CLARK, NJ – The Clark Council presented Clark Chief of Police Pedro Matos with a proclamation at last Monday’s Council Meeting in support of the Click It or Ticket Campaign. The program is set to begin May 22 through June 4.
As stated in the proclamation, there were 604 motor vehicle fatalities in New Jersey in 2016. A large percentage of the individuals involved in these fatalities were not wearing their seatbelt.
“I don’t want to make it look like we are going to be out there papering the town with tickets, because that’s not really what it’s about," Matos said. It’s about increasing seatbelt usage. Today it is clear that seatbelts save lives and without a doubt it can prevent a serious injury.”
Councilman Frank Mazzarella said he had been involved in a motor vehicle accident in which his car was totaled just one week earlier.
“If I didn’t have my seatbelt on, it would have been a lot worse,” Mazzarella said.
Councilman Brian Toal reminded the public about the dangers of texting and driving, asking that all drivers remain aware and safe.
Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso took the opportunity to address the high schoolers in the audience about the important of safe driving.
“Let’s click up the seatbelt, and let’s absolutely say no to alcohol behind the wheel of a vehicle,” said Bonaccorso. “You know what’s really not cool? Is us going to one of the two funeral homes in Clark to your wake.”
“Its prom time. Its house party time. Clark Police will be out in droves,” said Bonaccorso about underage drinking. “And I won’t help you.”
Bonaccorso also reminded the community of the township’s underage drinking ordinance. “If the police department hears that there’s a party at your home, on your property, it’s not a private party,” warned Bonaccorso. “They have the ability through the township ordinance… to enter your property to stop an underage drinking party. And you can and will be charged.”
The Mayor went on to say that a lot of work and money goes into Project Graduation to keep the graduates of Arthur L. Johnson safe. He shared that last year some of the senior class were found drinking on the football field. “This year when you come off the bus we will have a police officer there to make sure you go home,” said Bonaccorso. “Its counterproductive for us to take you out all night long to keep your sober and safe… and then you go on the football field with coolers of beer…. This year that won’t go on.”
During his report to the council, Matos affirmed the CPD’s commitment to supporting Governor Chris Christie’s new opioid addiction initiative. Matos shared that while overdose deaths in Clark has declined, the use of Narcan has remained steady.
He went on to say that six out of ten overdoses involve opioids and, since 1999, the number of deaths involving opioids has quadrupled. Matos said that 91 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose.
“Clearly enforcement alone is not going to stop this epidemic,” said Matos. “Anyone can become addicted.”
Matos said that anyone suffering from addiction should feel safe approaching a Clark Police officer for help without the fear of being arrested. All officers can provide information on where to get help.
The CPD has also been using a new training platform thanks to a contract with the Rogers Group. This training program ensures that all state requirements are met.
“Its light years ahead of what we were doing before,” Matos said.
The new platform allows officers to fulfill requirements through online courses, without worry about scheduling conflicts, Matos explained. Officers are required to complete an assessment at the end of each module.
Officers are also in the process of a 52-week training program that started at the beginning of the year. “It consists of an 8-minute video every week,” said Matos. “It mainly covers the President's 2015 Task Force Report on 21st Century Policing.”
Bonaccorso took the time during his report to congratulate Police Captain Patrick Grady on his induction into the 200 Club for the work he did during an altercation with a suspect last fall. Bonaccorso said it was great to hear about the work being done in other communities around the county. “Very proud to be there and very proud to see another one of our officers receiving [the recognition].”
Matos also announced a new internship program that the CPD is rolling out. “A couple months ago Councilman O’Connor approached me about my thoughts on creating an internship program at the police department,” said Matos. “We can … benefit from having a college student who is being educated on new processes and new ways of law enforcement.”
Andrew Zub, the first intern through this new program, begins on May 22 and will stay on through August 7. Matos said that Zub will circulate throughout the CPD to experience what each area does.
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