In Kiryas Joel, more police means more tickets issued
By Chris Mckenna • Times Herald-Record
KIRYAS JOEL — Complaints are mounting about a deluge of traffic tickets state troopers have written while patrolling Kiryas Joel to quell the latest conflicts between its feuding factions.
Several hundred citations have been issued since the disturbances began on Jan. 27, community members said, although their estimates varied widely, and no exact count was available on Monday either through the state police or the Monroe Town Court, where the cases will be heard.
Maj. Edward Raso, commander of State Police Troop F, said police have heightened their presence in the village since the dispute began and may have written more tickets than usual simply because more troopers are stationed there, doing their jobs.
"We write tickets for people who violate the law," Raso said.
But incensed leaders of the Hasidic community accuse police of waging a discriminatory ticket blitz. Mayor Abraham Wieder has appealed to State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt and urged both Monroe judges to delay acting on the summonses until he can meet with them.
The recent clashes stem from a wedding held at a new reception hall in the basement of B'nai Yoel, a school run by dissident community members just outside the village in the Town of Woodbury.
The celebration prompted angry protests because a dissident rabbi officiated at it instead of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum — leader of Kiryas Joel's main congregation — or one of his subordinates; until now, dissident families have had their weddings outside of Orange County or allowed Teitelbaum to lead the services.
Dissident leader Joseph Waldman said Monday that he appreciates the beefed-up police presence that followed, even if it means more people are getting tickets.
"We are extremely happy that they are here," he said. "Because they are here, we have peace."
One Kiryas Joel man, who asked that his name be withheld, said he was ticketed three times in a week for the same two offenses: a cracked windshield and expired inspection sticker.
He accused troopers of "excessive policing," saying they could have given him time to correct the problems.