Sunday, September 30, 2007

Police could have handled this problem better

Acting Teaneck Police Chief Fred Ahearn said about a half-dozen Thomas Jefferson students got summonses for jaywalking. He declined to discuss the details in the case of the girl placed under arrest.

Police say the crackdown, done at the request of the school principal, was successful. They say kids will stick to the sidewalks of Hartwell Street, where frazzled residents have complained about their litter and conduct. That's successful?

With all the frankness and anger that came out at the meeting Wednesday, the police may have better insights into black parents' allegations that their kids were singled out. Claiming instances of selective enforcement in the issuance of jaywalking summonses, several speakers cited Orthodox Jews frequently walking Teaneck streets in large groups, crossing streets and slowing driving on the Sabbath to a crawl.

Police denied showing favoritism or targeting African-American children. Ahearn and a traffic division officer, Lt. Robert Carney, said the middle school was not singled out: Teaneck High School students got a few summonses, too.

"I don't know what race was brought back to the school," Ahearn added. "We don't enforce the law by race, religion, creed or ethnicity." The denials fell on deaf ears.

Police explained their heavy-handed ticketing tactics at Thomas Jefferson as protecting the children. Acting in the spirit of the maxim, "It takes a village to raise a child," parents, police, preachers and educators work together to instill the village's values.


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