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Help us help the police

In November of 1977 my new job took me from St. Louis County, Mo., to New York City. The cultural difference was tremendous.  

People held briefcases and purses close to their bodies.  Knife-point robberies occurred at all times of the day and night. Necklaces were snatched from people’s necks, and some robbers cut off their victim’s finger if a valuable ring could not be removed swiftly enough.  Pairs of shoes dangled from utility lines, and a surprising number of men wore St. Louis Cardinals baseball caps. Trash was strewn on the streets and sidewalks.

I wasn’t surprised because it all fit the city’s reputation.

The fellows with whom I worked told me the situation on the streets was worse than usual.  They (union members) told me Mayor Lindsay had given all the unions everything they asked for instead of negotiating contracts. They told me his attempts at generosity had led the city to bankruptcy.  

In order to meet contractual obligations, the city had to fire hundreds of employees.  No department was exempt. There were too few teachers in the schools, too few sanitation workers on the streets and too few firefighters and police officers to keep people safe.

The St. Louis Cardinals baseball caps were red, the color of the Bloods crime gang.

In an area of the Bronx referred to as “Fort Apache,” some police officers refused to leave the station house because the streets were so dangerous.  Buildings, firetrucks and police cars burned to rubble. People were robbed, murdered and maimed. There was no peace for them, no justice, no protection.

Who wants to live like that?

All of us need to be protected from bullies and bad guys. None of us wants to live in fear of crime.  Police departments do not cause crime, they prevent it.

As a civilian, I have dealt with Montclair police officers. The township offices are only open 40 hours a week, so I have phoned the police department during off hours for a split tree (they closed the road until it could be removed). Montclair holds our police officers to a very high standard. If you have a legitimate complaint about an officer (the color of an officer’s hair or eyes is not legitimate, even if you are a hairdresser), contact the duty supervisor. Help us have the best police department possible.

CATHY MARRIN

Montclair

Anticipating a dedicated senior center

Unlike many of my former colleagues at Montclair State, I did not, upon retirement, abandon Montclair. Rather, for several years afterwards, I bridged the town-gown separation by serving on Montclair’s Board of Education. Even that service was a number of years ago. But in all the years (over 40) that I have lived in Montclair, I have been anticipating a viable senior citizen center. 

Now I have learned that the promise to convert a portion of the United Way building to such use has been rescinded. I am, of course, disappointed.

I understand that a coalition of senior organizations in Montclair, plus the wonderful Garden Club, are supporting the township’s original promise. I add my voice to theirs. The United Way building seems to be a perfect place for the center that I, and others, have so long waited for. 

JEAN M. ARMSTRONG

 Montclair

Chaos in the wake of another shooting

As the protest grows and gets louder in cities like Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Portland, Seattle, St. Louis and Chicago (leading crime-ridden cities) to abolish, defund and dismantle police departments across the country, the insanity of this movement boggles the mind of law-abiding citizens and heads of households. 

You need not be a Rhodes scholar to realize where such a movement would lead. Your wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, son, grandmother, grandfather, etc., would not be safe to walk across the streets of America. 

Murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assaults, arson and looting would become the norm. If this happens you will be forcing heads of households to arm and defend themselves, their families, their homes and their businesses. 

When you or a member of your family become a victim of the ravages of a brutal crime because of this political movement by Washington politicians who don’t care about our safety, who in the meantime hire armed security guards to protect them, their families and property, while they lace their pockets and become rich, may I suggest defunding their private security details and replacing them with social workers like they want to do with us and the police. 

Remember, despite your hate and anger for the police who would have responded to your aid without hesitation, and in some cases given up their lives to protect you and your family, politicians will only be there for you at election time looking for your vote. Any politician voting for this should be voted out of office for their knee-jerk, self-serving political advancement, without evidence or research. 

I may not have a degree from the University of Michigan, but I challenge any politician in favor of this crazy resolution to a debate. 

But you know what, degrees don’t matter, all it takes is common sense to know defunding/abolishing/dismantling police departments across our nation is just plain stupid. If these reckless and irresponsible resolutions are successful then we might as well abolish, as we now know them, the court system, judges and prisons, as without the police their services would be curtailed and in some cases not needed. We can regress to the laws of the jungle and survival of the fittest. Cities that are successful in passing such resolutions will be encroaching on our freedoms and values, and will increase tensions between Americans, dividing  the nation. 

The traditional values and morals that guided our nation’s forefathers, “Liberty and Justice for All,” are under attack. The only advice I can give you if you are Caucasian, African American, Asian, Christian, Jew or Moslem, as crime does not discriminate based on race or religion, is  arm yourself and be ready to protect your families against hoodlums, thugs, rapists, terrorists and just plain savage crazy people. 

If there is anything I have learned in my 42-year career of active duty and eight years as a law enforcement consultant, it is that a few rogue cops lacking humanistic skills cast a shadow over policing; these people must be weeded out of the profession, before the badge is pinned on their chest. A more stringent interview process, background check and examination to detect any traits of a psychological behavioral disorder should be required. The vast majority of the men/women serving are decent, honorable, dedicated hard-working people whose primary reason for becoming police officers is to Serve and Protect. 

My question to Montclair citizens is if what’s occurring across America, with rioting destructive mobs, burning, looting and shooting, became a reality in the Township of Montclair, how would you want our mayor and council, along with law enforcement officials, to respond? 

THOMAS J. RUSSO

Montclair

The author is Montclair’s  former chief of police and director of public safety.

Sexism should not exist here in Montclair

To state the obvious, sexism and misogyny is one of the largest problems facing modern American society. Montclair High School, even in the most progressive of communities, is not immune to this. As recent MHS graduates, we have seen both directly and indirectly how sexism and misogyny manifests itself against our classmates in our school through intimidation and peer pressure, dating violence, and even sexual harassment and assault. This pattern of uninterrupted abuse has only accelerated during our time at MHS. Therefore, we feel that we must demonstrate that this behavior is unacceptable in any community, especially in our progressive, accepting home of Montclair, and stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence.

In effect, we, the members of the Montclair High School running community have decided to raise funds for the NJ Coalition Against Sexual Assault and SAVE of Essex County by holding a run-a-thon the week of Monday, Sept. 7. Members of the community can participate by sponsoring one of our ten runners at a rate of your choice. By holding our run-a-thon, Miles for Survivors, the Montclair community can stand up against an unfortunately significant culture of sexism at Montclair High School and stand for our progressive values.

To donate and for more information about our run-a-thon and our designated charities please email us at milesforsurvivors@gmail.com or visit our Facebook (@milesforsurvivors) or Instagram (@milesforsurvivors) pages. We cannot remain complicit in accepting the greater culture of misogyny at Montclair High School. We must actively work together to create a safe and inclusive environment for the women and girls of our community.

ISIS AREVALO & JACOB SCHMELTZI

Montclair