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Thursday, June 19, 2008

A lot of nothing

"A demagogue is someone who tells what he believes to be lies to people who he believes to be idiots."

Former Police Director Joseph Santiago made a rather unsubstantive appearance at the Chambersburg Civic Association meeting Wednesday, apparently at the behest at his old subordinate and supporter, Association President Peter Page.

The same old "crime is down" and "crime is at the lowest point in the city's recorded history" talking points came out of Mr. Santiago's mouth.

They were paired with other commentary on the alleged improvements Mr. Santiago has brought to the department, despite the continued crime problem plaguing many of the city's neighborhoods.

The man known to rule the Trenton Police Department like his own medieval fiefdom told those gathered there that he had no involvement in the deployment of officers out on patrol and in position throughout the city's four police districts.

"I don't tell them where to be," said Mr. Santiago. "I don't make decisions about where the officers are."

Those comments came despite the existence of deployment orders that demonstrate a precipitous decline in the city's minimum police staffing requirements apparently bear the former director's signature, according to department sources.

Minimum staffing levels in the crime-plagued East Ward have been halved, but Mr. Santiago said Wednesday that he has succeeded in getting more police out on the streets than his predecessors.

"When I got here, I went on a tour and I couldn't find a Trenton police officer," said Mr. Santiago.

Mr. Santiago told the audience that every one of his commanders needs more manpower and more resources. But when discussing the possible deployment of State Police within Trenton Mr. Santiago said the troopers were not "urban" police and were not needed to help protect the streets of Trenton.

At the conclusion of the relatively brief discussion, the association leaders - especially Mr. Page - went totally out of their way to protect the director by shielding him from questions from some in the audience.

It seemed that Mr. Santiago was vulnerable due to the presence of numerous city enemies in the audience, including four City Council members that went against the director in his ongoing residency battle.

Councilmen Milford Bethea, Jim Coston, Gino Melone, and Manny Segura all attended the meeting in another show of solidarity between the four, who were believed to be the target of propaganda and spin on dwindling police coverage and its false relationship with the city's budget problems.

Several of the city representatives were visibly angry during some of the director's comments, especially those regarding the futility of adequately policing the city's streets and the lack of necessity in bringing in more police in the form of state troopers.

A truly telling moment happened at the beginning of the meeting, when Mr. Melone asked the audience members whether they felt safe in their city, which received a nearly unanimous response of groans and shaking heads.

Under Mr. Santiago and Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, few feel totally safe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The mayor and the police director feel safe in their suburban homes. They rest of us are lied to and ignored.