HomeHaddonfield NewsHaddonfield Police Department advises residents to be more aware of surroundings

Haddonfield Police Department advises residents to be more aware of surroundings

Dangers of using phone behind wheel, keeping vehicles unlocked, scams increase as spring approaches

As the weather gets warmer and distractions to one’s field of vision can start to affect how they drive and how they walk, the Haddonfield Police Department would like borough residents to know texting while driving and texting while walking is nothing to take lightly.

“It’s been on the rise with the advent of cellphones and also nowadays in their cars they have things like lane assist and Bluetooth, so they feel more secure about it. I think it gives a false sense of security,” said Lt. Stephen Camiscioli. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did a study, and it said that 1.6 million crashes occur annually from texting and driving alone, and that it is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving under the influence of alcohol.”

- Advertisement -

Electronics have taken on a greater role in communication and all facets of daily life, and multi-tasking has become part and parcel of how people are expected to operate. Thinking about the consequences that can result from using mobile devices while operating a vehicle or being close to those who do, may not be at the forefront of concern.

“It makes sense if you think about it, when you’re texting, your eyes are completely off the road and you may be disoriented and your judgment’s terrible. When you’re under the influence, as horrible as that is, at least your eyes are forward. Texting and driving, or texting and walking, your eyes are literally everywhere else and it’s dangerous,” Camiscioli added.

Camiscioli said the department has been lucky there have been no reports on pedestrians hurt by distracted walking in the recent past, but did report that in 2018, 35 tickets were issued where a cellphone was involved in a particular violation, 50 tickets were issued for careless driving (which carries two points on a license for the first offense), and hundreds of tickets were issued for red-light and other violations where cell phone use is the probable cause for the traffic stop.

Residents are urged to take greater care and focus on their surroundings when utilizing electronics when either driving or walking, because officers have a number of obvious ways to catch offenders.

“A lot of times we will have vehicles that sit a little higher up, we have some low-profile vehicles, low-visibility vehicles, and also we have unmarked cars. We’ll actually drive by and sometimes even in our own marked police car, people are so distracted they don’t see us right next to them,” Camiscioli admitted. “I’ve actually seen that happen, standing in traffic on Kings Highway and right next to someone who’s so busy (operating their cell phone) they don’t notice.”

If a resident or visitor is be caught texting while driving, Camiscioli said the penalty for a first-time offender is zero points on your license, but a $233 fine and mandatory appearance in court. For second-time offenders, and the fine gets upped considerably and the points increase as well.

The onset of tax season is also ripe for borough residents to receive an uptick in potential scams.

“This time of year, we get the IRS phone scams and they prey on elderly people unfortunately. It’s been gradually decreasing now that we’ve gotten word out through our community involvement. People are more aware, as opposed to 10 years ago, when we had people getting scammed out of thousands of dollars, now we get notifications saying ‘someone attempted to do this, I just wanted to let you know, and I hung up on them.’ That tells us we’re getting the word out,” said Camiscioli.

Residents are encouraged to report all suspected scam activity via phone or online to the department’s non-emergency line at (856) 429–3000.

“The IRS is not asking for money via the phone. If anybody says they’re sending the Haddonfield Police out to arrest you, if you did not do something, that’s absolutely a scam. That’s not how it works,” Camiscioli said.

Although Haddonfield has been recently named one of the safest communities in New Jersey, Camiscioli also urged residents to be mindful that safety doesn’t preclude vigilance, especially on one’s own property.

“We’ve had some car thefts the past few months, but most of the problem is people leaving keys in the car. Every single one of our recent car thefts has seen the key left either in the console or in the glove box. We haven’t had a forced entry in a car burglary in months, so almost all of them are unlocked vehicles,” he said.

The recent string of burglaries in the borough has taken place on the east side, toward the high school. Officers have been patrolling from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., but the problem is when one area is covered, offenders will migrate to a quieter area.

“What you can’t do is leave stuff in the car. They’re coming here because they know the cars are unlocked and it’s easy pickings. There’s sometimes a lot of good stuff in there: electronics, cash, you name it. When I was detective, I could tell you the gamut of what was taken, and it’ll make your head spin!” Camiscioli revealed with a laugh.

Former radio broadcaster, hockey writer, Current: main beat reporter for Haddonfield, Cherry Hill and points beyond.

Stay Connected

- Advertisment -

Current Issue