September 2, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 3 Midland Park More police control urged at crosswalks, intersections A couple of residents asked the Midland Park Mayor and Council last week to look into ways to slow down traffic on busy borough roads and to enforce the law on yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks. Police Chief John Casson, present at last week’s meeting of the governing body, was charged with putting together recommendations to improve the problem. “Give us some options,” Mayor Joseph Monahan told the chief. “Don’t preclude solutions because they are expensive. We don’t want to eliminate options,” he added. The mayor suggested that the county be asked to assess conditions on the county roads as well. Rich Formicola of Kew Court said that he often walks his baby around town and has great difficulty safely crossing some streets because drivers do not stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. “It’s not a reflection on our police department,” he said. “When people see me, they are not even thinking of stopping. They’re usually on the phone.” Nancy Bargmann, who lives on Franklin Avenue only three houses away from the Vreeland intersection, said there are too many accidents at that intersection. The chief set this figure at four to six a week. “I can hear people speed up as they are coming around the bend,” she said, suggesting that more vigorous enforcement of speed limits would be a possible solution. “Word gets around. If you have a crackdown for a few weeks and issue tickets, drivers will know about it. That will get the word out that you can’t get away with it,” Bargmann said. She asked that the Franklin/Vreeland signal, which is now a blinking light, be made fully operational. She also suggested traffic bumps and/or a four-way stop, which Casson said are not viable options. A solution to the traffic problems in front of the post office on Godwin Avenue might be even harder to come by. “Given the conditions, there is not much we can do, except ban parking on one side of Godwin, and that would have the merchants screaming” Casson said. Formicola noted that in Ridgewood there seems to be a dedicated patrolman to keep an eye on traffic. The chief said that Ridgewood has a full-time traffic control unit. He explained, however, that even when he parks a cruiser with the lights flashing in front of Friendly’s, people do not slow down or yield to pedestrians. “There is no place to turn around and go after them,” he said. “It’s a shame people are so irresponsible.” Casson added that cars coming uphill have poor visibility and are focused more on not hitting any parked cars or pedestrians weaving between cars. He said warning signs on Godwin announcing the crosswalk and urging people to slow down had been run over almost instantly in the past because of the narrowness of the roadway. Police department gets grant for inkless fingerprinting The Midland Park Police Department hopes to soon be able to do away with messy fingerprinting. Inkless electronic fingerprinting will take its place thanks to funds from the state’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At the request of Chief John Casson, the borough council last week authorized accepting the grant, which provides LiveScan fingerprinting and digital mug photo equipment to police departments which do not have it. Licensing and software/hardware maintenance costs for a three-year period are also part of the grant. Casson said the equipment costs about $25,000 to purchase, and the maintenance and licensing run about $2,400 per year. The borough will have to pick up this cost after the threeyear period. A dedicated telephone line is expected to be the only other cost. The LiveScan technology digitizes the unique fingerprint characteristics and enables the electronic transmission of digital criminal fingerprint cards and mug photos to the New Jersey State Police Bureau of Identification 24/7 for background processing. This process provides rapid and accurate identification of a suspect while still in custody. Once final and positive identification is made through the NJSP Automated Fingerprint Identification System, the New Jersey Computerized Criminal History is updated and an electronic response is sent back in an hour or less. The prints are then forwarded to the FBI fingerprint identification system, if required. Automated background checks can then be processed in less than half the time: within 72 hours for those without criminal records and in up to 30 days if there is a criminal record. Under the current method of sending rolled ink fingerprint cards through the mail, processing takes 10-12 days if there is no criminal record, and up to 60 days if there is a criminal record. “This is a great benefit to the borough. We’ll be getting for free something which I suspect will ultimately be mandated, and there are no strings attached,” Casson said. “We’ll get the results within minutes, something which now takes 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the cooperation of the individual being processed.” Another benefit, he said, is that LiveScan also avoids many of the problems associated with ink prints, such as smudging, smearing and over or under inking. With pending legislation that will require fingerprinting for all arrests, the LiveScan is expected to become an essential law enforcement tool. Casson said the department handles between 60 and 80 arrests a year, plus background checks for firearms permits. He explained that several years ago an area department had acquired the equipment in hopes of regionalizing the process. Casson said, however, that the logistics did not work out for sharing such equipment, noting that (continued on page 23) REGISTRATION FOR 2009-2010 SEMESTER