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Alpine, NJ - Parkway Police Chief: No Special Perks For Chaverim, Allegations Of Insensitivity Are Unfair

Published on: August 26, 2016 10:57 AM
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Inset photo shows the summons given to Chaverim memberInset photo shows the summons given to Chaverim member

Alpine, NJ - Was a Palisades Interstate Parkway police officer acting insensitively when he ticketed a Chaverim member for helping another community volunteer change his tire at a highway rest stop, or was he merely enforcing the law?

That question has been the subject of much debate since Wednesday night when a Chaverim volunteer from Williamsburg was issued a summons for coming to the aid of a Hatzolah member with a flat tire.

According to Rabbi Aron Kohn, founder of Chaverim, the Hatzolah’s member’s car was in the parking area at the far end of the Mobil station at the base of the northbound Palisades when the incident took place. 

Rabbi Kohn said that the unidentified Chaverim volunteer recognized the Hatzolah member and had begun changing the flat tire when the men were approached by Officer Gregory Kimbro Jr. of the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police.

“The police officer said ‘you can’t work here it is a restricted area,’” Rabbi Kohn told VIN News. “He tried explaining that he was being a good Samaritan and wasn’t making any money but the police officer told him that he didn’t care and asked to see his license and registration.”

The offense on the ticket was listed as “unauthorized service vehicle,” and Officer Kimbro told the men that there were only two licensed operators who were permitted to serve vehicles on the southern portion of the parkway. 

The actual cost of the ticket issued will be determined when the Chaverim member appears in court in Alpine, New Jersey to answer the summons on the morning of September 6th.

Rabbi Kohn described the Officer Kimbro’s actions as outrageous.

“The fact is that he was helping someone in a safe place,” said Rabbi Kohn. “It is so not American and makes no sense at all.”

Assemblyman Dov Hikind admitted to being puzzled by the incident and said that he is aware of been other instances where volunteers from the Jewish community have run into trouble with members of the Parkway police. 

Rabbi Kohn expressed the same sentiment, saying that members of Hatzolah and Chesed Shel Emes have both had unpleasant encounters with Parkway police.

The Palisades Interstate Parkway Police has long been dogged by allegations of profiling by its officers, as previously reported on VIN News (http://goo.gl/ye5vHk), but complaints against officers dropped steeply after dashcams were installed in police cruisers in 2008. Former New Jersey Assemblyman John Rooney called for disbanding the force and placing the Parkway under the jurisdiction of the Bergen County Police Department in 2009.

“People have said the officers are anti-black, anti-gay, anti-Semitic and filed complaints against them,” said Rooney.

In a statement released on Thursday, Hikind said that the 27 member police force that patrols the Palisades is in need of sensitivity training and he offered to work with elected officials to clarify the situation in order to prevent further similar occurrences.

“This is America, where the president of the United States talks about volunteerism,” said Hikind.  “We have had other problems in the past on the Palisades and I think it is time to address this so that things like that don’t happen again.”

Chief Michael Coppola of the Parkway police disagreed strongly with the notion that there was any insensitivity on display during Wednesday night’s incident.  He said that an investigation into the matter revealed that the two men did not know each other and that Chaverim had been called to render assistance at the scene.

“They were part of a service that was called to respond and give aid,” said Chief Coppola.  “He said that he was dispatched to the scene and he was issued a summons the same way that any other tow service would have received.”

The Palisades Interstate Parkway Police website clearly spells out the regulations regarding service and towing on the roadway, stating that only contracted service providers are permitted on the Parkway, in areas of the Palisades Interstate Park or other roadways within the Parkway system.

Currently there are only three authorized providers:  Sano’s Towing in Palisades Park, BCL Towing in Teaneck and DTR Towing in Closter.

Chief Coppola noted that the fact that Chaverim does not take money for its services does not differentiate them from any other towing or service company.

“They were called just like AAA,” said Chief Coppola.  “There is no difference between them and AAA.”

Chief Coppola noted that if the Hatzolah volunteer had called a friend to help him change the tire there would have been no issue, but calling Chaverim for help was a completely different matter.

