The Maplewood Township Committee appointed the inaugural voting members of the Community Board on Police at its meeting last night, capping a process to reinvent community/police relations that began more than one year ago.
The Community Board was created in response to the events of July 5, 2016, in which audio revealed police leadership directing officers to herd local teens out of town and video showing an officer kicking a prostrate, handcuffed Maplewood teen in the head.
The release of the police reports, audio and video — which happened nearly one year after they were requested through Open Public Records Act filings and after internal reviews by Maplewood Police and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office — generated the demand from residents for greater accountability and transparency from the Maplewood Police Department. An advisory committee of representatives from the Community Coalition of Race, SOMA Action and SOMA Justice worked with the Township’s Public Safety Committee to determine the role of the Board and draft a governing ordinance approved earlier this year.
“Creating this Board was truly a team effort between local government and community leaders,” Township Committeeman and Public Safety Committee Chair Greg Lembrich said this past summer. “Taking this Board from the idea stage to creation took a lot of work, and it would not have been possible without the passion and commitment of Erin Scherzer, Kasia Piekarz, Khadijah Costley White, Kelly Quirk-Ceperley, Andrew Young, and Nina Essel.”
The Township solicited applications from Maplewood residents this summer and announced the selections last night.
The Board consists of six voting members and five non-voting members. Three voting members were chosen from nominees submitted by each of the charter organizations (one each); the other three voting members were chosen from the community. Still to be announced: a non-voting youth member (between the ages of 16 to 21 at the time of appointment). The other non-voting members of the Board will be 2 members of the Township Committee, the Township Administrator and/or her designee, and a designee from the Police Department.
Maplewood Community Board on Police Inaugural voting members:
1. Erin Scherzer, representing the Community Coalition on Race, Term ending 12/31/2019
2. Michael Paris, representing SOMA Action, Term ending 12/31/2020
3. Kasia Piekarz, representing SOMA Justice, Term ending 12/31/2021
4. Ian Grodman, Term ending 12/31/2019
5. Susan Berkley, Term ending 12/31/2020
6. Julie Fry, Term ending 12/31/2021
Township Committee Liaisons for 2018/2019
1. Dean Dafis
2. Greg Lembrich