SPARTA, NJ – In recognition for Police Appreciation Week, the township council had a proclamation in support of the local officers.

Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith read the proclamation into the record. She said, in part, “The Township of Sparta has always been proud of their police department for their unwavering dedication to service for our community…We express our unending gratitude to our Sparta Township Police Officers…particularly this year, given the challenges they encounter daily with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Chief Neil Spidaletto said he appreciated the proclamation.  He said he did not know about it until he heard Whilesmith read it. 

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Typically, police officers from all over the country, including from Sparta and Sussex County would be taking part in the Unity bicycle tour, riding from here to Washington DC where they would participate in the national memorial service for fallen officers.

The ride is a fundraiser for National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, also raising awareness about officers who have died in the line of duty. According to event organizers, 309 officers will have their names added to the “21,920 souls whose names live on the Memorial wall.”

This year officers Rob Fraser and Frank Schomp were going to ride again with Scott Elig as their support person.  Typically, the riders “adopt” a fallen officer, wearing a bracelet with the officers name and last date of duty.  Once in Washington DC at the memorial, the rider would meet up with the family of the fallen officer they were riding for.

This year a modified memorial service will be held at the site of the memorial.

Spidaletto also commented on Sparta having been listed as the ninth safest town in New Jersey in a survey produced by Safewise. 
“We try to be as proactive as possible,” Spidaletto said.  “We consider the people in the community our partners in reducing crime.” 

Spidaletto said the officers “are vigilant, paying attention to the smaller infractions” especially dealing with motor vehicle stops.  He said this helps to create a reputation for the town, serving to dissuade criminals from coming into Sparta.

The high-end car theft ring, the Famous Boyz, however, are not deterred, Spidaletto said.  They have no regard for law or safety.  They arrive in a neighborhood, typically in a stolen car, a Mercedes or Range Rover, with three or four gang members.  Once in the neighborhood they look for unlock cars with the keys in them.  In minutes they are back on the highway returning, in most cases, to Newark, Spidaletto said.

The other major issue still plaguing the community and throughout the state is the “Bail Fraud” calls.  Scammers, mostly targeting senior citizens, call to say they need bail money.  They ask for a Western Union wire transfer, gift cards and have even been coming to their homes to pick up the money.

Spidaletto said people should not be embarrassed.  “This is something that is happening hundreds of times a day in New Jersey.” He encourages people to contact police if they receive such a call.