Lakewood, NJ – Shomrim Born Out Of Lost Faith In Cops

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    Lakewood, NJ – The recent history between the Lakewood Police Department and the Orthodox enclave that defines the township is the reason many community members now say they’ve lost faith in the cops. “There’s a total lack of confidence in the Police Department in terms of their ability to do what’s referred to as community policing,” said Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, a member of the Vaad, an influential group of Orthodox leaders. “Confidence is at an all-time low.” And that hat lack of confidence has led to the creation of the Lakewood Shomrim organization.

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    The nascent group is a neighborhood watch, complete with a start-up Web site and a hotline for residents to call. Its burgeoning presence is an ode to the growing disconnect between the Police Department and many of the township’s 6,000 Orthodox families. “Everyone’s scared,” said Aaron Kugielsky, 24, a Lakewood resident and one of Shomrim’s organizers. “People stay home, especially girls.”

    Privately, some township and community leaders are wary of what the neighborhood watch could morph into. They fear rogue groups of young men who, convinced police officers are of no help, try to solve situations themselves.


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    ליפא שנילצער
    ליפא שנילצער
    17 years ago

    an article of 6/21/06
    ———————
    A neighborhood watch group within Lakewood’s Orthodox Jewish community has been formed in response to what some leaders say is a loss of faith in the Lakewood police department. Both sides need to work harder to restore that faith. Working together to develop an effective watch group could help.
    The group cannot be effective without active involvement of the police. Public Safety Director Al Peters should designate an officer with strong interpersonal skills and an appreciation of the Orthodox community’s needs to set the tone and establish the ground rules. Good communication between the department and the community is essential.

    The watch group, called a Shomrim — a Hebrew word for “watchers” — comes on the heels of three incidents within the past year involving members of the Orthodox Jewish community. The abduction and sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman last month, which is still unsolved, has been particularly unnerving. Neighborhood group organizers hope the presence of its 30 or so members — connected with cell phones and walkie-talkies — can make the community safer and provide some additional peace of mind.

    The neighborhood group organizers are modeling their efforts on a 15-year-old program in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn. Shomrim members there have identification badges issued by the police and a level of trust with law enforcement.

    “If we work hand-in-hand with the Police Department, they wouldn’t allow us to become vigilantes,” said Chaim Rubin, one of the Lakewood group’s organizers. He described its members’ role as neighborhood sentinels who call police when there is a problem.

    A close working relationship between the watch group and the police is a must. Peters and the Township Committee must do everything they can to foster it. And the Lakewood police must reassure the Orthodox community and all segments of the diverse township that all crimes will be investigated with an even-handed approach that respects the law and the people it serves.

    http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060621/OPINION/606210448/1029

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    17 years ago

    I use the internet at my own discretion. I only pay bills with it, play a few harmless crossword puzzles, check out the news and the “frum” Jewish blogs, listen to Shiurim, Rabbi Leff etc. I also like to give my 2 cents to these blogs because maybe I have something worthwhile to say.

    long time lakewooder
    long time lakewooder
    17 years ago

    I use the internet at my own discretion. I only pay bills with it, play a few harmless crossword puzzles, check out the news and the “frum” Jewish blogs, listen to Shiurim, Rabbi Leff etc. I also like to give my 2 cents to these blogs because maybe I have something worthwhile to say.

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    17 years ago

    the did ban the internet – so did they ban a chilul hashem .. and what these kids are doing is exactly that – so if they can make a chillul hashem why cant they atleast use the internet for that

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    17 years ago

    I thought the rabbonim in lakewood banned the internet earlier this year.

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    17 years ago
    Ferd
    Ferd
    17 years ago

    Maybe Peters is biased maybe he’s not. But he is definitely not “trying” enough to reach out to the shomrim.

    People mostly judge not by what he accomplishes, but what he “tries” to accomplish.

    So he will have build up trust with the people or eventually ship out. That’s how a democracy operates.

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    17 years ago

    Oy vey old lakewooder you have internet ?!? what is the website ?

    long time lakewooder
    long time lakewooder
    17 years ago

    I don’t stay home and I am not scared, but perhaps Shomrim is a good thing because we see how ineffective and biased our police dept. has become.

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    17 years ago

    I hope they work well with the police. this could be a good thing… just as it was in BP.

