The long and tortuous chapter of a case of police brutality against Maplewood youth is nearing a close, at least in one respect. Maplewood Police Chief Robert Cimino, who presided over the explosive incidents of July 5, 2016, is apparently on his way out.
“We have been negotiating with [Chief Cimino] and are very close to a final resolution” to have the Chief resign, said Mayor Vic DeLuca at Tuesday’s Township Committee meeting. “We expect to vote on October 3 once the settlement is finalized and signed.”
One that is complete, the Township Committee has agreed to launch a nationwide search for a new chief. The governing body is listening to recommendations from groups including SOMA Action to include members of the community in the search, DeLuca said.
“We have more to do…but are moving in the direction all of us would like to see,” said DeLuca.
Meanwhile, TC member Greg Lembrich proposed the creation of a Citizens’ Public Safety Advisory Board, which would include community leaders who meet regularly with the Maplewood Police Department and the Maplewood Fire Department, to make recommendations and work cooperatively with the governing body to improve community relations.
The group would not have any legal or disciplinary authority.
Lembrich said that both South Orange and Jersey City have such a committee, and he recommended that Maplewood look to those as models.
Acting Police Chief James DuVaul has expressed his support for the idea, telling Lembrich that it would be “a very important step in renewing the public’s trust” in the police department and would lead to more openness and transparency.
The other members of the TC were in favor of the proposal. DeLuca noted he would like to see someone appointed who could help to analyze data regarding the department. Lembrich agreed and said that Jersey City’s board had a data analyst as a member.
Committeewoman India Larrier asked if members of some other township groups — such as the Senior Citizens Advisory Committee — could serve as liaisons. Lembrich liked the idea, and also said members of clergy, the local NAACP, and youth groups might also be involved.
In particular, the presence of local youth on the board “could bridge some of the gap that became clear in light of” the incidents of July 5.
Committeeman Frank McGeHee recommended that “regular citizens” also be included.
The TC also passed an ordinance rescinding the administrative leave of Capt. Joshua Cummis, who recently retired after his involvement with the July 5 incidents.