Affirming Support for Police, Maplewood Recognizes ‘No Town is Immune to Racial Issues’

by The Village Green
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The Maplewood Township Committee voted unanimously on a resolution that affirms the town’s faith in its police force, while recognizing that Maplewood is not “immune” to the effects of race-based violence that have affected communities throughout the country.

Township Committee member Marlon K. Brownlee read the resolution aloud at Wednesday’s TC meeting. Mayor Vic DeLuca said the township had spent a good deal of time crafting its wording, noting the input of Chief Robert Cimino. Brownlee said the language was “carefully crafted” to recognize the good work done every day by Maplewood Police while reaffirming that the town must make “intentional efforts” to ensure citizens’ rights are respected.

Here are Brownlee’s introductory remarks, followed by the resolution itself:

While our focus is usually, justifiably and obviously on “local” matters – such as our extensive discussions this evening – we also know that there are larger matters outside of just Maplewood that impact our lives in this town as well.

In light of a number of recent, highly publicized and tragic events that have occurred in communities throughout the United States, we the Maplewood Township Committee, as leaders in this town, feel that collectively we have an obligation to speak here with one voice, to say that we value and intend to continue to ensure the public safety of all our residents.

We recognize that our town, like any town in this country, is part of a larger state, and that state is part of the country as a whole, and that no town, even ours, is immune to the racial issues that continue to plague this country – and indeed, the world as a whole – and that it is only through all of our continued efforts and diligence that we will be able to be the diverse, integrated, and truly inclusive community that we aspire to be.

Other municipalities in NJ have adopted resolutions stating what they affirm, including South Orange. Tonight, I’d like to read a resolution of our town’s affirmations, and to ask my colleagues to join me in officially adopting this resolution for the public record.

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Statement of the Maplewood Township Committee

November 4, 2015

Public safety is the number one priority of the Maplewood Township Committee. We salute the men and women of the Maplewood Police Department for their hard work and dedication to our community, and for upholding the highest standards in their interactions with all residents in our community. We fully support the mission of the Maplewood Police Department “to serve and safeguard all persons within the Township in a fair, safe, professional and considerate manner.” We applaud the Department’s commitment “to prevent, identify and suppress criminal activity…while ensuring that the rights of all citizens are recognized, respected and preserved.”

We also know these are difficult times and there are serious questions about race, inequality and fairness within the nation’s criminal justice system. A July 2015 New York Times/CBS News poll found that “most Americans think race relations are generally bad and blacks hold a particularly negative view of the nation’s racial climate.” The poll also found that “while most Blacks say the police in their communities make them feel safe, blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to say the police make them feel mostly anxious.” Additionally, “blacks are eight times as likely as whites to say they have been stopped by the police because of their race, and almost two-thirds of black men report having been racially profiled by the police.” “Black lives matter” has become the rallying call in protest of the fatal shootings of black men by police officers in Ferguson, Baltimore, North Charleston , Cleveland and other communities.

As leaders of a diverse and inclusive community that seeks to build trust among all its members, we are deeply concerned about the growing divide on race in our society. Most white and black Americans are isolated from one another in everyday life. Of the 6,000 hate crimes reported in 2013, nearly one-half were based on race and 79 percent of racial hate crimes were against people of color. Median household wealth for whites in 2014 was $142,000 and only $11,000 for blacks. Life expectancy rates for blacks continue to lag behind whites and infant mortality rates are higher in black communities.

The Township of Maplewood will join with other levels of government, community groups, religious leaders and others to discuss racial equity, employ best practices and put forth proposals that help address these divisions.

  • We support President Obama’s call for more community conversations across the nation about structural racism and inherent bias.

On the local level:

  • Funding is provided to the Community Coalition on Race to build a more cohesive and intentionally integrated community.
  • The Clergy Alliance was formed by the Police Chief to create stronger bonds between key religious leaders in the community and the Police Department.
  • The Maplewood Community Action Program was established to regularly bring together neighborhood leaders from across town to interact with Township representatives and share information about activities in their different neighborhoods.
  • Our police department sponsors teen activities to help strengthen the relationship between young people and police officers.
  • Our police officers regularly attend diversity training classes to increase their capacity to interact with a diverse group of stakeholders.
  • We seek to expand volunteer and paid employment opportunities for people of color and women.
  • Racial and gender diversity are considered when making appointments to Township Boards and Committee to ensure broad representation.
  • Targeted outreach efforts are undertaken to recruit a robust pool of candidates of color as police officers.
  • New businesses are encouraged to make employment opportunities available to local residents.
  • We support national and state initiatives that will provide additional tools to help the Maplewood Police Department continue to uphold their high standards in their interactions with all residents of our community.
    • We favor passage of NJ Assembly Bill 4343/Senate Bill 2888 which requires all county and municipal police departments to “develop and adopt cultural diversity training courses that includes instruction and exercises designed to focus on the needs of the racial, ethnic and religious communities within each department’s respective jurisdiction.”
    • We support federal and state programs that will fund the purchase of body cameras for police officers.

 

 

 

 

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