Thursday, August 20, 2009
Paterson, N.J. considers America’s first citywide non-emergency curfew for adults: Legitimate action or test for more cities to follow suit?
‘V for Vendetta’-like scenario from a Mayor with a vendetta
by Larry Simons
August 20, 2009
Paterson, N.J. officials have announced plans to adopt a new ordinance to cut down on the increasing number of violent crimes over the past summer. The country’s first ever citywide, non-emergency curfew, and that includes adults as well. Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres said, “We're trying to think outside the box. This was triggered predominantly by fear among city residents over the shootings that have been occurring this summer.”
Not only is a curfew unconstitutional, but a very bizarre proposed solution since homicides and shootings in Paterson have decreased since this time last year. There have been 6 homicides and 30 shootings this year, compared to 13 homicides and 37 shootings for the same period of 2008. So, it appears this is not about a “fear among city residents”. It seems the fear last year would have been doubled, but no curfew was proposed then.
Maybe it’s a lack of policemen? According to this July 27 article, that could be the case, since the Paterson police force’s allotted roster is 519, and they were recently 25 officers short of their mark. The only problem with that is, in the exact same article, it was reported that Mayor Torres laid off 59 officers on August 7 because of “financial” reasons.
Paterson’s Police Director, Glenn Brown, said the city’s crime rate was the lowest it had ever been and that even with 435 officers [84 under the allotment], the police department could still do the job. Not only does that fly in the face of Mayor Torres’ need to impose a curfew [that the crime rate is the lowest it has ever been], but although the salaries of the 59 laid off officers and the 25 it was already short would add money to the city’s coffers, why do they even need the money when the department’s budget had increased from 41.9 million in 2008 to 43.2 million in 2009 (a 3 % increase)?
Additionally, if the Mayor really wanted crime down and was concerned with finances, why, according to Police Benevolent Association President Detective Steve Olimpio, didn’t Torres lay off firefighters [but promoted them], the library or the DPW workers? Olimpio also said he feels the Mayor is specifically targeting cops because the police union rejected a city furlough proposal in April.
Under the comments on the July 27 story, one commentor [‘itsme5’] says:
“Remember the 780 Billion Dollar stimulus package our president rushed the country into and mortgaged our children’s future off with. The president promised that teachers, firefighters and police officers would not only be protected from layoffs, but the stimulus would also add jobs for teachers, firefighters and police officers. Torres was a huge supporter of this president in the election. WHERE IS THE MONEY JOEY???!!!!”
Another [DJHonda84] said:
“The city took a $3 million hit in state aid in the fiscal year that ended June 30." The math doesn't add up. I don't know how much these cops are making, but laying off a half-dozen should plug a hole like that. 59 sounds like overkill. There's something going on that this article is not telling us.”
“Why is the mayor laying off cops when he just got 4 million dollars last night, under the COPS grant, to retain officers?”
He’s right. Paterson received 3.7 million from stimulus money to hire 25 new officers, but none of the money could be used to save the jobs of any of the 59 officers it laid off. As I mentioned earlier, this is not about an increase in crime [it decreased]. It is not about a lack of police officers [59 were laid off], and it’s not about finances [the police department’s budget increased 1.3 million in the past year and now has an additional 3.7 million of stimulus money---totaling $5 million]. There is something missing here that is not being disclosed.
Could this be a “test city” under the guise of police lay-offs? It doesn’t hurt the city at all. Paterson will receive jacked up revenue from the salaries of 59 laid off officers, not to mention the money from the fines imposed on curfew violators. City officials may even raise property taxes, which many residents suspect. Cops won’t have to patrol except to search for violators. According to one of the comments here, the cops didn’t patrol one person’s street for 3 months. The ironic thing is, during the curfew the cops may be patrolling more often with even fewer officers than they did before.
Mayor Torres said the curfew would only last 2 months and prevents people from being outside between midnight and 7 a.m. Violators will face up to a $2,000 fine and 90 days in jail. Keep in mind, this is happening in America. In America, you will be thrown in jail and fined $2,000 for walking around outside in Paterson, New Jersey.
Can you say “Heil Hitler?”
Also posted at Prison Planet, here