SECAUCUS, NJ — Secaucus Police Chief Dennis Miller, sworn into the head job in March, has been very proactive about holding community talking and listening sessions.
This is where he invites the entire town to hear a public presentation from the department and learn what the Secaucus police department is doing — and what it can do better. Secaucus residents can also ask questions and, judging by the meeting Patch witnessed Tuesday night, these answers are met with thoughtful responses from the police.
The first meeting was held in August at the Harmon Cove townhouses, and the most recent was Tuesday night outside the Recreation Center in the North End of town. The next one will be Thursday night, October 1 at Harmon Cove Towers.
The Tuesday night gathering was sparsely attended — there were only about 15 residents there — but here is a breakdown of what was said:
Motorcycle unit. Miller did not give a date, but expect to see motorcycles coming back to the Secaucus police department. They will likely be used in speeding enforcement.
Police K-9. Yes, Secaucus police already have Oakley, the lovable therapy dog that makes people feel better, but he is not a trained police K-9. This winter, SPD will be getting an actual police canine, trained in drug sniffing, explosive detection and how to take down a crime suspect. The dog is currently in its 36 weeks of training.
(As Patch reported, Oakley is used for things like comforting children in a domestic violence incident, at street fairs and to keep senior citizens company.)
COVID update. In total, there have been 669 COVID cases in the town of Secaucus, and 50 deaths. But Miller stressed that the vast majority of these deaths occurred at nursing homes in town, such as the Alaris nursing home on County Ave., which is run by Hudson County.
Neighborhood Watch. Secaucus police will be working with the community to bring back a Neighborhood Watch program, but this will be more modern: It will use residents' Ring home security cameras. More details on that to come.
Vice squad. Chief Miller has formed a vice squad specifically to address drug dealing and prostitution going on in Secaucus motels, such as at the Red Roof Inn. This is the one issue police get the most resident complaints about, and is a big problem Miller is trying to address in his tenure.
National Night Out happening in October. It did not happen this summer due to COVID, but Secaucus police will be holding one sometime in October. Also, you might have noticed police officers giving kids around town tickets for free ice cream if they are seen practicing bike and scooter safety, and wearing a helmet.
Car break-ins. Crime is overall down in Secaucus ("despite what you read in the media," said Miller), but one thing Secaucus police do get calls about is car break-ins. "95 percent of these incidents are kids 16 to 22 years old, walking around town at night looking for unlocked cars," said police. To that end, please lock your cars. Secaucus police have also been responding to resident complaints about speeding in the North End.
Racial issues. Chief Miller said he has been meeting with those concerned about racial issues in policing and he encourages anyone who would like to talk about it to schedule a meeting with him. "Say hi to a police officer if you see them out on the beat," he said. "And don't ever be afraid to call 911. You pay us to respond to you."
911 calls. If you call 911 in Secaucus you usually will connect immediately to a dispatcher located in town, but certain areas of town, such as by Xchange, are sent to Hudson County's 911 call center.
Chief Miller is clearly working hard to make the Secaucus police department accessible, so we can learn how our tax dollars are being spent. It would be nice to see more residents at these meetings, which were not held under his predecessor.
Related: Secaucus Police Start Using Therapy Dog Oakley In Patrol Duties (July 31)