April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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Teaneck Safety Meeting Held in Response to Charleston Shooting

Teaneck—Over 80 people, including numerous representatives from the police, fire and sheriff departments, packed into Teaneck’s Rodda Community Center for a recent meeting on community safety. The event, coordinated by Mayor Lizette Parker and councilmen Elie Y. Katz and Mohammed Hameeduddin, was organized in response to the recent shooting in a Charleston church, which killed nine people and shook the nation. People from all across the religious spectrum—Christian, Jewish, Muslim—joined together to discuss making the community a safer place. The mayor and councilmen thanked the municipality and all those who worked to make the night possible. “If you think of the boots on the ground, you’re looking at it,” commented Detective Ed Lievano, on the overwhelming presence of law enforcement officers.

Rabbi Abe Friedman, Teaneck Police Chaplain, spoke on the importance of doing one’s hishtadlut (personal effort). “Here we have a saying, ‘see something, say something,’ said Friedman. “In Israel they say, ‘see something, do something.’ That is something I’ll always remember because doing something means protecting our community, either by reporting suspicious activity, installing video facilities, or making sure you know your police chief and sheriff.”

Friedman recounted the famous story of a man who was drowning and prayed to God for help. The police, fire department, and countless people came to help him, but he ignored them all and continued to pray. He ended up drowning and, afterwards, went to God and demanded to know how He could let him die. God responded, ‘I sent you the police department, I sent you the fire department—you ignored them all!’ “Law enforcement needs the full cooperation of the community in order to do their job,” emphasized Friedman.

There are over 70 houses of worship in the area and all need to be on the alert; doing so properly may require installing video cameras and a better security system. Congressman Bill Pascrell’s Deputy Chief of Staff Assad Akhter informed the audience of different grants and government resources available for houses of worship.

William Stallone, Mitigation Planner for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, spoke on foundation safety tips. He works very closely with the Teaneck Police, specifically with the school safety initiative, where he evaluated 187 school buildings throughout the county. “We need for you to tell us about suspicious activity. Things that don’t seem right, that don’t belong—call the police,” urged Stallone. He then went over basic safety measures that everyone, even in their homes, can implement. Advice such as key safety, the importance of having proper solid doors, locks, and panic buttons were enumerated. “Be cognizant of your surroundings at all times,” said Stallone.

Detective Ed Lievano, who has worked for the Teaneck police department for over 20 years, spoke at length on proper safety and different programs available for different houses of worship. “We are light-years ahead of other municipalities in the county,” bragged Lievano.

“By a show of hands, how many people have alarms at home?” Lievano asked the audience. Only a handful of people raised their hands.

“How many of us have alarms at work?” The response was minimal.

“And how many of us are aware of alarms that exist at our houses of worship?” To that, barely anyone raised their hands.

“Alarms are fantastic. Just make sure they are turned on, and please do not write the passcode to the alarm on a little strip of tape below the keypad,” said Lievano laughingly. “We have seen this more than once. It happens.” Hopefully it will never have to be used, but “it’s the umbrella in the trunk of your car—you may not need it but it’s good to know that it’s there.”

Lievano also discussed the importance of clearing out unnecessary clutter. “I tell my wife all the time, ‘If you haven’t worn it in five years—you don’t need it!’ We have only a small window of time to get in there and get it done. If we’re stepping over boxes, it creates an obstacle that we really don’t need to deal with at that point in time.”

Stallone also reminded people not be become paranoid. “Be mindful, not fearful. It is a remote chance like a strike of lightening to be faced with an active shooter,” said Stallone. “Just be cognizant of your surroundings and trust your intuition.”

The speakers also promoted National Night Out, a fun educational event taking place on August 4th. Families are encouraged to come out and meet police officers, sheriffs, and members of the military.

By Bracha Leah Palatnik

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