Chief looks to serve the community
What are the major issues your department has to deal with?
Well, we handle any kind of situation that comes up &045;anywhere from traffic, burglary, and thefts. Fortunately we haven’t had any homicide, but we would handle anything that comes up that was crime or law enforcement related.
How do you feel the crime rate is for a city this size?
It is pretty low. We go through a spell now and then where we have a rash of burglaries, but we have been very fortunate in the past to clear up just about all of it. You have a little petty theft, shoplifting and that kind of stuff, and we do pretty well on solving those cases too.
What do you see come through your office most regularly?
In relation to traffic, I would say speeding, no driver’s license and that type of stuff. Occasionally you get DUIs. We make a good deal of drug arrests off of traffic stops.
In other crimes, I would say domestic violence. We get a rash of domestic violence and assault occasionally. We work a bunch of bad checks. Fortunately right know it has been slow on the burglaries. We made it through the Christmas holidays without any armed robberies. Usually that time of year we have one or two, fortunately this year we didn’t have any.
I have been here eight years and we have had only one traffic homicide, with a drunk driver running into some kids.
What are some of the biggest challenges the department faces in holding it back from performing its more important duties more efficiently?
We are understaffed, with a full crew including me there are eight of us and that is not enough. Things have gotten where the call volumes are increasing, and it isn’t major stuff, but they are things we have to deal with. I stay on the telephone in this office. In an average day I’ll have ten complaints or cases every day at the office. Somebody will call and just want to talk to me about a problem and I’ll give them some guidance or refer them somewhere else. We stay pretty busy.
How many officers do you have working a shift?
At least two normally, occasionally we have three. Every once in a while someone is on vacation or someone is sick and there is one. Unusually during the daytime it is one dayshift officer and myself. At night I always try to have two.
How do you feel the relationship between the Linden Police Department and the city is?
Not just in Linden but everywhere, if a police officers does his job he is going to get complaints, because you have a certain element out there causing the problems that isn’t going to like you. If you have to arrest someone, or somebody’s child, or you get someone related to someone that gets into trouble, they aren’t going to like you. On the other side of the coin, you have the good citizens that are proud to see a police car come through their neighborhood that feel comfortable that we will respond when they need us. I think right now we have a pretty good reputation. We have a good working relation with the city council. They have been real good to us &045; getting stuff we need to work with.
What are some of things the council has helped the department with like the tasers?
When we first started talking about this we met with the mayor a year ago. All of the officers sat down and had a group meeting with him. We talked about the things we wanted to do like the tasers and wanted his blessing before we started. He didn’t have a problem with it. We showed him some information we gathered, and I talked with the city council about it and they were in favor of it also. They think every officer should have one.
Aside from the tasers, are there any other things you are looking to get for the department?
A lot of the equipment I get is through my involvement in the Highway Traffic Safety Program. We get a lot of equipment and grant money from them. The biggest thing the city has been doing is keeping us with good patrol cars. They allowed me to get three last year and I will need to upgrade one this year. They also allow me to hire folks that I need &045; I am still looking for one. The council in general has been very good to us.
Was it some of the more interesting things you have come across in your time in law enforcement?
When I took this office about eight years ago it was in turmoil. We made a lot of changes and right now I feel like we have a good department. The city feels that things are run the way they are supposed to be run. Had a lot of interesting cases over the past eight years, and I have 25 years in law enforcement and have seen a lot of things. The thing here that interests me the most is, when someone comes through the door, to be able to help them with whatever problem they face. I have parents come in having trouble with kids that don’t know which way to turn, and I try to help them. I have had children; I have grandchildren. They come in and I can see the hurt in their eyes. I try to do what I can to help those folks and my officers try to do the same thing.