Lakewood Briefs


LPD Unveils Strategic Response Unit

The Lakewood Police Department (LPD) unveiled a new unit geared towards addressing homeland security threats and strengthening community relations.

Known as the Strategic Response Unit (SRU), the squad will focus on assessing and addressing potential threats rather than responding to daily calls. LPD Chief Greg Mayer announced the unit at an event last Wednesday when 13 new officers officially joined the force.

Other steps the force plans to take include training other township officials to help prevent crimes. They will be giving police radios to crossing guards and training public works employees to be on guard for suspicious activity.

Chief Mayer said that the new unit would be actively reaching out to houses of worship and other community institutions that require higher level security. The move comes at a time of heightened threats particularly to the Orthodox community.

Home land security is defined as responses to “terrorism and other hazards where American interests.”

Two members of the SRU have a unique ability to engage in effective community outreach. Michael Wolf will be the force’s first Orthodox member, and Wille Cuzo a fluent Spanish speaker.

John Bolton Expected to visit Lakewood Area

Former national security advisor John Bolton is slated to visit the Lakewood area in the near future. Mr. Bolton’s visit is being arranged by Republican donor and Lakewood resident Dr. Rich Roberts as part of an effort to put pressure on Jackson’s township government to reverse polices widely seen as geared to stymie the influx of Orthodox Jews to the area.

The detail and date of the visit have not yet been announced. In an interview with Asbury Park Press, Dr. Roberts said that Mr. Bolton’s planned visit is part of a broader campaign.

“I’m trying to bring a tsunami of news reporters, politicians, protesters, social media into Jackson, to get the mayor and the Township Council hopefully to say, ‘enough is enough’,” he said.

Mr. Bolton served as national security advisor for the Trump administration until his abrupt dismissal in September 2019. Previously, he served as ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush. His various government portfolios dealt with foreign relations.

Jackson has been engaged in litigation to defend laws that created a de facto ban on new schools and the construction of eruvin since 2017. Since then, several documents have revealed a concerted effort by some township officials to fight the Orthodox community’s growth including staking out private minyanim and reporting them to code enforcement. Its former council president, Robert Nixon, one of the those accused of leading a campaign to fight the trend, suddenly resigned his post last December. Recently, national and state GOP leaders issued a statement condemning anti-Orthodox comments made by one of Jackson’s local party leaders.

Dr. Roberts said that Mr. Bolton would meet with Orthodox families living in Jackson to draw attention to the on-going tensions there.

MONOC Ceasing Services

Ocean and Monmouth counties’ main ambulance company has announced that amid growing financial challenges, it will discontinue services this coming Spring.

The Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC) has been in operation since 1978. The organization provides emergency transport services and a 911 response center. It is privately operated and has contract agreements with most area hospitals and medical centers.

MONOC’s assets and services will be absorbed by the Hackensack-Meridian and Robert Wood Johnson hospital systems.

In response to the news, State Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) introduced a bill to form an Advanced Life Support System (ALS) to help fill the gap that will be left once MONOC ceases operations in April.

The bill also aims to make general improvements to the state’s emergency response systems.

“Our current system is flawed and too rigid. You wind up with superfluous paramedics at a more basic call leading to others not having the flexibility to leave for a higher trauma event. People can die because paramedics are stretched too thin,” said Sen. O’Scanlon. “This problem has been a long time coming – we saw it and have been working on it for years. MONOC’s employees are and have been some of the top professional first responders in this state. As the nature of healthcare evolved in New Jersey, MONOC’s business model was no longer sustainable. There is simply too much stress on the system and resources available – and stress on emergency medical resources is a dangerous thing to have.”