Rising crime in Roselle reveals political establishment’s weakness, inefficiency

Roselle ranked 18—out of 468 municipal law enforcement departments in New Jersey—for police brutality, or excessive use of force against women, men, and minors.

At the same time, the number of shootings in the borough has been rising because gun violence is unchecked by politicians who prefer press conferences to actual policing and are on an austerity drive that has effectively adopted policies that defund the police.

Residents say they feel unsafe, but Councilwomen Denise Wilkerson and Cindy Thomas are running for re-election on a platform that largely ignores the growing violence in Roselle.

Wilkerson, who is running for office for the fourth time in five years, and Thomas each call themselves entrepreneurs who have restored the promise of a responsive government, but lingering fears about crime contradict that assertion.

Wilkerson and Thomas say they have “immense qualifications, track record of success, and dedication to the borough” but most residents cannot identify a single accomplishment according to a recent survey.

The biography for Thomas on the municipal website is blank.

Councilwoman-at-Large Denise Wilkerson currently serves as Council President and Chair of the Governance Committee. She is a member of the Redevelopment, DPW, and Recreation Committees. However, dearer to her heart is her work in the community. She is the Assistant Secretary of the NAACP Roselle Area Branch, a lifetime member of the National Council of Negro Women, and has served as President of the Union County chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Wilkerson is also an author, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker.

4th Ward Councilwoman Cindy Thomas is the Chair of the Recreation Committee and sits on the Governance and Finance committees as well. She is a long-time Roselle resident, former Board of Education member, and successful small business owner.

As the 4th Ward Councilwoman, Thomas has delivered for her residents by revitalizing Grove Street Park, focusing significant resources on repaving 4th Ward roads, and dealing with unsightly neighborhood issues through increased code enforcement.

At about 10:26 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, 2022, police responded to a Sheridan Avenue residence where an 18-year-old Linden teenager was shot while leaving a house party that ended due to a physical confrontation.

Wilkerson lives two doors away from the house where the party got out of hand. The gunshot victim was in front of her house when the buillet struck his leg.

The victim sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to medical treatment.

Roselle Police Department says the shooting is still under investigation but no suspect has been identified, no arrests have been made and authorities have not recovered the weapon.

The Borough officials have still been unable to solve the mystery behind three shootings that occurred last year on March 2, March 5 and March 9.

Borough officials believe those shootings are unrelated, no one has been arrested and no weapons have been recovered.

The first shooting occurred Tuesday, March 2, 2021, on the 100 block of West Ninth Avenue. A suspect discharged a gun at an individual who was not hit.

The second shooting took place on Friday, March 5, 2021, at 240 East 1st Avenue. Three individuals were struck by bullets, but none sustained major injury.

The third shooting was the morning of Tuesday, March 9, 2021, when an unknown assailant fired a gun at the 200 block of East Ninth Avenue. No one was struck.

Roselle resident Dominick Richards apparently killed himself and Anishalee Cortes in 2017, despite a restraining order and his prior arrest on charges that he assaulted her at gunpoint after breaking into the woman’s home.

The body of 49-year-old Dominick Richards was found at his home along with that of 22-year-old Anishalee Cortes, of Newark, who had an existing restraining order against her killer before the murder-suicide on the 900 block of Chestnut St. in Roselle on Tuesday June 13, 2017.

Newark police arrested Richards after he had broken into Cortes’ home and assaulted her at gunpoint. Police seized a gun but two months before he killed the woman and himself, Richards was released despite being charged with aggravated assault with a firearm.

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