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Teterboro Big Box Stores Boost Demands On Moonachie Police

Moonachie Police Officer Andrew Finch outside the Teterboro Walmart.
Moonachie Police Officer Andrew Finch outside the Teterboro Walmart. Photo Credit: DAILY VOICE photo
Moonachie Police Chief Michael Maguire
Moonachie Police Chief Michael Maguire Photo Credit: DAILY VOICE photo

MOONACHIE, N.J. -- Before Walmart and Costco opened in Teterboro, Moonachie police averaged seven to 14 arrests a year out of the southern end of the tiny borough.

They made 45 arrests in Teterboro last year -- 32 of them at the shopping complex, which is adding a "Restaurant Row" that includes BJ's, Texas Roadhouse and Panera Bread.

"Ninety to 100 percent of those were for shoplifting," Moonachie Police Chief Michael Maguire said.

Earlier this month, an accused Costco shoplifter reportedly pulled a knife on a security guard. Earlier this week, the same man was charged with taking a flat screen TV, PlayStation console and DVD player from Walmart.

Car crashes in tiny town divided by Route 46 were up, as well. There were 70 in 2014 -- which more than doubled to 152 last year.

"So far, in 2016, we've had 100 -- and we're only halfway through the year," the chief said.

That's about all that's increased for his department.

In his 30 years on the force, Maguire said, a single officer has been added -- and that was last year.

"I'm told it's a budgetary issue," he said, emphasizing that he doesn't blame borough officials.

Moonachie police began patrolling the south end of Teterboro in 1995. Little Ferry police patrolled the north end. Bergen County police took over for a few years.

That changed midway through last year, when Moonachie got the north end, as well.

"We revised our agreement after the Bergen County police couldn't do it anymore," Mayor Dennis Vaccaro explained. "Teterboro came to us and asked us to do it. We're compensated for it through a shared service agreement."

The staffing issue is more budgetary than anything else, the mayor told Daily Voice.

"I don't think we could ever have enough police officers," he said. "But, we're constricted budget-wise.

"Safety is our number one issue, and our chief runs a very efficient force. He's done a great job. We have one of the finest forces in the county."

Maguire has 16 officers on the road serving a combined population of 6,900 in the two municipalities. Two officers are out on leave.

"These are very small towns. It's basically all industry," the chief said. "But we need at least 22 or 23 officers to cover both.

"I'd like to do more proactive policing. Now, with limited manpower, I mostly do reactive policing."

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