“They called someone with a purposeful meaning to respond and render aid,” said Chief Coppola. “There is no spin here, no inference and no alluding to.”

The idea that the incident has evolved into a debate about insensitivity is troubling to Chief Coppola.

“This was not a surprise, not a catch 22 and not a gotcha,” said Chief Coppola.  “That is very unfair to our officers and to our organization…and quite frankly that is discriminatory.”

Chief Coppola noted that his agency works hand in hand with nearby Hatzolah crews from New York and that Parkway police are notified when those ambulance corps, which are licensed in New York State, are traveling on the Parkway which runs through both New York and New Jersey. 

He suggested that if Chaverim wants to help stranded motorists on the Parkway that they go through the approval process to become an authorized service provider.

“We take offense that we have become singled out as an agency just because they want to be more vocal than some other agency,” said Chief Coppola.


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Read Comments (26)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 26, 2016 at 11:13 AM Anonymous Says:

The garden state has a sensible law if you get a flat only #gsp can help. This is due to safety. They send down vehicles with warning lights so people stay far away.

2

 Aug 26, 2016 at 11:21 AM He needs an attitudinal adjustment Says:

This officer Coppola sounds like a real A - - - - - e. Since when did performing a volunteer Good Samaritan act in a safe manner become a crime in the United States of America. No difference between that and AAA which is a paid members only service?????? Is he kidding. This Chief of police should be put in Jail for the crime of deliberate impersonation of someone with low intelligence. He has the Chutzpa to take offence??????? Listen hear Mr Hikind, stop being a dolt and calling for sensitivity training. This Parkway Police Force is clearly corrupt and needs to be disbanded and demolished and all of these corrupt officers need to be Fired with a capital F. This is a prime example of police tyranny and now you understand why the African Americans who are also targeted and ticketed for minor infractions with huge fines are angry. I could understand now why they want to burn down their cities. The anger and the frustration of powerlessness in the face of official state sanctioned abuse is enough to drive a normal person insane.

3

 Aug 26, 2016 at 11:25 AM eli845 Says:

Ok I hear what he is saying. BUT, the definition of Chaveirim is friends. So as he said. If the guy would call a friend to help him it would be ok. Well he did. But go explain to a goy KOL YISROEL CHAVEIRIM.

4

 Aug 26, 2016 at 11:44 AM inNY Says:

The Police is 100% right, he goes by the rule of book what it says.. you can't blame him.. you disagree with the law, you have a choice to contact the lawmakers of this town to make changes.

5

 Aug 26, 2016 at 12:22 PM davidm Says:

The police officer has discretion based on their own judgment, for this police officer to issue a ticket to a volunteer shows his character, yes he may be right by the laws but he should have used some commonsense and not issued a summons. The problem with this department they have no sense of community because they don't patrol a community. And for the Chief to compare a volunteer to AAA shows that he clearly doesn't understand what Community and "friends" are for. Welcome to America were the cops but can be obnoxious and still be right and his bosses will back him, this Chief needs to look at it and realize it just doesn't seem right for a summons to have been issued.

6

 Aug 26, 2016 at 12:25 PM Commenter # 2 Says:

Commenters 1 3 and 4 are so wrong. The police chief admits that if he would have called a "friend" as opposed to a "service" then there would be no ticket because it would be "legal". So clearly there was no safety issue because if there was a safety issue then he could have been ticketed for violating public safety even if he were a "friend". Also the facts of the case show there was no safety issue because he was parked in the gas station at the far end of the parking area. Chaverim as a volunteer good samaritan no fee service is clearly not the same thing as a for profit towing service. It would be interesting to have a full investigation of who gets to have a license to tow on the Palisades and if there are any kickbacks involved between those who control the towing service licenses and those who control the palisades police. A person or organization should not need a "license" to perform a good deed or good samaritan act in a free country like the United states of America. This police department is violating both the letter and spirit of the constitution and the concept of liberty. People, wake up, your rights have been taken away and you don't even realize it.

7

 Aug 26, 2016 at 12:26 PM yaakov doe Says:

The law's purpose is to protect motorists. The officer should have used a little discretion and only given a warning.

