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May 31, 2018

Holmdel Neighborhood Watch Updates

By Joanne Colella

Holmdel Police

The two most recent meetings of the Holmdel Neighborhood Watch program captains, hosted by the Holmdel Police Department, were held on February 15 and April 12 in the courtroom at town hall. Lieutenant Michael Pigott, who heads up the program, provided updates at each meeting regarding recent and upcoming programs, along with reports from officers in the detective bureau and the traffic safety division on recent incidents, investigations, and statistics.

Signage Issues

Please inform the Holmdel Police Department about any missing, damaged, or defaced signs that you may see in the township, including Neighborhood Watch signs, traffic signs, street names, stop signs, parking signs, etc.

Special Needs Registry

The Special Needs Registry is a free program offered by Monmouth County to assist individuals with special needs such as autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, patients with oxygen, etc. The registry was created to help police officers and other emergency service personnel to assist those with special needs in the event of an emergency. First responders receive vital information regarding the registrant’s disability, emergency contact information, physical description, and current photo for identification purposes. Currently, there are 12 Holmdel residents enrolled in the program and the police department encourages anyone with a loved one who may be assisted to enroll in the registry.

Holmdel Police Youth Academy

The dates of this year’s Youth Academy program will be August 6 through 10 for boys and girls ages 9-10 and August 13 through 17 for ages 11 and 12. First established in the summer of 2000, the Youth Academy was designed to give local students the opportunity to learn respect for the law and for law enforcement personnel through positive interaction and hands-on activities that demonstrate the job of a police officer. The program encourages students to be partners in building safer schools and communities, and has been shown to improve self-esteem, discipline, self-confidence, respect, and motivation to become outstanding citizens. Each day, attendees learn about a different topic, such as self-defense, firearms safety, criminal investigations, water safety, emergency response, the police K-9 unit, military drill and ceremony, and more. Meals and beverages are provided daily, along with academy shirts, hats, and study materials, with a graduation ceremony and award certificates on the last day of each week. Seating for each week in this hugely popular program is limited to approximately 50 students and accepted on a lottery basis that began in March. This year’s lottery has come to a close and both classes have been completely filled.

Safe Not Sorry Program

Held in April each year, the Safe Not Sorry program is offered, free of charge, by the police department to high school senior girls. The program teaches participants how to reduce the chances of a sexual assault by being aware of their environment, responding quickly, using avoidance and awareness skills, enforcing boundaries verbally and physically, and dealing with or escaping from a sexual predator. Discussions are held about drug-facilitated sexual assault, victim support services, self-defense techniques, personal defense weapons, and spring break safety. This year’s Safe Not Sorry program was held on three consecutive nights, April 16 through 18.

Safety Seminar for Places of Worship

As of the April 12 meeting, the police were planning a rescheduled date for a seminar for representatives from the seven places of worship in the township. The seminar is intended to assist church staff, ushers, and other personnel in identifying suspicious behaviors and items, how to respond to hazards, and what role these people play once emergency personnel arrive on scene. If you or someone you know is involved with any of the community houses of worship, please be advised of what promises to be a productive and informative meeting.

Detective Bureau Report

Detective Eric Hernando reported the following at the February 15 meeting:

• Officers responded to a burglary and theft report on Ashley Drive. Investigation was ongoing.

• Officers are investigating an incident on Galloping Hill Road where someone entered a vacant home and caused a flood and significant damage by stuffing a toilet with paper.

• The principal at Holmdel Preschool reported that $2,000 in cash was taken from an envelope on her desk in an unlocked office. She suspected a cleaning person to be responsible and the investigation was ongoing.

• A credit card was stolen from a doctor’s office and used to make purchases at several local stores. The subject was identified through surveillance footage, arrested, and released on a summons.

• On January 5, officers responded to a report of a man who took a backpack blower from a shelf at Lowes without paying for it. Messages were sent to Monmouth and Middlesex Counties to help identify the subject.

• On January 22, police responded to a residential burglary report on Cottonwood Lane. Evidence was collected and samples were submitted for DNA analysis, with the investigation ongoing.

• On January 27, police and fire personnel responded to a commercial structure fire on Main Street, which appeared to be intentional. Police are investigating, with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Monmouth County Fire Marshall’s Office.

• Police followed up on an elder abuse report that a resident from Bayshore Health Care Center was mistreated by an aide. The NJ Department of Health and the NJ Office of the Ombudsman were contacted and investigation is ongoing.

• Counterfeit $50 bills were passed at Holmdel Bagels. The currency was recovered and a message with photos of the suspect was sent out. The Secret Service was also notified.

• Police were investigating a motor vehicle burglary at Cross Farm Park, where the window of a parked car was smashed and a purse was stolen from the front seat.

• A Line Road resident arrived home to find her rear slider door open and a side window screen cut, with a $2,000 ring and $400 in cash stolen. Investigation is ongoing.

• A person was found dead in a room at the Holmdel Motor Inn by staff members and a friend. No signs of forced entry or trauma indicated foul play. The medical examiner suggested it may have been caused by a cardiac issue or a Roxicodone overdose. Reports were pending and an investigation ongoing.

