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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Police used as valets in Trenton

Anyone surprised by the story in today’s Trentonian about the usage of sworn police officers as car-wash caddies and personal valets by former Police Director Joseph Santiago needs to wake up.

Mr. Santiago and his boss – Mayor Douglas H. Palmer – treat the police department and the city, respectively, as their own little fiefdoms where they are to be treated like royalty.

Mayor Palmer uses multiple high-paid police sergeants as his own personal drivers. They drive him everywhere, even outside of the city. Mr. Santiago is guilty of the same extravagance, in his use of police officers in getting his personal city vehicles washed and filled up with expensive gasoline.

This shared attitude about public service is probably one of the most offensive traits of the two men, and one of the primary reasons why so many people throughout the city would like to see them make a permanent exit from the Trenton scene.

This is America.

From the beginning of this country’s founding people have found all of the trappings of monarchy offensive and representative of inferior forms of government.

Yet some in Trenton seek to be treated in the manner of a king.

Not only is it offensive, but it is truly costly for a city that struggles with budget and crime problems and a mass exodus of population and ratables to areas outside of the city borders.

The drivers assigned to Mayor Palmer would be better used out on the street trying to tackle crime.

The sworn officers abused by Mr. Santiago would also serve the city better by performing crime-fighting duties, rather than serving as the personal stable boys of an egomaniacal police director.

Sources in Newark say this is exactly what was going on in Newark when Mr. Santiago worked in that city’s police department. Mayor Palmer probably knew that and liked what he saw when considering Mr. Santiago for the Trenton job.

They are like two peas in a pod.

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