CHIEF TALKS HOT TOPICS ON THE WEST SIDE

westside-group21Red Bank Police Chief Steve McCarthy gave a crime update to West Side residents Wednesday night, part of his monthly meeting at River Street Commons. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank Police Chief Steve McCarthy comes to River Street Commons every month, and usually opens up with a crime update.

While it’s an important element of his regular appearances in front of the West Side Community Group — especially this month, with a rash of violence on the West Side — it’s only one reason for the visits.

It’s on nights like these he gets to hear the concerns from residents. And they have plenty.

Such as: when will Red Bank get another traffic light on Shrewsbury Avenue? Can the borough require for bicyclists to have lights on at night? Can anything be done about the noisy cars ripping through residential neighborhoods?

McCarthy doesn’t have the answers to all these questions, but made one point clear: He’ll listen to the concerns and try to find an answer.

“We can’t do everything,” he said, “but we’ll try.”

Good enough for Shawn Harrison, who moved to Red Bank in June. The meeting was his second with McCarthy.

“Tonight was a lot better than where we were at my first meeting,” he said. “We got a lot more answers, and to see two council members (Art Murphy and Mike DuPont) here was a real big plus.”

Harrison expressed concern on a number of topics, from the police budget to getting more patrols in the area of River Street Commons.

A major concern among the crowd of a couple dozen was traffic safety. Many wondered why there aren’t crossing guards on heavily-traveled roads like Shrewsbury Avenue, and why there were no bicycle patrols by borough police this year.

Short answer: the budget. McCarthy explained the different elements of the department, and how certain things are structured — for example, he explained that Shrewsbury Avenue is a county road, so the borough can’t just install a traffic light tomorrow.

Nobody prodded about the recent activity on the West Side, though. There has been a stabbing, a bullet found after reports of gunfire and a fight in which a gun went off, all within weeks of each other. The incidents appear to be unrelated, McCarthy said, but police continue to investigate.

Though no one brought them up, the incidents have been a hot topic in the neighborhood, McCarthy said afterward.

“People are concerned,” he said. “It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. They’re not apathetic.”

Harrison, at the end of the meeting, was clapping his hands and smiling, feeling better about moving to town, he said.

“A lot of this is not just for crime watch,” he said. “It’s about what’s going.”

The West Side Community Group meets every second Wednesday of the month at 7p at River Street Commons, though the December meeting will not be held.