ONLY ON CVP
: As a woman went into the Walgreens on River Road in Fair Lawn, trying to fill a phony prescription, a lookout remained outside in a black Lexus. The woman was leaving the store as police pulled up. Within moments, an officer was struck by the fleeing Lexus and at least one shot from his gun was fired at the vehicle,
NEWSBREAK : Authorities said the driver of a car that threw a Fair Lawn police sergeant over the hood just after he fired two rounds at the oncoming vehicle was a woman who was later arrested, along with a female accomplice, after her car was found in Newark with two bullet holes in the hood….
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Police sources with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that a manhunt was still under way as of 9:30 p.m. for the driver –who clipped the Fair Lawn sergeant just as a rally outside the Municipal Building by officers protesting a wave of layoffs in town was breaking up.
A dispatcher at Fair Lawn police headquarters who refused to identify herself — instead giving her badge number, 31 — said no information was being released by the department.
However, an online account on the Bergen Record’s web site specifically cites Detective Sgt. Derek Bastinck telling a reporter that fellow Sgt. Mike Messina, 44, squeezed off a shot at the fleeing car, which apparently headed toward Glen Rock. Messina was taken to Valley Hospital with injuries, a police source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . A second officer also was taken there but was released soon after, the site has learned.
The incident, which occurred at the Walgreen’s on River Road, is being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office because an officer discharged his weapon.
Reliable sources confirmed the account for CLIFFVIEW PILOT — and added the exclusive details, including that Messina was walking into the drug store as the woman was walking out.
The irony was hard to miss, given that the Fair Lawn PBA less than an hour earlier concluded a rally to protest the layoffs of four police officers — three of them Iraqi war veterans — following nine 9 retirements and transfers who haven’t been replaced.
The department’s community policing and traffic unit has been reduced to two officers after the remaining officers were put back on patrol.
Municipal officials are also axing DARE and all of the department’s community-based programs, stripping the squad down to a militaristic unit that loses the ability to prevent crimes before they happen.
Even the special program the department runs for kids who want to become cops is in danger: The head of the program, Officer Michael O’Brien, is volunteering his time to keep it going.
“Once they lay off these officers and there are two more planned retirements set for October 1, we are going to be at a staffing level last seen in 1972,” O’Brien told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “The total will be approximately 54 officers in a town that borders Paterson and has a daytime transient population of approximately 200,000 or more.”
Mayor Joseph Tedeschi claims the layoffs are necessary because officers won’t take furlough days.
However, O’Brien said: “We would have considered furlough days, despite the politically motivated agenda, IF there had been some guarantee of no lay offs. But the mayor wouldn’t do that.
Councilwomen Jeanne Baratta registered the only “NO” vote, saying the Council should revisit the budget and find a solution.
“The Mayor and Council have endangered our public safety,” said PBA Local 67 President David Boone, “but the officers of the Fair Lawn Police Department wish to re-assure the community that we will continue to protect and serve to the best of our ability.
“It is unfortunate that we have repeatedly submitted viable cost-saving proposals that would haveprevented these layoffs and benefit the Borough financially for years to come. Unfortunately, there has been a tremendous amount of misinformation fed to the community.”
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