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    17 years ago

    It sounds to me that the Lakewood Police Dept most probably hates Jews……And arrests Jews but never anyone who harms Jews

    BSSP
    BSSP
    17 years ago

    Learning from experience

    Chaim Rubin and Kugielsky stood on a crowded street corner in Boro Park, N.Y., the brick-faced building of the 66th precinct behind them and a glimpse of Lakewood’s future before them.
    The Lakewood residents ambled into the precinct house and straight up to the captain’s office. They chatted a few minutes about Boro Park’s Shomrim, a civic watch program that has been in this section of Brooklyn for at least 15 years and has teamed the neighborhood’s large Orthodox population with the police.
    Shomrim members in Boro Park have police-issued identification badges and a built-in trust level with police.
    “Shomrim understands their role here,” said Capt. Peter De-Blasio, the commanding officer of the 66th precinct.
    As Shomrim launches in Lakewood, the community’s interest has been piqued.
    But Rubin doesn’t understand why anyone would be concerned. He often quotes the National Sheriff’s Association, which encourages neighborhood watches as a way to supplement law enforcement.
    “If we work hand-in-hand with the Police Department,” Rubin said, “they wouldn’t allow us to become vigilantes.”
    Rubin said he believes his group could soothe tensions and aid the police department.
    “It’s all communication,” Rubin added. “I think it’s how the Police Department paints the picture to the outside world.”

    The local picture is muddled, for now.

    Tensions in the township are high, especially after the recent simple assault charge filed against Elchonon Zimmerman.
    A private school teacher, Zimmerman was charged with assaulting a 15-year-old black youth who cut through private property on Lawrence Avenue. Police officials say when they arrived at the scene May 17, Zimmerman was kneeling on Jamarr Dickerson’s back.
    Dickerson has told officials from the Ocean County/Lakewood chapter of the NAACP that a group of men also ran out of a local synagogue and yelled racial slurs.
    The NAACP called the case a bias crime, but investigators from Lakewood and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office say they cannot prove anyone said the epithets.
    Still, a Township Committee meeting last month was canceled after rumors large groups of Jews and blacks would attend to confront each other. Mayor Meir Lichtenstein declined to explain the cancelation, but township sources say the fear of conflict was a reason.
    Then, at the following committee meeting, Warren A. Sherard, president of the NAACP, accused township leaders of having a double standard for police services and questioned why police are not working harder to find the men accused of the racial slurs.
    “The NAACP continues to insist this was a bias crime,” Sherard said. “The fact that other law enforcement agencies refuse to step up to the plate and call it what it is will not change our message.”
    Lakewood Public Safety Director Al Peters said it is difficult to reduce tensions because black community members feel the Orthodox community has received special treatment because no one was charged with yelling racial slurs.
    On the other side, Orthodox community members question why Zimmerman was made to take off his yarmulke, a traditional Jewish head covering, for police pictures.
    Many in the Jewish community are also frustrated and angry the department has made no arrests six weeks after a 20-year-old woman was abducted from outside the TrimGym Fitness Center on Route 9, sexually assaulted and then returned the next morning.
    The lack of arrests comes as community members have funded a $50,000 reward.
    “Neither community is going to be happy,” Peters said. “But the reality is I can’t overcome that. Their perception of what needs to be done is a false expectation.”
    Group building up
    Peters is a retired major from the State Police. His career didn’t focus on local leaders and small-town relationships — until Lakewood. Now, he is the face of what some see as an inept police force. Peters said the department — which he praised for handling the abduction and Zimmerman investigations properly — can always work to improve community relations.
    “It’s an enormously charged situation,” he said. “People need time to calm down.”
    Meanwhile, Shomrim continues to build a name for itself. The group’s hotline is well-publicized in the Orthodox community and Rubin said his group already has more than 30 members, connected with walkie-talkies and cell phones.
    Peters remains dubious about how the group will work because he has never been contacted by a representative of the organization. Rubin says that is not true and that, through intermediaries, Peters has shown reticence to meet with Shomrim.
    “It has the potential to be a great thing as long as it adheres to the neighborhood watch idea,” said Lakewood Committeeman Raymond G. Coles. “Watching being the key idea. What we can’t have is people getting involved in the mix of those situations.”
    Rubin said his group has no plans to physically confront people. Shomrim has no set patrol schedules and members will act only as neighborhood sentinels. He emphasized his group’s role is to be a service to the community — anyone can call the hotline at (732) 901-7600 — and to call the police quickly when there is a problem.
    “They’re just the eyes and ears,” said DeBlasio, the Brooklyn police captain. “The police are the ones that police the neighborhood. That’s the key. “