How the Summit Police have Changed Since 9/11
Friday, September 14, 2012 • 11:58am
SUMMIT, NJ- Since Sept. 11, 2001, things have changed greatly throughout the tri-state area, but many people are now safer than they were 11 years ago. Summit Police Chief Robert Weck is proud of where his community and department are today.
The biggest difference post 9/11 is “see something, say something,” the chief said. In the past, people might see an unattended bag or suitcase and either ignore it or feel someone else would do something, but now the police get calls all of the time related to this, Weck said.
“It’s a good thing because it’s also trained for our personnel,” he said. “More people are eager and have an ownership.”
The relationships between the fire, police and emergency rescue squads have also grown tremendously, he said. The communication between departments is excellent and everyone is always there to lend each other a helping hand, Weck said.
“It was always there, but 9/11 brought everybody in the nation together,” he said.
Training at the schools has also become a major component of the police department post 9/11. A few years ago, they started an active shooter response team and the school has been extremely supportive of it, Weck said.
He explained to TheAlternativePress.com, in the past police could wait for SWAT when there was a shooter in a school, but now officers have the obligation to negate the threat. The teams train in the schools every few months at night to prepare for a real situation. They also recently held a live demo for the students and faculty using fake bodies and everyone could see what was going on because it was being filmed and shown in the auditorium. The teachers really enjoyed the demonstration because it made them, feel safe, he said. `
“It’s a little disturbing probably that this could happen here, but we hope it never does,” he said.
Weck said he and his staff have attended numerous anti-terrorism training courses and the biggest takeaway was learning about the differences in cultures. In some cultures it is rude to talk to a man’s wife first, because it will offend him, the chief said. In today’s society, they really want to be able to work with everyone, he said.
“You really become aware that you can insult someone’s culture without even knowing that you’re doing it,” Weck said.
But, while all of these changes resulted from a tragedy, they have helped make Summit a safer and better place, he said. Weck stressed no police officer should believe he’s done training after graduating from the academy, because it needs to be done year round. All of his officers know it’s only going to make them better at their jobs, he said.
The department also now carries ballistic helmets, gas masks and semi-automatic weapons. Last October, when he became chief he implemented the walking beat, which features an officer at all patrolling the town on foot. Resident’s really love how there is a police presence in the community at all times, he said.
“I think it’s a great town and a very safe town,” Weck said.