Trenton police officers guarding the often-empty house of Mayor Douglas H. Palmer frequently decline to leave their post to address other public safety emergencies, say neighbors and law enforcement sources.
One police official said recently that the officer detailed to protect the Hiltonia house of Mayor Palmer refused to leave their post, to assist at a crime scene where a man had been murdered and an increasingly volatile crowd was gathering.
A close neighbor of the mayor’s Buckingham Avenue residence returned home in the nighttime to find a would-be burglar stalking through their yard. But the officer nearby, guarding the mayor’s house, refused to leave their post and instead called for backup from police dispatchers, they said.
This is just one way that the system of having law enforcement officials guard Mayor Palmer’s house puts a serious drain on a police department dealing with an ever-escalating crime problem.
Let’s not forget about the two full-time detectives – taking home around $70,000 a year – who are never on the streets, and instead are chauffeuring around the mayor like some warped, modernized “Driving Ms. Daisy.”
All the while, children in the city are being shot down in heinous acts of violence, while administration officials cry about budget shortages and the inability to properly staff police units.
Recently it was revealed that the reason for the protection detail’s creation was that a deranged man, suffering from severe mental illness, approached the mayor during a funeral years ago and struck him in the face.
It hardly seems reasonable that such an incident justifies the dedication of hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and benefits to the mayor’s protection, in case another mentally deranged man gets close enough to throw a punch. This city has bigger things to worry about.