8

 Aug 26, 2016 at 01:32 PM puppydogs Says:

Chaverim Lives Matter

9

 Aug 26, 2016 at 01:35 PM chosen-nation Says:

Reply to #4  
inNY Says:

The Police is 100% right, he goes by the rule of book what it says.. you can't blame him.. you disagree with the law, you have a choice to contact the lawmakers of this town to make changes.

Whatever the technicalities, common sense should still be applied. Based on the videos, the cop clearly acted as a bully.

10

 Aug 26, 2016 at 01:46 PM Anonymous Says:

Always a chillul hashem. We break a law, we cry antisemitism.

11

 Aug 26, 2016 at 01:50 PM Anonymous Says:

This Chief Coppola should be fired for being an idiot. He doesn't see the difference between a volunteer / good Samaritan who doesn't get paid and a paid service provider.

12

 Aug 26, 2016 at 02:29 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
inNY Says:

The Police is 100% right, he goes by the rule of book what it says.. you can't blame him.. you disagree with the law, you have a choice to contact the lawmakers of this town to make changes.

Your probably a Bernie sanders supporter.......

13

 Aug 26, 2016 at 03:13 PM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #2  
He needs an attitudinal adjustment Says:

This officer Coppola sounds like a real A - - - - - e. Since when did performing a volunteer Good Samaritan act in a safe manner become a crime in the United States of America. No difference between that and AAA which is a paid members only service?????? Is he kidding. This Chief of police should be put in Jail for the crime of deliberate impersonation of someone with low intelligence. He has the Chutzpa to take offence??????? Listen hear Mr Hikind, stop being a dolt and calling for sensitivity training. This Parkway Police Force is clearly corrupt and needs to be disbanded and demolished and all of these corrupt officers need to be Fired with a capital F. This is a prime example of police tyranny and now you understand why the African Americans who are also targeted and ticketed for minor infractions with huge fines are angry. I could understand now why they want to burn down their cities. The anger and the frustration of powerlessness in the face of official state sanctioned abuse is enough to drive a normal person insane.

Police tyranny? Not at all. The Officer was right in light of the Parkway's regulations...and those regulations seem reasonable and neutral on their face.

An appropriate response for us would be to investigate negotiating a regulatory exception for bona-fide volunteer organizations, distinguishing them from those like AAA.

I think your comment is more than a wee bit over the top.

14

 Aug 26, 2016 at 04:24 PM Balaboos Says:

About 25 years ago, I stopped at this service station for mother a"h to use the facilities.
She was handicapped and I had a permit cleary displayed in the window (and parked in the reserved zone). When we came back, there was a summons on the car.
I plead not guilty with a copy of the permit as the defense. The officer denied there was a permit.
It went back and forth and I eventually won after many months...

15

 Aug 26, 2016 at 05:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Does the New Jersey police department issue tickets to 1) any one who helps any one fix a flat on any parkway ? 2) in any gas station off a parkway ? 3) Or to any one individual who fixes himself a flat tire ? 3) Do you have to be towed ? 4) Imagine 11: pm at night spending 2 hours vs 10 minutes ? 5) do they have the same rule on the garden state parkway ?

16

 Aug 26, 2016 at 05:52 PM yankie Says:

Reply to #4  
inNY Says:

The Police is 100% right, he goes by the rule of book what it says.. you can't blame him.. you disagree with the law, you have a choice to contact the lawmakers of this town to make changes.

Correct ! Not a nice law, but the law nevertheless.

17

 Aug 26, 2016 at 06:49 PM ELEPHANT Says:

Investgate the kickbacks they receive from those 3 towing companies.

18

 Aug 26, 2016 at 07:10 PM #2 Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

Your probably a Bernie sanders supporter.......

Actually I am a Trump Supporter but you are probably a Hillary supporter.

19

 Aug 27, 2016 at 03:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Just follow the laws of the state. Get stuck on the road? Call the licensed agencies and then you don't need to cry antisemitism every hour.

