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To protect life and property, prevent crime, preserve the public peace, arrest offenders against the law, enforce traffic regulations, protect school children and pedestrians, enforce local ordinances, check licenses, inspect buses, investigate applicants for licenses, conduct finger printing and record bureau, furnish court clerk, prepare evidence for trial, recover stolen goods, cooperate with other law enforcement agencies, conduct safety campaigns, receive and investigate over 3,500 complaints a year, take care of vacant houses, license and impound dogs, maintain automatic traffic signals, place sidewalk markings and street signs.
Its Personnel and Assignments
The various departments of the Township might be graded according to their relative importance, according to their efficiency, or according to their cost in comparison with departments in similar municipalities. No matter in which of these three ways the departments of the Township of Teaneck were graded, the Police Department would be near the top. It can be conceded that in any municipality the Police Department is of primary importance from the standpoint of the fundamental welfare and security of the taxpayer. In Teaneck its importance is enhanced because of the Township's location in the metropolitan area of New York. Not only does its proximity to New York throw extra burdens upon the Police Department in the matter of traffic, but since the opening of the new bridge a trip from the center of the Township of Teaneck to uptown Broadway can be made in less than 15 minutes. This bridge and highway offers an avenue of escape for criminals from the metropolis. So far this condition has been more of a threat than an actuality. It is quite probable that the reputation of the Teaneck Police Department has, and will have, a deterring effect on such criminal elements as might be tempted to operate within our limits.
As to its efficiency, it is enough to say that for its size there are few departments which can boast of the records made by the Teaneck Department in the apprehension of criminals and in the checking of crime, or of the generally high morale and esprit de corps.
While Teaneck can be proud of its Police Department, it has also been very generous in its appropriation. Analysis of the police budget for 1933 shows that 78% of the total of expenditures was for salaries, 9% for supplies and equipment, 10% for maintenance and 3% for pensions.
The per capita cost for the Police Department has decreased from $6.08 in 1928 to $4.50 in 1934. It is a Department which should show a constantly decreasing per capita cost from now on, for the Department requirements in the matter of neither personnel nor equipment will increase in direct proportion to the increase in population. Assuming the present population is 19,000, it is probable that another 19,000 people could be brought in without necessitating more than a 30% increase in the Department budget.
A recent official survey shows that the average per capita cost of Police Departments in New Jersey cities of the same population as Teaneck is $4.09, against Teaneck's $4.50. A further analysis of police expenditures here reveals that the cost of police protection is about 28% of all other governmental operating costs against an average of 13.7% for other New Jersey cities. This difference in comparative costs must be attributed to the fact that the police protection in the Township of Teaneck is kept at a high point of efficiency and the fact that the population is scattered over a large area, and that other departments are receiving below average appropriations. For instance, of the 100 miles of streets in the Township, about 75 of them are regularly patrolled, and in this work alone the Department machines last year covered 245,000 miles.
Reference to the table at the head of this section shows eighteen patrolmen available for general duty. It might be assumed that these patrolmen are divided up into three approximate shifts. However, this is not so. The necessity for taking care of a great number of crossings in Town to protect the children going to and returning from school, makes it necessary to have about ten men on the day shift.
Since 1930 the Department has lost two men, and both of these men were injured while performing their duties. Four other men were discharged for cause. Four new men were selected as the result of the competitive examination held in the spring of 1931. Until 1931, the Township bought the police uniforms, but upon the increase in salaries going into effect, this cost was transferred to the men themselves, who also furnish all of their other equipment, except revolvers and shield.
Rigid standards of discipline and training have been insisted on. Several formal and severe inspections were held before the entire Council. Aside from this, the officers and men are constantly inspected by their own higher officers.
No infractions of the rules or delinquencies, however minor, are allowed to pass without a complete report having been made thereon and subsequent action taken either by the Chief or the Manager, depending upon the gravity of the offense.
At frequent periods the entire force, as is the case with the Fire Department, is given dental, physical and medical examinations by the Township's dentist and physician. This is done to make the men more efficient and prolong their useful life to the Township by discovering in incipiency any disease or disorders. In two cases serious conditions were disclosed. The examinations in general resulted in the men having their teeth attended to and in their taking more care of their bodily health.
The Manager and the Chief also prepared a police manual of about eighty pages which gives in detail the rules and regulations governing the Department, the requirements and conduct of a member of the force under various circumstances, fundamental legal information, and a catechism on police duties. This manual before it was issued was checked over by the Police Magistrate.
