EAST ORANGE, NJ — Back again for another Facebook Live virtual town hall on Oct. 8, East Orange Mayor Ted Green began the meeting by announcing a total of 2,129 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 230 confirmed deaths due to the virus in the city. The meeting was geared toward public safety, parking and speeding, with special guests Police Chief Phyllis Bindi and Melody Scott from the Mayor’s Office.
Green urged viewers to let the city of East Orange know if stores aren’t complying with COVID-19 precautions.
“We still have to remain vigilant, we still have to continue to practice social distancing, we still have to continue to make sure we wash our hands for 20 seconds — this is so critical,” Green said during the meeting. “As we open up, you still have to make sure that people have on masks in the stores you go into. Make sure people are sanitizing the establishment.
“If you walk into a beauty salon, barber shop, supply store, food store, we’re asking you to please give us a call and allow us to go to that store owner and tell them that they cannot serve people if they’re not in the proper face mask or not sanitizing,” he continued. “East Orange, we need your help, your eyes and ears. If you have any questions, please call our health office” at 973-266-5480.
Bindi gave a detailed overview of the recent crime rates within East Orange.
“As of right now, we (have) a 14-percent decrease in overall crime and 7.5-percent decrease in violent crime in our city,” Bindi said during the meeting; she did not specify a time frame for this analysis. “Keeping in mind, we’re up against unparalleled reductions that we’ve had in the past two years under Green’s administration, that you’ve tasked us with,” she added, saying that East Orange’s current crime rate is the lowest it has been since 1967. “We are continuing to go in the right direction. Of course, there is always room for improvement.”
Though the city is headed in the right direction concerning crime, Bindi detailed the largest crime problems East Orange has.
“Our biggest problem right now that we’re facing is car break-ins and package thefts,” Bindi said, adding that this is extra concerning as Black Friday is approaching. “More and more houses are having packages come to their home. We do hand out prevention flyers; we encourage you to read it with regard to package theft and car break-ins, keeping your car secured, locked and closed. We do offer a plethora of ways to stop this crime. Your eyes and ears, along with our eyes and ears, and our technology in this city are what are going to get us there.”
Laser-focused on crime, Bindi said speeding is a huge issue for everyone.
“We do have signs posted, radar slowdowns, we do have them around the city, and we do move them and the message boards as needed,” Bindi said. “We also have a coordinated traffic enforcement to coincide with the hours of heightened or community concerns. So, that means the hour, the time, the date, you call it in, we track it, we map it, and, for license plate recognition, we continue to have that. We have radar enforcement, safety checkpoints that are strategically established during targeted days and effective hours. We will also bolster that enforcement with physical enforcement of engagement with the cars out there, doing radar and traffic slowdowns.”
The town is also relying on some newer technology and on the community for enforcement.
“We’ve recently reengaged our ICN, which is our Interactive Community Network,” Bindi said during the meeting. “With this, you can sign up online. You also can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up with her. This helps us have more eyes and ears in the community. You can take a snapshot of something you’re looking at, if we are not in your particular area at that point in time.”
Addressing other issues, such as parking and pedestrians behaving unsafely, Bindi revealed a new way EOPD will tackle these issues.
“With the double parking when you call that in, speeding and persons crossing against the traffic in the crosswalks, we’ve joined with the Sheriff’s Department in implementing cops in the crosswalks,” Bindi said. “We place officers in the crosswalk, and, if you are caught not adhering to the rules and regulations of the road, you will be summonsed. That is for the person crossing and the vehicle.”