ELIZABETH—Crime is shaping up as a hot issue in the upcoming primary election for mayor, where a county law enforcement officer is challenging Mayor Chris Bollwage, who is hoping to win a fifth term that will give him 20 years in the office.
Hoping to diffuse the potential impact of his inaction on some high profile cases, Bollwage has attempted to place blame on Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow.
Romankow responded by saying Bollwage needs a lesson in justice in a democracy.
Bollwage claims the Romankow is delaying the arrest of suspected killers because lawyers in the prosecutor’s office have been overly cautious, appearing concerned only with their success record in court.
Bollwage said Elizabeth police have been unable to obtain arrest warrants in at least three unsolved homicides where suspects have been identified.
Bollwage tried to use the prosecutor as a scapegoat after citizens protested demanding safer streets and pointed out that city police fail to solve most murders of black residents.
“It seems there’s a policy now not to be aggressive on arrest warrants and, frankly, we don’t understand it,” Bollwage said. “I’d like to see attorneys in the prosecutor’s office take the recommendations of law enforcement officials and not worry about their ratio of winning and losing.”
Romankow responded to Bollwage’s allegations by saying the mayor appears to be asking him to disregard constitutional standards that protect the rights of Americans.
“If the mayor has a standard that’s less than what is required by law, then that’s his position, and if he’d like to come to the office for a basic course on what is necessary to prove an individual guilty of a crime, he is welcome to do so,” Romankow said. “The policy has not changed and will not change.”
Romankow said he will not violate citizens’ right for the sake of political expedience because he is bound to uphold the constitution.
Romankow also said that Elizabeth police have not produced sufficient evidence to warrant arrests in the cases referred to by Bollwage.
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