Monday, March 17, 2008

The luck of the Irish

Feinberg says residency matters

It’s been an interesting day.

Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg has ruled that Trenton’s residency ordinance does indeed matter and the appointed police director should indeed be a bona fide resident of the City of Trenton.

That said, there are a lot of questions.

The first is: if an appeal is made, does Santiago keep his position?

At this writing, the information at hand indicates, “No,” he loses his position until such a time as an appeal is heard and Judge Feinberg’s ruling overturned.

What about a stay of the judge’s decision?

Sources feel it’s not likely to happen.

What happens in the Trenton Police Department?

When given the news this afternoon a friend asked, “Who’ll be in charge now?”

Of course, if there were still Deputy Chiefs within the TPD, one of them would possibly be given the responsibility…at least in the interim while the dust settled and the picture clarified.

With a lack of DC’s, there are a number of Captains currently on the force, several of whom are qualified by experience and tenure to step up.

The truth is, as big an event as this is regarding the battle between the citizens and the supposed powers of the Mayor, what matters now is what comes next. What happens now on the streets and in the neighborhoods of Trenton?

There has been a lot of energy and verbiage expended on why Joseph Santiago was not an appropriate person to head up Trenton’s Police Department. Despite his alleged claim not to go until served with a legal document (and in contrast to a previous statement that if he had to move here to keep the job, he’d leave), Santiago’s tenure has timed out.

Has anyone really thought about what will come next?

Members of the TPD and the public alike need to seriously examine their approach to “life after Santiago?”

For those who felt that Santiago was doing a great job, how are you going to carry on in his absence? Will you continue to be involved or will you walk away in disgust and disappointment that things haven’t gone your way?

A similar question can be posed to those who have stood and questioned the effectiveness of Santiago’s tenure as police director. Now that his residency “waiver” has been nullified, are you going to go back inside your homes in self satisfied silence that one perceived “evil” has been eliminated from our downtrodden city?

And to the long-suffering police who have had to deal with the whims and rages of the narcissistic and egomaniacal Santiago, are you willing to commit anew to working with the community to honestly and effectively reduce crime in Trenton?

There is nothing stronger than a working community police partnership. The successful challenge to the bogus residency waiver issued by Mr. Palmer to Mr. Santiago is a perfect example of what can be done when people unite to uphold the law. But will the bond be sustained and efforts refocused on the everyday street crime?

Will the general public maintain the trust in and communication with the Police? Will they share the information necessary to allow the Police to arrest and convict those responsible for the crime in our communities?

Will the police sustain and build upon the bridges of cooperation with the community that have been built because of and in spite of Santiago’s actions over the past five years?

Today’s judicial action has a lot of potential, let’s not waste it. One of the most divisive chapters of Trenton’s community-police relations was effectively laid to rest by Judge Feinberg’s decision.

It’s time to look forward to a safer, more unified Trenton and leave the abuses of power and privilege behind.


Anonymous said...

Who will pay Santiagoa legal fees for the apeal if he was terminated effective imediatly shouldn't he be personalt responsible for any legal fees incurred after his terminationn?

Old Mill Hill said...

That the taxpayers of Trenton are footing the bill for this folly is a large part of the shame.

Instead of following the law as upheld by Judge Feinberg's decision from the outset, our Mayor and our Council have handed the financial burden of their arrogance to all of us.