Secaucus Police Chief Dennis Corcoran became a de facto member of the town’s governing body on Tuesday night, outlining an operation of additional patrols to address the “short crime spree” of house break-ins of late and taking questions and praise from residents on issues like radio reports and Feelgood Restaurant and Lounge.
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Secaucus Police Chief Dennis Corcoran said on Tuesday night that his force has bolstered local patrols with strong results duringing a “short crime spree” in town that has included five house burglaries.
Corcoran, a 32-year veteran of the force, became a de facto member of the town’s governing body last night as he eventually took a seat between business administrator David Druemler and town clerk Michael Marra on the council chamber dais, fielding pointed questions from one resident and praise from others.
Corcoran said a special detail of uniformed and detective officers have been assigned to residential neighborhoods in addition to the routine patrols already scheduled. That beefed-up force has resulted in nearly 400 vehicle stops, 99 summonses and 27 arrests on top of the normal police activity for those areas, according to stats the chief rattled off at the meeting. The operation is still underway.
The increased force has added 944 hours to police shifts and driven more than 4,700 miles on patrol, he said, noting added arrests included charges of DWI, driving under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, outstanding warrants, and criminal conspiracy to commit theft, among other offenses.
Among the recent incidents were a brazen break-in on 2nd Street earlier this month.
The chief said he would like to add six officers to the Secaucus P.D. to bring its ranks up to 63. He said grant applications have been filed and he felt that new recruits could be in the police academy by September.
“We’re pretty confident and hoping to get people in the academy by September,” he said.
Those grants would be important because, as Mayor Dennis Elwell pointed out, revenue from the town’s hotel tax is down amid the slumping economy. Three percent of the seven percent hotel tax goes directly into the town’s general fund and with healthcare and pension costs, even a rookie officer can cost the town about $100K. The chief did say that retirements of high-ranking officers could offset the costs of newer recruits.
Former Secaucus detective Robert Zych (pictured at right) pointedly questioned Corcoran at the meeting, arguing that more officers than the six requested are needed to properly police the town and questioning the removal of laptop computers from police vehicles.
Corcoran said the six proposed officers would meet the town’s needs and countered that police get vehicle registration and information about whether a vehicle is stolen over the radio as they can’t use a laptop while in motion. He said the only advantage of having patrol cars equipped with laptops is that officers can fill out reports on them.
Another resident questioned why police officers give hourly updates about their locations over the air, possibly divulging that information to criminals. But Corcoran said that practice, usually done on the half-hour mark of every hour, confirms that their radios are working and lets him know the officers are patrolling. He said the location wasn’t important because they are typically moving and somewhere else shortly after reporting.
A Golden Avenue resident addressed the mayor, council and chief about the Feelgood Restaurant and Lounge in the Plaza, saying late-night activity has awakened him on Friday and Saturday nights.
Corcoran said increased patrols in the area have continued and promised to follow-up on the complaints.
The resident said he had met with Feelgood’s owner who said he would be willing to pay for on-site parking and agreed to curb advertising the resident said was “salacious” and sexual in nature. (click to view an ad).
Elwell said the Plaza’s owner had previously been reluctant to lease parking to the restaurant/club.
The Secaucus Alcoholic Beverage Control board meets on May 4 to discuss Feelgood.
A full wrap-up of the April 14 council meeting is to follow.