20

 Aug 27, 2016 at 09:49 PM AuthenticSatmar Says:

There is something missing. Why did the officer approach him at first, for him to reply that he was dispatched? He didn't come in a service vehicle, his vehicle wasn't marked, and to a passerby it should've looked like friends changing a tire.
The fact is the officer was looking for a reason to bother them and eventually found it.
As for a service being called, Chaveirim is not a service. They are there to help you reach a friend. Can i call my friend to help me change the tire?
When this ticket goes to trial, the entire community should show up. The law wasn't broken and the comments here about chilul hashem and law breakers are from disgusting self hating jews more busy with "Tikun Oilam" than everyday Jewish living.

21

 Aug 27, 2016 at 10:35 PM Upset Says:

Jews should please not use the term "Good Samaritan." The term comes from the Christian Bible. In the context of the story JC said the Jews are wicked but then there is the good Samaritan the enemies of the Jews. The Talmud says that Ezra cursed the Samaritans for helping to stop the building of the second Temple in Jerusalem!

22

 Aug 28, 2016 at 01:47 AM AHIVIM Says:

As a family member of the car in need of the flat the chevirim member that got the ticket happened to have pass by and he was not dispatched !

23

 Aug 28, 2016 at 09:22 AM Good Sam Says:

Reply to #21  
Upset Says:

Jews should please not use the term "Good Samaritan." The term comes from the Christian Bible. In the context of the story JC said the Jews are wicked but then there is the good Samaritan the enemies of the Jews. The Talmud says that Ezra cursed the Samaritans for helping to stop the building of the second Temple in Jerusalem!

Although the term originates historically as you stated, in the modern sense it refers to specific legalistic terminology. There are on the books "Good Samaritan" laws in various matters which exempt citizens from legal liability when they are engaged in helping people. For example donating leftover food to a food bank or a Tomche Shabbos. If you took reasonable precautions to ensure food safety and someone gets sick from the donated food, you are exempt from liability according to the law. If you render assistance to someone having a medical emergency such as CPR you are exempt from liability if they try to sue you later and so on. Similarly here where the The "Good Samaritan" Chaverim Member was rendering assistance in a safe manner he should be exempt from liability and harassment from the Police. Acts of kindness done in a safe manner should absolutely not be criminalized and I am shocked that anyone would defend the acts of this overreaching police enforcement. The comments of the Chief further indicate that there is a serious problem in this department. Also this department has a long history of complaints against it from many diverse communities not just the Jews.

24

 Aug 28, 2016 at 09:47 AM AHIVIM Says:

Reply to #20  
AuthenticSatmar Says:

There is something missing. Why did the officer approach him at first, for him to reply that he was dispatched? He didn't come in a service vehicle, his vehicle wasn't marked, and to a passerby it should've looked like friends changing a tire.
The fact is the officer was looking for a reason to bother them and eventually found it.
As for a service being called, Chaveirim is not a service. They are there to help you reach a friend. Can i call my friend to help me change the tire?
When this ticket goes to trial, the entire community should show up. The law wasn't broken and the comments here about chilul hashem and law breakers are from disgusting self hating jews more busy with "Tikun Oilam" than everyday Jewish living.

your right!!

25

 Aug 28, 2016 at 11:13 AM Mark Levin Says:

Whether the officer acted within three law isn't my point, my point is that it is completely asinine that a good "samaritan" (a term a yid shouldn't use so I apologize) can't help someone on the PIP as long as it's done safely in a safe lcation, where this seemingly was.

There has to be only ONE reason for that law and that is collusion to benefit the tow truck operators.

#Pay2Play

26

 Aug 31, 2016 at 08:54 AM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #25  
Mark Levin Says:

Whether the officer acted within three law isn't my point, my point is that it is completely asinine that a good "samaritan" (a term a yid shouldn't use so I apologize) can't help someone on the PIP as long as it's done safely in a safe lcation, where this seemingly was.

There has to be only ONE reason for that law and that is collusion to benefit the tow truck operators.

#Pay2Play

The problem here is the Chaverim is a recognized organization, and that the assistance was being offered by a member of that organization...not by an individual acting alone I think the article made that clear.

27

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