By DON STINE
Asbury Park’s new Deputy Police Chief Anthony Salerno, who was sworn in on May 1, said this week that his 26 years experience on the force helps gives him insight and provide some guidance in addressing crime problems in the city.
“Our biggest challenge is to eradicate gun violence, to instill greater confidence in the police department, and to encourage and develop a process where the police and the community get to know each other better,” he said.
Salerno joined the Asbury Park police department in 1988 and worked his way up through the ranks. During his tenure he was in charge of internal affairs, a patrol commander, and handled investigations in the detective bureau and in the narcotics and gang units.
The city had been without a deputy chief ever since current Police Chief Mark Kinmon, who previously held the position, was promoted in 2007. Kinmon said Salerno was one of three captains who took the test to become the deputy chief.
Salerno said there needs to be trust on both sides in Asbury Park- in the police department and in the community.
“I have a philosophy that I believe works. A lot of people talk about community policing but do little with it or to implement it. We need to do it the right way in Asbury Park by incorporating a partnership with the police, residents, clergy and educators. We need to bring them all together because police alone, or any one of those other components alone, cannot solve the problem- but, together, we can,” he said.
Salerno said he is a big fan of Bill Bratton, the current New York City Police Commissioner, where his zero-tolerance policy has been credited with reducing petty and violent crime.
Bratton’s policing style is influenced by the “broken windows theory” that states if minor, petty crime is not dealt with, crime will increase. He advocates having an ethnically diverse police force representative of the population, maintaining a strong relationship with the law-abiding population, tackling police corruption, being tough on gangs, and having a strict no-tolerance stance toward anti-social behavior.
“We need to build a strong base of community members, neighborhood watches, educators, mentor our youth, enforce the law, and instill family values,” he said.
Another important part of the equation to help Asbury Park along is jobs, Salerno said.
“We need economic opportunities and jobs,” he said.
And he said all of these things are important parts of any comprehensive program to help Asbury Park.
“Not one piece of puzzle is more important than another. We need to realize that if we leave one piece out, then we have failed,” he said.
And Salerno understands that Asbury Park’s problems can’t be turned around overnight.
“We can’t turn it around in the short run. If it is to turn around, we need to implement things step by step with strong principles, good strategy, and with the community working together,” he said.
“And we cannot arrest our way out of the violence because that just becomes a vicious cycle. We lock a criminal up, they are released on bail, go to court, and are back on street- or somebody else takes their place and their territory and the syndrome continues,” he says
“This is why we need the entire puzzle,” he said.
Salerno praised the efforts of the city’s Community Action Network- a faith-based initiative of community, clergy, educators and police.
“It’s these grassroots, community-based programs that will start to make a real change in Asbury Park,” he said.
Salerno graduated from Asbury Park High School in 1970 and attended Brookdale Community College and then Northwestern University where he received his certification in Police Staff and Command in 2001. He won an award for the highest academic standards when he attended the Monmouth County Police academy.
He is married with two sons: Anthony, 39, and Marc, 21, who is a junior at Boston University majoring in economics. He has two grandchildren.
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