I had my bike stolen from the Cranford train station last fall. It was a black Diamondback 18 speed beauty, and more importantly one of the few remaining vestiges of my childhood growing up in a small Pennsylvania town. My hometown was the kind of town where “everybody knows your name”, a town with small shops, restaurants and good people – we weren’t from the wealthiest town in the county, but we had a sense of grit, a sense of community that, after my post-college experience in Hoboken and commuting to Times Square every day, I never thought I would find again.
My wife and I stumbled upon Cranford two and a half years ago when house hunting. Our first time driving under the iron bolt-studded “Welcome to Cranford” bridge in the center of town we both felt an indescribable draw to the town, this town was different than Summit, different than Westfield and Maplewood or other surrounding towns. Whether it’s the food, the people, the parks, the active clubs, there is something for everyone here, even for an ostensible outsider like me.
That’s why I’m writing to you, and this is not something I’ve ever done before. I am writing because I was so saddened to learn about the recent budget cuts to reduce the size of our police force. To me, our force holds the fabric of this town together. When was the last time you drove down South Avenue, or got off exit 136 on the Parkway and didn’t see one of our town’s finest patrolling the area. Their day jobs are to protect our community, and they do it extremely well. Check the police blotter to see some of the situations they are involved with on a daily basis and the types of drugs they are keeping off our streets and out of our town. It’s not just their daily work, check out their Facebook page to see all of the things they do above and beyond their day to day to make this town what it is. As our town grows, we need a police force that is well equipped, and more importantly, well-staffed to maintain the Cranford that we know and love. My fear is that if we begin to erode the police force, we are undermining an institution that promotes the safety and sense of community that makes Cranford special. Our taxes are increasing by on average $34.59, and we are losing two police positions. This is a trend that I find troubling. I urge the Township Committee to reconsider its recent budget and allow the town to hire a new officer (as was approved and promised in last year’s budget) and replace the officer that retired last year.
Back to my stolen bike, I called the police office to file a report. There was an officer in an unmarked car at my home in 3 minutes.
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