WHAT YOU THINK: The Demarest mayor and council have apparently decided to ignore the voice of their constituents by holding a closed-door meeting tonight to determine whether to have the Bergen County Police take over the duties of its proven and well-regarded standing police force.
The citizens of Demarest more than once have expressed their concerns publicly over this radical takeover. Still, the mayor and his cohorts on the council have used state cutbacks and budget constraints as the mortar to grind representative government into the ground.
The Demarest Police Department has nothing less than a sterling reputation. It’s unfair to make it a pawn in the Bergen County Police Department’s bid to stay in business.
From here, it looks like county Executive Kathleen Donovan essentially wants to have the entire policing system in Bergen County handled by one agency.
What worries the large group of us opposed to the move is the speed with which the issue has been addressed.
Shouldn’t there be an opportunity for the citizens of Demarest to determine whether their considerable tax dollars should go to a stable and well-integrated police force for the town or toward an untested commodity — one whose street experience consists of patrolling central arteries to and from the shopping malls?
This initiative is as unproven as it is unpopular.
So we ask: Why the rush? Why the secrecy? What’s wrong with a public referendum, so that we, the taxpayers, are fairly represented?
CLIFFVIEW PILOT EXCLUSIVE: Members of the Demarest Council’s Republican majority said they favor becoming Bergen’s first municipality to have the county police department take responsibility for public safety within its borders. A meeting with county officials is set for Thursday.
The proposed arrangement includes Demarest Police Chief James Powderley III taking a supervisory role at the county level, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Everyone in Bergen County is looking at Demarest right now.
So what our elected officials do about this issue will not only affect us directly: It will have ramifications for other municipalities and their stakeholders, as well.
Shouldn’t the message we send be that the voice of the people in our town — or in any town — is what matters most?
Ken Cirelli is a documentary filmmaker who has also consulted with several corporations on social networking strategies. His clients have included IBM, Goldman Sachs, Avon, Intel Motorola, Cambridge University, to name some. He has made Demarest his home for the least 22 years and considers it a wise choice. He’s considering leaving, however.