'. This seems to imply those kinds of off-hour activities engaged in by sworn police officers and paid for by private entities or employers.

So, what is it these Constables would be for? To whom will they report? And why would these two gentlemen even be interested?

I hope the Council gets answers before next Monday night.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

sounds like some more bullshit by the City.
Way to hook up their friends or some boob they know.

True American Patriot said...

Maybe she wants her own private police force!

Anonymous said...

Isn't Sheldon Jerry Green's son. And isn't he already in charge of the Emergency Response/Disaster Coordinator. How many titles can one bestow on an individual who was hired to fight fires and has not had to pass any test for any promotion. Everything is handled by Daddy. WTF is a constable needed in Plainfield. This is just pathetic. How they come up with this stuff and keep a straight face in front of the Council is rather worthy of the Three Stoogies, Jerry/Sharon/Dan Williamson.

Michael Townley said...

I would think that the mayor has the "authority" to request the appointment of constables. She can't appoint them herself, so she would have to ask for their appointment. The bigger issues are the other questions asked, all of which should be answered before any appointments are approved or denied.

Anonymous said...

SHE HAD THAT NOW ONES GONE AND THE OTHER JUST DOES WHAT HE WANTS AND GETS AWAY WITH IT.

Anonymous said...

This is what she thinks is important as our city is in flux - it is no wonder.

Someone should tell the mayor to look at Plainfield and see what is happening in the city.

Does she even live here?

Anonymous said...

Sheldon Green has attended all needed courses of study in order to qualify for his position as OEM Coordinator. For the record, he has brought more OEM equipment and funds to this city during his tenure than the five previous coordinators combined. Before you nut jobs make this man guilty by association, I suggest you do your homework. I find it sad that the people complaining the loudest have the fewest incidents of personal sacrifice and contributions to this community. STOP BITCHIN AND KICK IN!!!

Anonymous said...

Constables can function as bounty hunters, so to speak. Many private investigators get constable status so they can effect arrests when necessary. It would be interesting to investigate whether those the mayor put forward are about to open their own private companies and want the designation so they can bounty hunt.