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Monday, March 28, 2011

WPD: The Exodus Continues


     Westfield police officers continue to submit their intentions to retire to town officials.  In recent weeks the number of officers with intentions to retire will drop staffing levels in the WPD to an all-time low.  Since Police Chief John M. Parizeau took over the department in 2006, when there were 59 sworn officers, the department has been depleted of its manpower levels to a point where numbers may fall below 50. 
     FBI research has concluded that police departments should staff 2.4 officers for every 1000 residents.  Taking the FBI's formula into consideration, Westfield's population would dictate approximately 70.5 sworn police officers be employed.

     The current staffing level within the Patrol Division, has been hit the hardest.  Supervisory staffing levels remain somewhat intact compared to the reduction of patrol and detective personnel.
    
     Recently, at the Board of Education/Town Council initiated WHS parking/traffic safety forum, it was revealed to the general public that school crossing guards are not supposed to be directing traffic and only crossing people at their assigned locations.  Westfield's consulting traffic safety engineer Gordon Meth stated, "Crossing guards are not really supposed to be directing traffic."  What his comment should have been was, "Crossing guards should NOT be directing traffic."  Refer to Chapter 7D "Crossing Supervision" of the the MUTCD for crossing guard rules. http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009/part7.pdf

     Gordon Meth is the same engineer that recommended the new pedestrian activated light be installed mid-block on Central Ave. and not at the original proposed location at the intersection of Central Ave. and Clover St.  If only G. Meth had realized that the pedestrian signal is "not really supposed to be installed mid-block."  Then again, politics seem to infiltrate the decision making process of most things in Westfield.
    
     With this recent revelation, it would be prudent to have police officers directing traffic at intersections where high pedestrian/motor vehicle traffic exists.  (Rahway Ave./Dorian Rd., Rahway Ave./Grove St., Rahway Ave./Willow Grove Rd.)  Each of these intersections is within the "grid" of what G. Meth has been hired to come up with a solution for with regards to pedestrian and traffic safety.  Police Chief John M. Parizeau stated that one of the first things he wanted to do as Westfield's Police Chief was to increase the size of the department's Traffic Safety Bureau.  Another promise of political proportions unkept.

     Replace crossing guards with police officers during school crossing times would require taking officers away from other patrol functions.  There have been times when there are no police officers patrolling the streets of Westfield.  This has occurred in the event they are tied up inside police headquarters with an arrest, attending court, assisting on a medical call or other circumstances requiring their attention.

     The need to staff the WPD with more sworn police officers is evident.  When will town officials recognize that by reducing the staffing levels at the police and fire departments they are "aiding and abetting" the criminals and "playing with fire."

The safety of our police officers and firefighters are at stake.  When that happens, the safety of the Westfield resident is at stake.

7 comments:

  1. Are any of the officers retiring the ones that got caught stealing from the town and are friends with the chief? Is it true that the attorney general of New Jersey is investigating the police department because the chief received favorable treatment from the Union County prosecutor during their investigation? Can you answer these questions please?

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  2. Westfield Police Chief John Parizeau has not revealed the name(s) of the police supervisors he had evidence of that were stealing time from the town by signing into work and not working their entire shift(s). They remained town employee(s) after the crime(s) were committed and the Police Chief chose not seek criminal charges against the supervisor(s).

    TFoTM has learned that the N.J. Attorney General's office is involved in a Union County Prosecutor's Office investigation regarding Chief John Parizeau.

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  3. Seems the crossing guards assigned to the busy intersections you mention do a decent job directing traffic at far less cost than a sworn police officer. Alternatively, special officers could direct traffic at these sites, still way more cost efficient than a full fledged police officer. As for a manpower shortage---just passed two police cars watching J Fletcher Creamer fix a pipe at Cambridge and Boynton. Two officers doing nothing, while contractor works. Directing traffic at this serene location could be done by a 7th grader. Obviously no shortage of officers today.

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  4. You are correct that the crossing guards are cost effective, however they are not supposed to direct traffic as per the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Special Officers are often being used for parking enforcement during the day and those that are gainfully employed in other professions only direct traffic on weekends.The officers working at the location you mentioned are typically "off-duty" officers working on their day off. The contractor is required to hire a police officer while working in the roadway. The requirement to have a police officer at a construction location, in this case the serene location of Cambridge & Boynton, outweighs the ability of a 7th grader's traffic directing skills.

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  5. Keeping the flow of traffic moving is just as important as crossing the children safely. With just a little training I'm sure the crossing guards can do both very effectively and it wouln't cost a police officers salary to do it. Maybe it's the officers that don't want them to do it. Would you rather direct traffic or catch a criminal?

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  6. You have a very valid point. However, the MUTCD (Manual on Traffic Control Devices), which is the "Bible" of traffic safety officers and traffic safety engineers, specifically states that crossing guards are not supposed to be directing traffic. A link has been provided in the above topic to review the MUTCD. There are a lot of officers that do not like to direct traffic but that alone does not justify the use of civilian crossing guards to direct traffic at school crossing locations.

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  7. Do the crossing guards get paid extra for high traffic/ danger crossing posts?

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