Friday, January 16, 2015
Small Town Politics *Updated with video*
Here I go with controversy again. Although this time, I am actually not trying to be controversial. I just have some thoughts about what's going on in the town I live in and I'm curious if anyone has any answers.
I've lived in Glen Rock since 2006. I never really paid much attention to the real nitty-gritty of the politics. We even own a business here and haven't been too involved in politics. No one bothers us, we don't bother them. It's been fine. Neither my husband, nor I are from this town, so we don't even really know the players in any controversy. We know some of the police officers just from being out and about around town, setting our house/fire alarm off, and when I got my wallet stolen and filed a report in town in case it turned up here.
So, I didn't know anything about the current situation with the officers who have been suspended without pay- Officers McInerney and Scott. I had heard about a previous officer who had been let go under allegedly murky circumstances, but I didn't know him either and was just reading information here and there in the NJ news.
The meeting was supposed to be at 7:30. I got there at 7:15. I was lucky to get a parking spot because it looked like at least seventy-five people in the lot alone. Then I got up into the courtroom and luckily a friend saved me a seat because it was already standing room only. The room was PACKED. I found out later people I knew were there and I didn't even SEE them.
It got started and they immediately went into the situation. The two officers in question were there, their lawyers, the president of the PBA, officers from all over the state, and just a boatload of residents. It could've been anywhere from 250-500 people in total. The number has been different everywhere I've read about it. One by one, people spoke positively and passionately for these officers. People were ANGRY. They were booing, hissing, yelling, and throwing sarcasm. They had signs. I was waiting for tomatoes to be launched.
I know I've seen these officers around but I don't know them personally. So, I'm a totally objective resident, which is the point of this blog entry. I listened to each person speak. There were people these officers have helped, to people who have known them since elementary school, old teachers, friends, colleagues, relatives, and lawyers. It was seriously inspiring. I'd hope one of these guys would end up at any emergency call I could make.
The council just sat there pie-eyed & frownie-faced. As I guess they have to do. This is what I got out of it- Apparently, the police chief suspended these guys without pay or benefits. The council signed off on it. They claim they are not privy to why these men were suspended. They. Don't. Know. WHY. Not that they couldn't SAY why, which they basically said about everything else, but they don't KNOW. Meanwhile, what *I* do know, is that suspended without pay doesn't usually happen without it being something so bad that you wouldn't be able to keep a lid on it in such a small, talky town. So right there, the fact that no one seems to know anything seems odd, at best.
To me- the not knowing why or saying they don't know why- that's really the long and short of it and the main issue. This is where I need someone, anyone, to give me some clarification. The council is supposed to represent the people. Correct? The council has certain abilities and it's also their job to oversee the police department. Correct? So how does something like this happen? How are they able to sign off on something, something so major as to suspend without pay/benefits, without knowing the reason for it? And if they do actually know, and say they don't, then they're lying to their "boss", which is the townspeople. Correct?
Further, a special someone (I don't know the title) was hired to investigate further. At $350/hr. So now they're going to spend the townspeople's money on something they should've been able to already know and handle. Correct? Who just decides it's ok to spend that money? WHY does that money have to BE spent? All this is whole thing is going to do is cost the town more money, which translates into more taxes, in a town already bloated to the gills with taxes. Nevermind complaining about the schools costing the taxpayers too much money, how about stuff no one can even answer for that might've been pushed under the rug if these two guys weren't so beloved??
None of this sounds right to me. Like I said- I don't know the officers. They sound like fantastic men. Now I feel like I should know them. There were hundreds out in support of them. The council answered nothing. And I do understand that legally, they couldn't answer certain things. Maybe they couldn't answer the whys if they actually knew them. But to say they signed off on something but didn't KNOW why- well, that, to me, sounds shady as hell. Isn't it their job to know? And THEN, make decisions?
Rightfully, I'm concerned. Even if they give them back their jobs, how will it be to work there? A divided police department is good for NO ONE. It's sad and it's scary to think how that would even work. We do have problems here- real ones. Break-ins being a big one. We need a unified police department in the town I live and work in where no one just gets to go rogue and the council knows what's going on at all times.
Video of meeting: http://vimeo.com/116932890
Fundraiser for the officers: http://www.youcaring.com/other/officers-mcinerney-and-scott/292534
FB page in support of the officers: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-for-Christopher-McInerney-and-Brian-Scott/765441176881575