WEST SIDERS DEMAND BETTER SECURITY

Img_9501Two Montgomery Terrace residents confer with Human Relations Commmittee member Henry Tindall, center, and Red Bank Police Lt. Mike Clay after last night’s HRC meeting.

Montgomery Terrace residents last night called for more attentive policing, leaseholder ID cards and other security measures in the wake of the Monday shootings at the apartment complex that left two adult brothers in critical condition.

Other West Side residents, meanwhile, said the crime underscores the need for both a West Side police substation and a community center to give youngsters constructive activities and perhaps ward off future such incidents.

Tabitha Jamison, a Montgomery Terrace resident, said that just outside the doors of the 40 units at the borough-owned apartment complex are men loitering, shooting dice and drinking, yet the police make little effort to determine whether they live there or to shoo them away when residents call to complain, she said.

“What do you do when you are a good citizen? Do you stay in your apartment?,” she said. “A bullet has no one’s name on it. I don’t want to drive into my complex and have my son seeing illegal activity.”

Img_9461Celestine Stone of Leighton Avenue speaks at the meeting.

“If we don’t get a handle on this, who’s to say one of our babies won’t be the innocent victim of somebody else’s malice?” asked Celestine Stone, of Leighton Avenue. “A lot of this violence is by people who don’t even live in Red Bank, and it takes away from the good people who live here.”

About a dozen West Siders and others turned out for last night’s meeting of the Human Relations Committee, an advisory body whose agenda was otherwise dominated by questions of where to erect a sign touting Red Bank’s inclusiveness and whether to hold a public discussion of the novel, “The Kite Runner.”

Linda Clark of River Street told the committee that the book discussion is “great… but the kids are dying out there on these streets, and the parents are feeling helpless.” A lifelong borough resident, she recalled having hung out on street corners as a kid because then, too, there was nothing for the young people to do.

Rallied by three incidents of gunfire at Montgomery Terrace in recent years as well as an apparent upsurge in West Side crime generally, the residents said the police must be more responsive than they’ve been in the past.

Jamison said that when residents call to complain, they’ll first knock on the caller’s door, and then say to the loiterers, “She’s complaining — turn the music down.” No-loitering rules, which are posted on signs in the complex, are not enforced, she said.

Police Lt. Mike Clay, who attended the meeting, said that the police do what they can within the restrictions of the law. But he said the department has boosted patrols since Monday night and is taking the residents’ concerns seriously.

Councilman John Curley, who is a member of the HRC, said that despite his general aversion to increased spending, he is in favor of both the creation of a police substation on the West Side and of hiring additional police officers.

“The town has outgrown its services,” Curley said. “Rather than going out to buy a fire truck, put on four new police officers,” he said, prompting a burst of applause.

The idea for a community center, meanwhile, is “in limbo,” though he did not elaborate.

The West Siders said they will try to muster turnout for the next meeting of the borough council, scheduled for 5:30p on Wednesday, Dec. 5, instead of the usual bimonthly Monday session.

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