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Bergen Law Enforcers Aim To Reduce Pedestrian Fatalities

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino emphasizes the importance of pedestrian safety. Photo Credit: Alexis Tarrazi
NJ State Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi shares a personal tragedy with the crowd. Photo Credit: Alexis Tarrazi
New Jersey State Police LTC Patrick Callahan cites statistics. Photo Credit: Alexis Tarrazi

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino took the opportunity during a news conference emphasizing pedestrian safety on Tuesday to tell a personal story.“I was a police officer in Emerson in 1975 when I got a call from the New York State police that a woman I knew was killed in a motor vehicle accident,” Saudino said, as he stood at a podium on the county courthouse steps.

“I had to go to her family’s house and deliver the news," the sheriff said. "It was by far the hardest thing I had to do in my entire police career.”

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi shared a story of her own.

“As children my husband’s brother was hit and killed by a car in front of their home,” she said. “As a mother of a 4-year-old, this is very important to me.”

To combat the increasing number of pedestrian fatalities involving motor vehicles in Bergen County, Saudino in conjunction with the Police Officer’s Association has implemented a Pedestrian Safety Campaign that will run through December.

Local police departments are participating in the promotion, which involves education through banners, billboards and pamphlets. They will also crack down on vehicles not yielding to pedestrians - as well as those0 pedestrians who jaywalk.

“There is not a week that goes by that I don’t get a call that a pedestrian was struck and killed in the roadway,” said Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.

New Jersey State Police LTC Patrick Callahan came armed with statistics.

However, he said: “Numbers can create a disconnect. Behind the numbers is a child, a grandmother, a mother. When I go through these numbers, think about what was lost.”

Last year, 39 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in Bergen County -- 24 of them pedestrians. The 62% countywide is double the state average.

“These are not just numbers," said Stephen Rajczyk of AAA North Jersey. "These are people, just like everyone here, that will never come home again.”

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