Four of the men were sent to the New Jersey State Training School for municipal police. All of Teaneck's representatives made excellent marks with credit to themselves and the Township. The Township also had two representatives in a New York City Police School who took up special work in criminal identification.
The motorized equipment of the Police Department consists of four roadsters, three motorcycles, one sedan, and a small truck used by the Dog Warden. In addition to this the Detective-Sergeant uses his own car for which he is given a monthly allowance of $15.00. The four roadsters are used for patrol duty, and each roadster covers approximately 55,000 miles a year, consequently it is advisable to purchase new cars each year. They are bought upon open competitive bidding. Specifications provide that the successful bidder must, for a designated price, assume the maintenance of the cars for all reasons, except negligence or accident, for a period of one year. This method of maintaining the cars gives greater efficiency and service and has resulted in economics.
During 1933, 25,275 gallons of gasoline were used, all bought on bids, and as in the case of the Department of Public Works, at a considerable reduction below the retail price.
The following figures are taken from the Chief's 1933 report, and are given to show the magnitude and variety of the work handled by the Department.
Violation of Motor Vehicle and Traffic Acts
Summons issued for violation of the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Act Laws:
Summary of Arrests for 1933
Miscellaneous Services Rendered by Police Department
The fact that the Police Department recovers more property than is reported stolen is due to out of town automobiles picked up in Teaneck and returned to their owners.
One hundred fifty-six persons were finger printed. Copies were sent to State Bureau of Identification, Trenton, N. J., U. S. Bureau of Investigation, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., and Department of Correction, Albany, N. Y.
White Lines and Lettering-Painting
Lines and lettering on streets for the regulation and control of traffic-approximately 6,950 yards.
In addition to the above, the following was also accomplished:
A traffic map was made which shows the location of all accidents each year. During 1933 these totaled 333, the corners where traffic lights are already installed having the greater number of accidents. This map serves to point out the particular dangerous intersections which can then be studied in more detail with the purpose of rectifying any hazardous conditions existing.
A map showing routes of all buses was made. In cooperation with the bus companies, bulletin boards on which the bus schedules are posted were placed at important points. Buses are regularly inspected.
A complete record is kept of all summonses issued for traffic violations and once a ticket is issued a record is kept so that there is no way of side tracking it until the court has properly disposed of the case.
A system for issuing red warning tickets for minor infractions of the traffic laws has been instituted. Records are maintained at headquarters of the warnings issued, and the violator is required to recognize the warning by returning the ticket to the Police Department. A re-occurrence of the same offense calls for a summons.
Early in 1933, after competitive bids were received, a contract was awarded for the installation of a police broadcasting station. This system was of the ultra short wave type supposed to be especially adapted for police work in small municipalities. The company to which the contract for the installation was granted, soon encountered considerable difficulty, due to the fact that this particular type of radio transmission was still more or less in the experimental stage. The difficulties were enhanced by the character of the local terrain. The company spent about nine months, and a large amount of money, in an attempt to have the radio perform satisfactorily and consistently. For a short time during this period they were able to produce excellent results. Meanwhile, in accordance with the contract, no payments were made. Finally the company felt that it could not spend any more money on this installation, and the Township also believed that ample time, and opportunity had been given to them to reach the desired results. Consequently, by more or less mutual agreement, the system has been removed.
Sufficient results were obtained during the period of experimentation to prove that a local broadcasting station is of value to the Police Department. The plans are to study the results actually accomplished by like systems in other municipalities and to again ask for bids.
During the last eighteen months the officers have had intensive training in the use of the pistols. Each month every man in the Department is required to shoot at various distances and under various conditions.
The men of the Department on their own initiative constructed on the grounds of the Public Works Department, a pistol range which compares favorably with any in the country. It is equipped with four 500 watt lamps for night shooting.
Two tournaments have been held, at which pistol teams from many sections were represented, these events being among the largest staged anywhere.
The men have formed their own Pistol Team, which has met with considerable success in competitive matches. It was this organization which last fall, through a radio entertainment, raised sufficient funds not only to equip the team complete in every detail, and to employ an instructor for the force, but also to purchase sixteen riot guns which they donated to the Township. They also paid part of the cost of new revolvers for the entire force.
Peddlers and Solicitors
Recently the ordinance concerning solicitors and peddlers was revised and several classes of licenses provided for. In general it is impossible to require fees for permits from persons soliciting for the sale of articles which are afterwards delivered from another State, or from Veterans or Exempt Firemen.
