MONTVILLE, NJ – In response to emails and calls that Township Administrator Victor Canning has received regarding what he termed “bias incidents,” Canning quoted statistics from police reports for the past three years at the Nov. 22 Montville Township Committee meeting.
He said in 2013 and 2015 there were one bias crime and one bias incident each year. There were no incidents in 2014. So far this year, there have been one bias crime and two bias incidents reported, Canning said.
“Although we should aspire to not have any, as a society and a community, these numbers clearly, as a former law enforcement professional, do not indicate we have a problem,” Canning said. “In my book, and I’m sure you all agree, one is too many, but it certainly doesn’t suggest that we have a problem, the way I believe it’s being presented. I don’t think the way it’s being presented out there is an accurate portrayal.”
Mayor Jim Sandham agreed that there is no trend in bias crimes.
“I think the entire committee acknowledges that these types of incidents are not looked upon favorably,” Sandham said. “We want to discourage those things from happening, but they are isolated incidents at this point, and we don’t see a trend. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it shouldn’t happen to begin with. We want to make that message clear. We support those people that brought the incidents forward. But again, we don’t believe at this point that we have a trend that we need to be overly concerned about as a Township Committee.”
Committee Member Scott Gallopo said communication has to be ongoing.
“While the statistics don’t bear out a trend, we have to work aggressively to make sure that these things do not pop up and that includes better communication from the public,” Gallopo said. “Our attention is on it, and we won’t tolerate it; when things happen we will act aggressively and quickly. This is not who we are; it has never been who we are. And it’s not something we want to become. I’m pretty sure I speak for my colleagues when I say this is not what we want to see in our town and we will do whatever we need to do to make sure it does not become a trend. We are not taking this lightly, and this is on our radar screen. This is not who we are and this is not what we want to become.”
To read about a recent OneMontville meeting, click here.