In July, Collingswood Patch reported on the story of Michael Richards, a Collingswood resident who was eventually incarcerated after his neighbors—and family—could no longer overlook a number of crimes driven by his serious addiction to crack-cocaine.
In a similar vein is the story of 31-year-old Collingswood resident Eric J. Pauloski, whose battle with heroin is at the root of a recent series of arrests this month, each about one week apart.
Pauloski is no stranger to the Collingswood police blotter. He was pinched in September 2011 for possession of a hypodermic syringe when he was found passed out in an unregistered vehicle. He was collared again in February 2012 in connection with an alleged burglary at Pete’s News Agency.
In fact, a review of public arrest records indicates Pauloski has been a repeat offender for years, almost exclusively in connection with drug-related offenses. Such was the case throughout September.
At 8:30 a.m. September 4, Pauloski was arrested in the 600 block of Haddon Avenue for a number of outstanding warrants. A check on the serial number of the bicycle he was riding revealed that it had been stolen from the Collingswood Bike Share Program in 2011. He was also allegedly found to be in possession of a substance police believed to be heroin.
Pauloski was charged with possession of a controlled, dangerous substance (CDS) and receiving stolen property, and was remanded to the Camden County correctional facility, unable to meet the $3,000 full-cash bail.
Officers encountered Pauloski again not a week later, when they were dispatched to the area of Lees and Atlantic Avenues at 9:20 a.m. September 11 to investigate a report of a male seen to be looking into vehicles.
At the scene they discovered Pauloski, who was allegedly in possession of a hypodermic syringe and a quantity of a substance believed to be heroin. Again, he was arrested for possession of CDS, and released pending a court date.
Eight days after that incident, Pauloski was found at the intersection of Haddon Avenue and Browning Road at 8 a.m. September 19, allegedly with a hypodermic syringe protruding from his pocket. As officers apprehended Pauloski, he reportedly attempted to swallow a baggie of what they believed to be heroin.
Pauloski was charged with possession of CDS, tampering with evidence, and possession of a hypodermic syringe. Again he was released on his own recognizance.
There are a handful of such persons known to police informally as “frequent flyers,” and departments in the area have no shortage of frustration in dealing with them.
Part of that stems from the cyclical nature of their crimes—the Camden City locations at which drug buys frequently occur are well-known, as are the repeat offenders collared there.
Then there’s the feeling that for all the times the same person can be arrested for offenses of the same nature, it’s just not going to change the behavior that lands them in lock-up.
New laws signed by Governor Chris Christie this year will offer nonviolent offenders a treatment alternative to jail time; one conceivable starting point for things to change. New policing priorities under a (theoretically) better-networked, county-wide metro police force could make a potential impact on the problem as well. There’s no way to guarantee that either will play a definitive role in the regional drug problem.
One thing is for sure, however: at some point, the clock is going to run out on someone like Eric J. Pauloski. As a community, his neighbors have to hope he gets help before then—for everyone’s sake.