| 01 Aug 2012 | 01:46

    There have recently been some strong negative comments regarding the West Milford Council’s decision not to fill two vacant police positions in order to keep the township’s budget as low as possible.In that regard there may be at least three positive ways to deal with those police cuts.

    First, the town council and administrator might consider the way that New York City dealt with its tight police budget.That city recently did a very careful statistical analysis (1) of the days of the week, (2) the times of the day, (3) the various types of crimes committed and (4) the geographical areas of the city in which those crimes occurred.Based on that study, they revised the police assignments so that higher levels of police presence would occur at the days, times and geographical areas indicated by their study.Fewer police were assigned when and where there was relatively little need.If West Milford has not done a careful analysis of that type, I would recommend that it be done.

    Second, when I moved to West Milford over 30 years ago, many areas of town organized “neighborhood watch” programs.The police educated members of each neighborhood on how their residents might set up a program to keep an eye out for various types of problems, and what to do about those problems, including notifying the police that their aid would be needed.An important aspect of such programs is crime prevention as opposed to police action after crimes are committed.

    I can think of two past examples of prevention at Pinecliff.First, after a father left for work, his sons (aged about 10 and 12) used his hunting rifles to take pot-shots at neighborhood dogs.Some Bearfort residents reported the problem to the parents and asked them to keep the guns locked up or out of the house.Second, an elderly diabetic often forgot to break his insulin needles before trash pick-up.Some teens noticed that, took the needles from the trash before pick-up and used them for shooting street drugs.Neighbors asked younger members of the diabetic’s house to make sure that the insulin needles were broken before the trash was put out for collection.

    A third possible way to compensate for the loss of those two police positions is to have strong community and school-based educational programs in an effort to reduce the crime rate in town. For example, Hepatitis C is a disease that is often caused by sharing “dirty” needles when using street-drugs. It can destroy one’s liver, ultimately be fatal, and has a relatively high rate in West Milford.Our town’s nurses have reported that Hepatitis C is often diagnosed in people aged 18-22.As the disease symptoms can take several years to appear, that age range indicates that the street-drug problems may start occurring in high school or even in middle school.So adding appropriate education on that issue to health and biology courses in our middle and high school, and also at parent-teacher meetings, may reduce the use of street drugs by our young residents, and thus reduce the need for more police. Community education on other topics may also help to reduce the need for additional police.

    Hopefully the township council, mayor, administrator, police and board of education will implement the above ways to reduce the need for police activity.There may be yet other positive ways to compensate for the decrease in the West Milford Township police budget.Some brain-storming among those groups on implementation of those and other activities may be useful.How about a committee of two council members and two police members to work on it?

    Doris Aaronson West Milford