Lakewood Police Chief Rob Lawson related the following to Matzav.com:
There has been considerable interest concerning an Eruv that was taken down by a member of the police department. There has been speculation this was an anti-Semitic gesture and I would like to set the record straight on this.
Earlier this year, I received correspondence from JCP&L informing all police departments of the following:New Jersey State Statute 27:5-9 prohibits the placing of signs (political or otherwise) on public utility poles. In addition, Section 27:5-23 states “It shall be the duty of all departments of State or local government and all county and municipal officers charged with the enforcement of State and municipal laws under the direction of the commissioner to assist in the enforcement of the previsions of this act and the orders issuer or rules or regulations adopted pursuant to this act…the Chief of Police of an municipality are authorized and charged under the direction of the commissioner to enforce the provision of this act and any rules or regulations adopted pursuant thereto” Section 27:5-16 prescribes penalties ranging from $50 to $500 for each offense. Each day of the violation may be deemed to be a separate offense.
(Please visit the following link for additional information: http://www.hopewelltwp.org/njpl.pdf)
I passed this information along at a staff meeting and it wasn’t until last week that it became an issue when an Eruv was taken down since it was attached to a JCP&L pole and technically in violation of the above state statute. When I became aware of what had transpired, I called our regional JCP&L Manager and asked him if we could allow the Eruvs on their poles since it is not a sign, poster or banner as described in the statute. I was told that nylon type fishing line Eruvs on their utility poles are definitely not allowed since it would create a hazard for their workers but that a plastic strip (described as a piece of conduit?) was allowable. I also discussed the situation with Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, who is further researching it with officials from JCP&L.
Subsequently, I called the homeowner (who was very reasonable and understanding) whose Eruv had been taken down and explained the rationale for what had taken place.
All this being said, it is our mission to protect and serve the community and an integral part of that is being respectful and sensitive to the religious practices and customs of all Lakewood residents. The Eruv in question had been up for over a decade and if JCP&L had not removed it when they performed service to the wires on this pole, it is not appropriate for the police to remove it and in the future, it will not be done.