Has the time come for extra security at Jersey City council meetings?
Dec 19, 2012 | 2326 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JERSEY CITY - Have City Council meetings become so out-of-hand that the public and members of the council need special protection? Apparently some people think so.

Tonight the City Council will consider a measure to require that a Jersey City police officer be assigned to the Council chambers when the governing body meets.

While this police officer would ostensibly be assigned to protect the nine members of the City Council, these meetings routinely attract many members of the public, some of whom have become confrontational with council

representatives and other residents.

This police presence would be an addition to the security checkpoint at the entrance to City Hall. This checkpoint includes a metal detector and an X-ray scanner for bags.

The consideration of this measure comes after several arguments have broken out at recent council meetings that looked as though they could have turned

physical.

In one incident, local restaurant owner Tom Parisi confronted Idalia Rosa, whose father lives near Parisi's Brightside Tavern, after she spoke out in opposition to an ordinance that would have allowed him to have

live entertainment without a variance.

Twice the owner of a downtown pizza parlor - who supports Ward E City Councilman and 2013 mayoral candidate Steven Fulop - has tangled with activist Esther Wintner after she has made pointed comments about Fulop.

And in a fight that almost rivaled the recent Manny Pacquiao-Juan Marquez bout, Fulop and city attorney William Matsikoudis recently had a yelling match after the councilman questioned Matsikoudis' legal judgment.

(According to residents who have tried to replay this doozy, it was mysteriously edited from the televised version of the council meeting at which it happened. But believe us when we say it was gooooood.)

As entertaining as these confrontations can sometimes be, there is a concern that they could turn physical or violent, particularly as the May 2013 mayoral race between Fulop and Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy approaches. The long-anticipated race between the two men is expected to be contentious and

has already threatened to divide the city into pro-Healy and pro-Fulop camps. Given this backdrop, some council members believe assigning a police

officer to the council chambers during meetings of the governing body is a good idea.

Ironically, however, Fulop, who has often been the flashpoint of some of the recent incidents, disagrees.

"As someone who has been shouted out more than any other council member, I understand the concerns that some of my council colleagues have expressed," Fulop said Wednesday. "But the reality is that we already have security

officers and metal detectors in City Hall. To assign one officer just to the Council chambers is redundant. We have limited police manpower in our city. Our police should be on the streets fighting crime, not in City Hall." - E. Assata Wright

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