Nutley’s Neighborhood Watch program returns with a new twist


Nutley Public Safety Director and Commissioner Alphonse Petracco, police Chief Thomas Strumolo and Det. Lt. Anthony Montanari unveiled plans for reinstating the township’s Neighborhood Watch Program last week at a packed meeting in the Nutley Courthouse.

Montanari, who presented the majority of the night, kicked off the meeting by thanking those in attendance (and on Zoom) before introducing the reinvented program (the Township’s first one was initiated in the ‘70s and would “occur,” heretofore, in people’s homes — but the watch has evolved thanks to the advent of social media.) Prior to presenting a slideshow to attendees, Montanari introduced Strumolo and Petracco.

“I’m encouraged to see so many new faces,” Strumolo said. “We have a great police department and we are very proactive, but we can’t do it without your help. You are the eyes and the ears of the community and the Neighborhood Watch program is a great way to get you to help us as well as get your neighbors involved to help better the communication between residents and the police department. We have one of the safest communities in the area and this program will help us keep it that way. ”

Petracco then took to the floor to thank police officers and laud the job that the public safety department does.

“The rules have changed in our country and especially in our state,” Petracco said. “We lock them up and they are out of jail before the police are done with their paperwork. That is what we’re up against.” That is why we are bringing back the neighborhood watch.

“We are going to keep the pressure on in every possible way so that these actors will not look to come to Nutley. One of the things I hear every day is that our residents don’t want to bother us when they see something suspicious. Let me tell you, you are not bothering us. You are helping us. If you see something, say something. That is how we work best to keep our community safe.”

Montanari then facilitated a detailed, 45-minute presentation of the program.

He explained as a members of the neighborhood watch, residents would work closely with police to determine areas and zones of town in need of closer moniting.

A group of residents in each area will be formed and a team/block captain will be assigned to oversee. The captains will maintain an active list of residents and members within their zones. This information will be shared with the Nutley Police Department’s liaison.

Crime activity and information will be disseminated through the captains and the department’s neighborhood watch email.

Following the meeting, Petracco was extremely pleased with the turnout and the dozens of residents who had already signed up for the program.

“Unfortunately, we live in a funny time where the good guys are being handcuffed instead of the bad guys,” he said. “And sometimes it can be very frustrwating for law-enforcement professionals to do the job they were sworn in to do.

“But I am greatly encouraged by everyone who came out tonight in freezing temperatures and to those who have volunteered to become part of the neighborhood watch. I have lived here all my life and Nutley has always been one of the safest towns to live in. This program allows us to be proactive so that our department, along with the community, keeps it that way. Tonight was the first step and all of us in public safety are looking forward to working together with our residents to make the Neighborhood Watch one of our most successful programs.”

Montanari, meanwhile, says he was happy with the turnout for the presentation he coordinated.

“Nutley has almost 30,000 residents — that’s a lot of eyes watching out for one another,” the police department’s long-time public-information officer said.

Sign up to participate in the neighborhood watch program by visiting

Questions may be directed to Petracco’s office at (973) 284-4929.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.