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Officer Down

Thursday, September 13, 2012

NEWS: (Suburban) Elmwood Park cops meeting focuses on drugs, red light camera

--100 people is a great turnout at this type of meeting.
I am a true believer is working with the community.--

Story at Pioneer Press

Last Modified: Sep 13, 2012 01:13PM

ELMWOOD PARK — Police aimed to educate residents about what they’re doing at a Community-Oriented Policing meeting.

But they found they still had much work to do.

There were a little more than 100 people inside the gym Sept. 5 at the Elmwood Park Parks and Recreation Center, 2 Conti Parkway, to see what the police department was up to and to express their concerns. The police discussed programs and how important it is for residents to call when they see something strange.

“If you see something, you need to call us,” Elmwood Park Police Chief Frank Fagiano said.

Fagiano said he’d rather have an officer respond and find nothing then find out something serious had gone on where a simple 911 call could have prevented it.

When it came to questions, Tony Mostaccio of the 2900 block of North 73rd Avenue complained of drugs being sold on his block, holding a clear box of used needles he has found on his property. He said an abandoned house on his block is sometimes used for wild parties.

Todd Luchtman, who lives on the same block, showed a clear plastic bag filled with needles he said he’s found on his property as well, left by drug users. He said drugs are sold from a residence on his block.

“It’s like a McDonald’s drive-thru coming through the front of my house and the alley,” he said.

Fagiano said police are aware of the situation, but said he could not go into any detail about what his department may do.

Josefina Casacuberta, 83, who lives on the 1600 block of 73rd Avenue, said last year when she called police about drug activity near her home, eggs were thrown at her home and windows were broken.

Fagiano said police are working to address issues like this.

“We are doing our best,” he said. “We are doing everything possible.

“We have a gang task force we’re working with,” he said. “We know there is a problem.”

Elmwood Park Village Manager Paul Volpe said this was what the meeting was for.

“Community policing is about connecting the police and the residents,” he said. “If we work together, we get better results.”

Volpe said the meetings will continue on a regular basis.

During last week’s meeting, police showed how many tickets they had issued this year up to July, comparing that to the same period last year. This year, 6,505 tickets were issued up to July, versus 7,520 in 2011.

For the same period, they showed the number of arrests, with 446 this year so far versus 451 last year. Misdemeanor arrests made up the majority.

Also shown was video from the RedSpeed camera at 76th and Grand avenues. Audience members gasped as they were showed videos of cars and trucks running through red lights at the intersection and on some occasions barely missing a pedestrian or another vehicle.

Fagiano said that’s what the camera is there for.

“RedSpeed is not for revenue; it’s for safety, for the safety of our children,” he said.

Lois Bonaccorsi, a 40-year resident on the 1600 block of 73rd Court, said she learned much from the meeting.

“It was good information for the residents to know what’s happening and what’s not happening,” she said. “I have no concerns and I’m very proud of the officers.”