Little Silver PD Secured Boro Post Sandy With Help From Across Country
Officers from Michigan to Mississippi and lots of states in between left their families and traveled to Little Silver to help secure the borough following Superstorm Sandy.
For about two weeks following Superstorm Sandy, portions of Little Silver literally went into lockdown mode as officers from around the country arrived to help local police secure the borough.
Residents accustomed to seeing out-of-state license plates on power company and debris removal vehicles started seeing police vehicles marked with the shields and logos of departments from states like Michigan, Illinois and Mississippi parked along Little Silver streets about two days after the storm.
"We had numerous calls from residents reporting people walking through yards and scavenging," Little Silver Police Chief Daniel Shaffery said of reports his department received immediately after the storm amid fear of looting. "A lot of times the scavengers would start sifting through piles on the street and then start making their way closer and closer to the houses and taking stuff that's not garbage."
"They claim ignorance," Shaffery said of those questioned, "but it's theft."
The request for backup enforcement was made through county and state levels of command and as soon as officers started to arrive in the borough to help impede the flow of garbage pickers and sightseers from flood damaged areas, "the change was dramatic," said the chief. "It greatly reduced the number of calls."
Other than some gas siphoning and reports of two stolen generators, the department has received no other reports of theft following the storm, he added.
Shaffery now has a handful of police patches from all over that the out-of-state officers swapped. Some -- like the Mississippi Highway Patrol officers who didn't have any spare patches in their patrol cars -- ripped them right off their uniform shirts.
"We knew this would never happen again," Shaffery said of the unique situation of all the police entities coming together. "It was really good to have them here and hopefully we never have to have them come back for this reason."
Until the last of the supplemental officers were officially pulled off duty on Nov. 13 at 8 a.m., check points had been set up along Seven Bridges Road, Silverside Avenue and along Point Road by officers from Mississippi, Michigan State Police, Massachusetts, Illinois State Police, Maryland State Police, Fairview Heights (IL) Police Department, NJ State Police and the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.
Shaffery said that although the Mississippi officers had lived through Katrina and were "no strangers to devastation," they had a hard time dealing with the cold weather that blew in that first week after the storm. "They're not used to that," he said with a smile.
Once the checkpoints were put into place, Shaffery said he made a point to walk the streets and talk to residents and found they were "grateful" for the extra security. "It was nerve wracking, all the sightseers and gawking," he said, adding that as power started to come back on, downed wires posed an additional hazard. "It just wasn't safe," Shaffery said.