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Maplewood Residents Discuss Crime and Safety at Special Township Meeting

Patrick Kennedy

Friday, August 23, 2013 • 7:00am

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - In order to address a series of local crime incidents and the shooting in Maplecrest Park, Maplewood's Police Chief, Mayor and a Township Committeeman met with  Maplewood residents on Thursday evening.  Recent cases of burglary, car theft, and violent crime have inspired tense emotions—shock, dismay, even anger.  Yet the Maplewood township government and administration engaged in an open dialogue with Thursday’s audience, and highlighted the measures that are being taken to keep Maplewood safe and secure.

Mayor Victor DeLuca started off the meeting. “We are scared, we are upset, we are outraged” noted Mayor DeLuca, “but we are also responsible for figuring out how to move forward.” He also explained that the Township Committee has been working closely with Police Chief Robert Cimino in order to figure out the best ways to confront the recent incidents.

The assembly was then addressed by Committeeman Marlon Brownlee, who chairs the Maplewood Public Safety Committee, and by Police Chief Cimino himself.  Cimino shared details of one local crime—a shooting that took place in Maplecrest Park—but also reassured his audience by highlighting fast-paced response and investigation efforts. As Cimino declared, “the Maplewood police are out there patrolling and enforcing the law on a regular basis.”

Although the details of the Maplecrest Park investigation are not (in order to guarantee effective legal prosecution) being released to the public, Cimino did tell his audience of other efforts.  Crime statistics from other towns, as well as county- and state-wide police bulletins, provide Maplewood with “updated information on the most current threats.”

The meeting then transitioned to a question and answer session.  Alluding to the recent shooting, one concerned resident asked: “What kind of measures can be taken so that incidents like this don’t happen again?” Cimino explained that Maplewood officers closely monitor suspicious individuals and make over 600 yearly arrests, and that these procedures are constantly being refined.

Another resident asked Cimino about “advice for parents until the Maplecrest suspect is apprehended.” Here, Cimino stressed early, active notification if a suspicious person is spotted in a public area. “You need to call us.  Our officers will be there,” he concluded.

Brownlee encouraged a second safety measure: the creation and maintenance of neighborhood associations. (By show of hands, just over half of the attendees already belonged to such organizations.) And Cimino was confident that the Maplecrest shooting was an out-of-the-ordinary incident—that “something like this won’t just happen at any place, any time.”

The next Township Committee meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 3.  For additional information, please visit the Maplewood Township web site.

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