One NJ Neighborhood Opts for Private Police Force

For two weeks recently, Englewood police had, depending on how you look at it, either a partner or a competitor patrolling their streets.

It happened in a well to do part of town, 'up on the hill' as the locals say, where a spike in car break ins and home burglaries mobilized 26 homeowners to hire a New York-based security firm to patrol some four blocks of town.

"It's unacceptable, it's unacceptable," homeowner Sabrina Speaker told NBCNewYork about the crime situation, just hours after her unlocked car was broken into and a wallet was stolen.

Speaker was not one of those who chipped in for the service, arguing she pays enough in taxes and expects a better police presence.

While the private patrolling by a security officer for T and M Protection Resources has ended, Senior Vice President Joe Russo, a retired Secret Service agent, said "police patrolling can't do everything."

Nonetheless, he said his firm checked in every night with police to advise them they would be on scene and felt his company was an asset to protecting the neighborhood.

Police aren't quite so sure.

"We feel we are the professionals who are quite capable of putting the measures in place to apprehend the suspects who may be out there committing the crimes," said Deputy Chief Lawrence Suffern.

Across town in a much more modest neighborhood of closely spaced single family homes, Victor Santana admitted "I don't think the people in this neighborhood can afford it" when asked about private patrols on his street.

But he showed no resentment for his better heeled fellow citizens "up on the hill."

"There's a whole lot of things in life that are not fair in life, the people who have and have not, and that's life," said Santana.

As for those two weeks of patrols, T and M's Russo admitted his firm had never been hired before by a neighborhood.

"This is a bit unusual," he said.

But he did point out on the second night of patrolling, his guard was instrumental in catching a would-be burglar who tried to get into his parked car early one morning. Russo said his man quickly called police who then caught the suspect.

Even there, police wonder how the burglar could get close enough to try to break into the guard's car if he weren't asleep on the job.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

Contact Us