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The Justice System Has Failed Us

Acting Police Chief Roman McKeon speaks at the 4/10/17 Caucus
*Photo by Carolyn Maxwell

4/12/17 Council Meeting

PERTH AMBOY – During the Meeting, resident Ken Balut asked about the crime stats in the City, stating, “It’s up 20% this year, especially with stabbings and shootings.”

Resident David Caba said “The crime is getting out of control.” Caba also invited Business Administrator Adam Cruz to take a walk with him on Smith Street on a Friday evening between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. “We can walk from Grace Street all the way down to the Waterfront.”

Cruz told Caba, “We can do the walk at 1 a.m. if you want to.”

Caba continued, “To lesson crime, we have to be together. We can all learn from our mistakes and it’s the only way we can make it better. It’s because I care. You (the Council) all have your personal lives, but you care because your all sitting up there. When we get crime numbers like this, we have to make it better. Don’t hide crime.”

Business Administrator Cruz answered stating, “I go to Neighborhood Meetings and I tell all who attend to report crimes so that we can allocate the necessary resources to that area.”

Ken Balut stated later about the Police Blotter that stopped. “We are averaging 5 arrests a day and you can’t stop the heroin epidemic if you put on blinders. Cops used to walk the beat.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez asked Acting Police Chief Roman McKeon to come forward in response to statements made by residents regarding criminal activity in the City. When McKeon came forward, he said, “I am glad to be able to answer some of these comments.” In regards to burglaries, McKeon stated, “There was one case where an individual who had served 5 years in prison because of burglaries and was released. He committed burglaries again shortly thereafter and was arrested 4 times. Because of the new bail laws, he kept getting released instead of being jailed again (as per past laws). That individual even had a tracking bracelet attached to his ankle. After all of that, he was finally jailed. Yes, it’s true we arrested 50 people for heroin possession. They were released because of the new bail reforms. The justice system has failed us and we are not getting any help. You can’t arrest yourself out of heroin addiction so you have repeat offenders. We are trying to hunt criminals down and that’s why we can’t always publicize some cases. A lot of people report crimes with guns involved, then they recant their stories. Because of investigative purposes. We can’t publicize a lot of crimes. There’s one case where a crime was committed in Staten Island and they dropped the victim off in Perth Amboy. There’s a case where there was a house party where criminal activity took place, but the witness did not want to cooperate. We had a lot of incidents that happened in a short period of time. The Mayor is very supportive of the Department as she has never told me what to do. We are not the only community that has a heroin problem. I’ve talked the Mayor of Woodbridge and they are also having the same problem. I’ve been answering calls in order to help out the offices in our Department. Public awareness is very important. Most of the crime committed is between people who know each other. There is very little random criminal activity. We are a small city with big crime problems but some other cities would like to have the same statistics we have because they have much worse criminal activity.”

McKeon expressed his case with this powerful statement: “It’s 3% of the criminal population who commit 90% of the crime in town.”

Councilman Joel Pabon expressed his gratitude to McKeon stating, “In my 6 years on the Council, this is the first time a Chief of Police gave me an in-depth explanation of criminal activity. We just asked if you can give us a heads-up on the crime going on. It doesn’t have to be very detailed. We (the Council) just don’t want to be caught off guard by residents who asked us did we hear about certain criminal activity that they said took place throughout the town. When you break down the numbers, you can see how crime stats play out.”

McKeon also told the Council, “In the last 3 days, we had 3 Narc cases where our Police Officers saved their lives.”

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