The licensing of solicitors under a permit, for which no fee is charged, is provided. This was done because it was the experience of municipalities throughout New Jersey, that practically all solicitors were engaged in selling goods that came from out of the State. However, as it has worked out in Teaneck, advantage has been taken of this provision by persons who are really peddlers, who, while they do not turn over the article purchased when they make the sale, return a day or two later and deliver. The third class provides for peddlers or those who carry goods with them and go from house-to-house. The ordinance was amended to lower the fee required for peddling of foodstuffs. Naturally, because of the economic conditions, the number of people who are trying to make a living by peddling and solicitations, has vastly increased over ordinary times, and the attitude of this office has been to be as lenient as possible with residents of Teaneck, who, rather than ask for charity, are attempting to provide some little money for themselves by selling this or that from house-to-house. The Police Department enters into this peddling question, not only by apprehending offenders, but also by requiring a complete questionnaire to be filled out, which gives the personal and business histories of those wishing to solicit or peddle. The finger prints of each one are also required. Everyone who comes to the door of a house in Teaneck, should have a Township licenses which he is required to exhibit on request. Residents can cooperate with the Police Department in checking on unlicensed solicitors by reporting any person who fails to produce a permit. The ordinance has not been productive of much revenue, since 957o of the applicants are either veterans, exempt firemen or solicitors.
The Detective Bureau has been particularly active in criminal identifications, and has begun to use the more scientific method, which will enable the detective force to play an increasing part in solving the local crime problems. During 1933, 156 persons were finger printed and copies of the prints sent to Trenton, Washington and Albany for proper classification. A complete record is kept of all criminals coming into the hands of the Teaneck Police. This record includes a physical description of the person, his past criminal record, if any, a history of the crime, and the disposition of the case.
The Detective Bureau also makes finger prints of children upon the request of parents. Many families availed themselves of this method of positive identification. No record was kept of the names nor were copies of such prints retained, since the purpose was only to give the parents a means of identification in case of any one of the contingencies which might be imagined.
The Magistrate's Court as conducted in Teaneck is a dignified and judicial tribunal. The Magistrate, or Recorder, as he is known, has power to try cases involving the infraction of municipal ordinances and cases involving the motor vehicle law. Cases involving misdemeanors, or crimes, are sent to the District Criminal Courts of Bergen County, under the provisions of an act adopted several years ago by popular vote in the County.
The Police Department furnishes the court officers, and a member of the uniformed force now acts as court clerk at an additional saving to the Township. In 1933 the Court cost $900, and revenue in the amount of $636.50 was returned. All fines in motor vehicle cases are sent to the County officials, the law permitting the Township only to retain the costs. The fines as well as the costs for violations of local ordinances are turned over to the Town. The cases handled were divided as follows:
Special mention should be made of the attitude which the Judge has maintained in the handling of cases of juvenile delinquencies. A policy of constructive rehabilitation has been consistently followed, rather than a policy of incarceration.
Licensing of Dogs
Under a local ordinance the licensing of dogs is placed under the supervision of the Police Department. This licensing, catching and impounding of dogs, is handled by one man on a per diem basis, the total cost in 1933 being $1,026.95. The Warden is furnished with a Ford roadster equipped with a cage. A pound with cages is provided at the Township garage. In 1933, 1153 dogs were licensed with total fees amounting to $2,306.00. in addition to this 461 dogs were impounded. Of this number 14 were redeemed and 447 humanely disposed of. In 1932, 1074 dogs were licensed with total fees amounting to $2,148.00; 394 dogs were impounded, 24 redeemed and 370 disposed of. The ordinance requires that every dog, regardless of sex or age, must be licensed at a uniform fee of $2.00. When a dog is redeemed, a charge of $3.00 is paid.
Early in 1931 the policy was established that the owner of any licensed dog which had been caught and impounded, could recover such dog for the first time without the payment of the redemption fees, provided no complaints had been received against the dog. Any unlicensed dog caught, must, of course, be properly licensed before being released. As long as a dog is on the premises of his owner he is not picked up by the Dog Warden, since it is not considered that the Dog Warden has any power to enter on the private premises of any owner.
In all cases where persons are bitten by dogs and the Township has knowledge thereof, the Health Officer requires the owner to confine his dog for ten days for observation. This procedure is in accordance with the Health Laws of the State.
Traffic Marking and Signs
The erection of traffic signs of all kinds and the pavement marking is also a function of the Police Department. The actual work of erecting the signs, painting and marking is supervised by the same man who acts as Dog Warden. It is believed that the Town is well supplied with traffic signs of all kinds. There were 20 additional street signs placed during 1933. The pavement marking totaled 6,950 yards.
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
Tel.: (201) 837-4171, Fax: (201) 837-0410