Be careful of what you wish for Residents groaning about stepped up traffic enforcement

After weeks of complaining about speeders and other traffic violators at Town Council meetings, Secaucus residents may finally have what they asked for: increased police presence on the streets and enforcement of moving violations.

But not everyone was asking for stepped up enforcement, and now that it’s here, not everybody is happy about it.

The increase actually came thanks to a directive from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office regarding speed limit enforcement, which was issued to state, county, and local law enforcement agencies.

“The day before July Fourth I received one speeding ticket, and a warning,” said resident Linda Silvano last week. “My daughter also got a ticket, over on County Avenue. I don’t know where all the cops are coming from all of a sudden.”

Although it was a Secaucus officer who pulled over Silvano’s daughter, the elder Silvano said she was stopped by two county cops.

In fact, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, whose officers are participating in this statewide initiative, have been highly visible in Secaucus over the past two weeks.

Some residents complained last week that they were blindsided by the recent ticket blitz, and they speculated that the town received no notice that officers from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department would be issuing traffic tickets in Secaucus.

Not being ‘singled out’

But Hudson County Sheriff Juan Perez said the town is not being “singled out.”

“Secaucus is not the only area subject to this initiative. This is a statewide effort to curb excessive speeding because speeding causes deaths,” Perez stated. “We were notified by the State Attorney General’s Office. We’re didn’t spearhead this initiative. So it wasn’t up to the county to notify local police departments. We were just part of the notification cycle. We’re just one of the participating law enforcement agencies enforcing this.”

Perez maintained, however, that since he took office in January of this year, he has been more proactive about participating in statewide law enforcement efforts than his predecessor.

As a result, he said, “Our officers may be more visible now than they have been in the past.”

Perez refused to comment on whether his officers were focusing on specific streets or areas of town. Anecdotal evidence indicates that they tend to favor Paterson Plank Road and County Avenue, where speeding has been a problem recently, although residents have been ticketed on some of the more residential streets as well.

The sheriff also refused to estimate how many tickets may have been issued in Secaucus since this initiative began several weeks ago.

Dennis Corcoran, Secaucus police chief, said he was not aware of the statewide speeding enforcement initiative, but that traffic violators should expect to be pulled over in Secaucus.

“Just speaking for our own police department, I can say that we are very proactive,” Corcoran said last week. “We look to stop motor vehicles because we know it has an effect. People slow down when the see cars being pulled over. Our officers are told to be proactive when they see a driver doing something wrong. But the officer always has discretion to issue a warning or a ticket. What we’re really trying to do is change behavior.”

Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell said he has not received any complaints about the increased enforcement, although he said he wasn’t surprised to hear that some residents were unhappy about the matter.

“My guess is the people who are complaining about this increased enforcement are not the ones you see coming to the Town Council meetings asking for increased enforcement,” the mayor said. “But the bottom line is, if it gets people to obey the law, then it’s a good thing and we welcome it. We want Secaucus to be known as a town where laws are going to be enforced.”


© 2000, Newspaper Media Group