• Police are investigating an elder abuse incident where a subject was very aggressive with a patient at Millennium Memory Care, pushing and dragging the victim for several minutes and trying to forcibly restrain the victim. A statement was taken from the facility director and contact made with the NJ Ombudsman and Board of Health.

• An unknown subject stole $900 from a vehicle parked at LA Fitness. There were no signs of forced entry and victim insisted his car was locked. Investigation is ongoing.

Det/Sgt. Edward Martinez reported the following at the April 12 meeting:

• Police were investigating an attempted burglary after a resident reported seeing someone on her Ring video doorbell, pulling on the door handles of two vehicles in the driveway.

• Police and fire personnel responded to Bayshore Medical Center for a fire on the fourth floor that was caused by a toaster oven. Multiple floors were affected by heavy water damage.

• A social media post about a possible police impersonator incident in Holmdel was forwarded to the police. The post described an unmarked car pulling over a female motorist on Crawfords Corner Road. When she asked for a marked car to respond, the alleged officer returned to his car and left. The author of the post was identified and contacted. Upon investigation, it was determined that the account had been relayed by a third party and it was unfounded. Residents are reminded to please contact the police for information on any incidents or rumors you may find on social media, and they will gladly investigate and respond ASAP to confirm their validity.

• The owner of a cell tower site reported theft of copper wire, valued at $10,000, which had been cut from several electrical panel cables. Gloves and rope found at the scene were sent out for DNA testing.

• Police are investigating a series of thefts from the locker rooms at LA Fitness. In one instance, a stolen credit card was used to make fraudulent purchases in Keyport. At least two suspects from Keansburg have been identified and the police continue to investigate, with additional video surveillance.

Car Burglaries and Thefts – Lock Your Cars!

At the April 12 Neighborhood Watch meeting, as with many previous meetings, there was much discussion about the number of car thefts in Holmdel and surrounding towns, where high-end vehicles are being stolen right from residents’ driveways. In most, if not all, cases, it has been found that the cars were left unlocked, with key fobs and other valuables left inside the car. Recognizing that everyone should have the right to feel that their property is secure, especially where they live, the police cannot stress enough the importance of ALWAYS locking your vehicle and not leaving key fobs or other possessions inside. Well-trained criminals will survey neighborhoods, often driving in high-end cars so as to avoid suspicion, and can often spot unlocked vehicles that are parked outside. In one recent incident, the suspect climbed over a high fence to get to the car and then drove it away, with the gates opening as the car exited. Police also advise that, contrary to popular rumors, there is not an app that criminals are using that can electronically detect unlocked cars. Please lock your cars and report to the police immediately any unfamiliar vehicles or suspicious activity you may see in your neighborhood.

Traffic Safety Report

Sergeant Vincent Imperato presented the following information at the February 15 meeting:

• Ptl. Christopher Cherney received a NJ Traffic Safety Certificate of Recognition as a Traffic Safety Specialist.

• Ptl. Matthew Menosky was awarded the “Kimberly Smith Ames” Award for the 30 DWI arrests he made in 2017.

• AAA was holding a summit for police officers to discuss the impact of legalized marijuana and impaired driving.

• All township road improvement work is being posted on the police department’s Facebook page and website.

• The Garden State Parkway bridge on Holmdel Road is scheduled for repair.

• Left turns are prohibited from Red Hill Road into Sloan Kettering Medical Center.  Signage and road markings are being updated to advise drivers.

• Work on Highway 34 has been postponed until the end of 2018-2019.

• The Monmouth County Park System is constructing a walkway connecting Holmdel Park to the area across Roberts Road this spring.

• Pylons on South Holland Road were removed for the winter, to be put back up in the spring.

• Traffic Safety Grants are based on production. Since the Holmdel Police Department is active in pedestrian safety, distracted driving, and DWI enforcement, the department was awarded grants in these areas for 2018.

• Police Explorers receive monthly training, and the department keeps them involved in many activities. Contact Ptl. Cherney if you know of a young person who would like to join the program.

Ptl. Christopher Cherney reported the following at the April 12 meeting:

• To date in 2018, there have been 18 DWI arrests, including eight for driving under the influence of narcotics. There were 1,325 summonses issued and 167 motor vehicle crashes.

• Upcoming roadwork was scheduled for Middletown Road between Stilwell Road and Route 520, Chestnut Ridge Road, Crawfords Corner Road, and the crosswalk at Holmdel Park across Roberts Road.

• Accident reports are now available via Carfax.

Special Presentations

On February 15, Detective Eric Hernando, who serves as Holmdel’s Office of Emergency Management Coordinator, presented a short video on the impact of the flu, which has been running rampant this year. Residents are encouraged to visit www.nj.gov/health for more information.

On April 12, Susan Levine, a victim support program coordinator for 180 Turning Lives Around, spoke about Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, important statistics and information about sexual assault, and the vital resources and services provided by 180.

Meeting Dates and Information

Neighborhood Watch meeting dates for the remainder of 2018 will be June 14, September 13, November 15, and December 13.

For information or questions about these and any other issues, programs, or events, contact the Holmdel Police Department at 732-946-4400, visit their website at HolmdelPolice.org, or follow Holmdel Police on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.