A study reviewing the incidents of July 5, 2016 involving Maplewood Police and community youth reports that there was opportunity throughout the course of the evening for police to disperse the crowd and de-escalate the situation.
The study recommends procedural justice and de-escalation training and the codification of crowd control and incident management protocols.
It also reports, “It does not appear that a robust community-policing program … has been an organizational priority for the department.”
Instead of crowd dispersal on July 5, 2016, police herded the crowd toward the Irvington border. Near the border, a fight broke out on Elmwood Avenue resulting in the arrest of one Maplewood and three South Orange teens. Video of the incident shows Maplewood officers kicking and punching one handcuffed teen on the ground.
According to the Hillard Heintze report released today by Maplewood Township and forwarded to the media by Mayor Vic DeLuca, many Maplewood Police Department members interviewed for the report “voiced heartfelt concern about the way the crowd control situation was handled.”
The report said that the chief “took command of the incident” and “aside from one captain in the vehicle with him, did not appear to seek advice of other command officers.” The study recommends new procedures and training for officers to speak up in such situations. The report states that officers “took direction from the chief without questioning his reasons … even though several … stated they believed the tactic eventually became inappropriate and ineffective.”
According to Mayor DeLuca, the “Next step is to sit down with Acting Police Chief DeVaul to develop a strategy to begin implementing the recommendations.”
Read the report here: