From South Orange Police Chief Ernesto Morillo, January 27, 2023:
To Our South Orange Community:
Integrity. Professionalism. Compassion.
I spoke these three words when I was honored with the responsibility of leading a group of forty-five officers in the service of this community. I have strived every day to instill these foundational values within the people that serve. I have done so because when we align our values with our actions we do the right things, for the right reasons.
What the world saw when the recordings of the assault of Tyre Nichols was released showed, in the words of Memphis Police Chief Davis, “acts that defy humanity.” This and many more emotional words will be said about what was done to Mr. Nichols. Words that will devastate our hearts and bring about disappointment in those charged to protect us. We will grieve with Tyre’s family and the Memphis community and we will strengthen our commitment to the highest ideals of public service.
I pledge to you that under my leadership the South Orange Police Department will continue to build deeper bonds of trust, transparency, accountability and mutual understanding with all of our stakeholders.
We will continue to work on a daily basis with the most dedicated local elected officials in the State, President Sheena Collum and our Board of Trustees; so that we leave no feedback unheard and continuously strive to be a model agency that is steeped in the culture of South Orange and eminently responsive to its needs.
We will continue to partner on a regular basis with our Community-Police Collaborative, who under the leadership of its Chair, Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad, have helped us develop a more thoughtful, nuanced understanding of the community’s perspective on public safety and challenged us to think more deeply about our role in the community.
We will continue to follow the best-in-the-nation guidance and policies put forth by New Jersey’s Office of the Attorney General, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and our own policies. Through our continuous use of body-worn and in-car cameras to record every interaction a South Orange Police Officer has with a member of the public we will ensure transparency and our accountability to the highest standards of professionalism in the delivery of our service.
We will continue to provide an unprecedented degree of education, training and professional development to the officers of the South Orange Police Department. They will know and understand not only our laws, policies, rules, and best practices but also their underlying principles and the critical importance of being police officers that are expected to articulate a reasonable basis for every action and to intervene should they need to prevent another officer’s inappropriate action.
As you view the actions, clearly deemed to be criminal, of the former police officers that harmed Tyre Nichols and feel anger, dismay, sorrow, or even hopelessness, I ask only that you consider what you know of your South Orange Police Department and our daily dedication to this great Village.
Integrity, Professionalism, and Compassion are values that affirm the humanity of those we serve. They are values that affirm our own humanity. Words that form the core of our identity: that we are the same, that the police are the community and the community is the police.
Yours in Service,
Chief E. Morillo
South Orange Police Department
201 South Orange Ave
South Orange, NJ 07079