IRVINGTON, NJ — When the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its 2017 compilation of crime statistics and Irvington Township ranked 20th in the nation for crime reduction, the Municipal Council passed a resolution at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9, commending the Police Division, Public Safety Department Director Tracy Bowers and Mayor Tony Vauss’ administration for this national recognition.
The vote was not unanimous however.
“My decision not to support this resolution was because the residents of the East Ward don’t feel safe,” East Ward Councilman Paul Inman said Thursday, Oct. 11. “They are afraid to sit on their porch or walk to the corner store. Knowing this, I couldn’t support that resolution. I would like to see more police in the East Ward.”
Inman, who asked for the resolution to be separated from the consent agenda so it could be voted on separately, said he had good reasons for voting against the resolution.
“On Oct. 1, I had a community meeting in the East Ward and residents said they didn’t feel safe and wanted to see more police presence in the East Ward,” he said. “We had an Oct. 4 shooting on 20th Avenue and Ellis Avenue. A man was shot two times. The injuries were not life-threatening, but he still got shot.”
Inman said he knows of several other incidents in town that highlight the fact that Irvington isn’t as safe as some people would like to believe, which is why he voted against the resolution commending Vauss, Bowers, and the Irvington Police Division, although the township did recently celebrate its third consecutive summer without a homicide.
“On Sept. 24, two males were shot on Green Terrace in the South Ward. On Sept. 19, there was a drive-by shooting on Elmwood Avenue. One male was shot. There was another shooting on Sept. 16 on Chancellor Avenue and Martin Place. One man was shot,” Inman said. “It is great that the homicides are down, but people are still being shot. Just in the last eight days, people were shot. On Sept. 8, a man was shot at Clinton Avenue. It’s all over town. Martin Place and Green Terrace Park are in the South Ward. How, in good conscience, with all these shootings and incidents that have taken place all over town, can I say ‘Let’s give the mayor and the police director an award?’ ”
“All this information is factual and it all happened in the last 30 days,” he continued. “None of my council colleagues should have voted for this resolution. If you live in the East Ward and you don’t see the stuff that’s going on, then shame on you. We have the most challenging ward in town.”
Inman said he voted against the resolution because he believed it was the right thing to do for his constituents.
“I’m ready to show the residents that I’m not with the mayor, the council or Team Irvington Strong,” Inman said. “I had the community meeting on Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. at the senior building on 15th Avenue. We had people from all over the East Ward.”
Municipal Council President and North Ward Councilman David Lyons said Inman might believe he’s doing the right thing, but he’s also missing the point.
“We never said there was no crime,” said Lyons on Monday, Oct. 15. “However, it is true that Irvington ranked 20th in the decrease of crime. I’m sure the No. 1 city still has crime. Again, with all the crime that Irvington had in previous years, coupled with the fact that our police department is understaffed, coming in 20th is a huge accomplishment. The majority of the council felt likewise. But each councilperson votes as they wish. For me, it was easy.”
Vauss agreed with Lyons.
“The resolution was honoring me and Tracy and the (Police Division) on the dramatic reduction in crime,” said Vauss on Thursday, Oct. 11. “This resolution was just to acknowledge the works of the men and women in our Public Safety Department and the leadership, which includes the director and myself and also the rest of the council members. Councilman Inman’s ward is one of the more challenging wards. Regardless of his feelings, these are (statistics) that come from the FBI. Irvington is the only town or city in New Jersey that was recognized on this list and I think that’s something for every man, woman and child in this community to be proud of.”
“It’s very disappointing, because everybody should be proud of their hometown. Everyone should be glad that we’ve had the lowest crime since 1970,” Vauss continued. “We had zero homicides in the summer for three years in a row. It’s also a slap in the face, to the men and women in uniform that worked to hard to make our town safe, that the councilman refused to acknowledge their work.”