Marlboro, NJ Police want you to say something if you see something this summer
It's summertime and that means nice weather for all kinds of fun at home, at friends, at events, and so on, but it's important to be cognizant of everyone and everything around you so that we can all have a safe, healthy, and fun summer.
When it comes to summer parties and get-togethers with family and/or friends, know that it's okay to have fun and a good time but be mindful and respectful of others while doing so and be smart in your decision-making, and plan ahead.
"From the perspective of hosting parties over the summer and ensuring that everyone gets to and from safely -- nowadays, we're given the opportunity to have Uber, Lyft, whatever it may be -- it allows people to not have to worry about 'am I going to be the designated driver, are you going to be the designated driver, do I have to be concerned about my designated driver?' -- that's really saved the day, I think promoting the fact (of) leave the car at home, leave the keys at home, rent an Uber, do it as a group of friends and that way you can share the cost and that way, we can ensure that we're not going to have anybody under the influence or maybe less sharp driving behind the wheel," Marlboro Police Chief Peter Pezzullo tells Townsquare Media News.
There are signs, and indicators that police look out for on the roads that indicate a possible drunk driver as they look to ensure the roads are safe.
"When an officer is looking to justify making a motor vehicle stop for driving under the influence or it could even be careless driving -- it's not so much speeding, it's usually somebody that's driving, probably, less than the posted speed limit because their faculties aren't as sharp -- it's weaving in and out of traffic, it could be just within the lane -- you could see an individual that's just struggling to maintain that stability of the vehicle," Chief Pezzullo said. "Once they (the officer) make the motor vehicle stop, they're going to interview the driver and throughout the interview, they're going to assess how well they can put together words, how well they can have a thought process, answer some very basic questions, and then they have psychophysicals that they put an individual through to test their overall level of possible influence or sobriety."
Driving under the influence also, of course, includes drugs, and with recreational marijuana now legal in New Jersey, it's an additional component that police have to watch out for on the roads.
"That's making life very difficult for law enforcement. Legislators, I understand, they did what they did for the citizens of the state of New Jersey and we're not debating that. I think that it's difficult for law enforcement personnel to enforce DUI or Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana because it's not something where we can say 'oh, I smell an odor of alcohol on your breath', so, marijuana, once you smoke it, you can still smell it in the vehicle," Chief Pezzullo said. "From there, yes, we can still probably use psychophysicals to let us know that they're not 100 percent in control but then, we've now had to revert to a drug recognition expert -- those are specially trained officers -- and they will actually go through a series of scientific tests -- and through those tests, they can assess whether the individual is under the influence of marijuana or other drugs."
Under the language of the recreational marijuana legislation and its existence itself, there are some caveats or challenges now for law enforcement overall including searching a vehicle.
"There's definitely a limitation there but I wouldn't say that's directly related to detecting whether or not they're under the influence and it's affecting the way they operate a vehicle. Legislation has changed to what level or extent we can search and questions that we can ask but when we talk about just the fact that more people now, due to the legality of marijuana, are going to be operating, because they no longer have to hide in the shadows and maybe do it in their backyard or in their basement," Chief Pezzullo said. "Now, you're going to have people, just every day, smoking it like a cigarette and operating (a motor vehicle). I think you're going to see, throughout the summer, more people day-smoking and operating as opposed to day-drinking and operating. We have to understand that there's going to be that loss of attention and that's imperative when you're operating a motor vehicle."
When it comes to motor vehicle thefts and burglaries which have run rampant all over the state, law enforcement has encouraged drivers to lock up and secure their valuables and pushed for more to go after these suspects.
In Marlboro Township, they have a See Something, Say Something program which was established earlier this year and has produced big results.
"It's been a daunting task, at least for Marlboro Township, I'm sure a lot of the towns in the state have been dealing with the same issues. Our Mayor (Jonathan) Hornik, he's done a great job, we have a great partnership and he came up with a program called 'See Something, Say Something, We'll Do Something', and it sort of works hand in hand with what I've been promoting which is 'Lock Your Vehicles, Take Your Key Fobs Inside and Lock Your Residence' -- but, together, with the 'See Something, Say Something, We'll Do Something', our residents are being asked to work with law enforcement and be the eyes and ears or the extra set of eyes and ears," Chief Pezzullo said. "If they see something out of place, whether it be a vehicle that's not normally in their neighborhood that's trolling the neighborhood, and they can tell it's just out of place -- give us a call and we'll show up and we'll do the investigation. It could be something as innocent as somebody is lost but it also has led us to situations where we've gotten people who were here specifically to do bad."
While the attempts are still happening from time to time, since the program launched in March of 2022, Chief Pezzullo said there's been a large drop in the number of stolen vehicles in the township and it's led to police making 13-arrests related to car thefts in Marlboro.