BLOOMFIELD, NJ— Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia announced this week that he has signed a pledge through former President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. In taking this pledge, Mayors and other City Council officials are uniquely positioned to introduce common-sense limits on police use of force.
The Alliance is calling on mayors to commit to the following actions;
1. REVIEW your police use of force policies.
2. ENGAGE your communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in your review.
3. REPORT the findings of your review to your community and seek feedback.
4. REFORM your community’s police use of force policies.
Another initiative that Mayor Venezia is taking seriously is the #8CANTWAIT one. This campaign emerged from the police protests in Ferguson Missouri. They include eight police policies that the group says they have data to show that can decrease police violence by 72% if all followed correctly. These eight policies include banning chokeholds and strangleholds, requiring de-escalation, requiring warning before shooting, exhausting all alternatives before shooting, a duty to intervene, banning shooting at moving vehicles, establish use of force continuum and require all force to be reported. Mayor Venezia proudly announced that the Bloomfield Police Department has 7 of these policies already in place. The lone exception is requiring a warning before shooting. “We are proud that we have so many of these policies already in place, but we also realize we have work to do and will continue to change and be a leading dept throughout the country,” said Venezia.
Since taking over the Bloomfield Police Department in 2014, Public Safety Director Samuel DeMaio has leveraged his 30 plus years of police experience to revisit and improve many of the department’s policies and procedures. Prior to taking over the reigns of The BPD, DeMaio was the Police Director of the Newark Police Department. TAPinto Bloomfield reached out to the Public Safety Director about the Mayor’s pledge. “I am always eager to implement new strategies that not only promote positive police/community relations but move to improve citizen and officer safety. I applaud Mayor Venezia for bringing this strategy to the table.“
Councilwoman Sarah Cruz, representing Bloomfield's Third Ward, has recognized the changes that have already taken place over the past few years in Bloomfield. "I have watched our Safety Director Sam DeMaio implement policies and procedures like those in the “#8cantwait” initiative since he began with BPD. If a person feels they were treated unjustly, we have a complaint review board. I see Bloomfield bring together police and the community all of the time. Our Mayor and council put in great effort to ensure that programs exists that allow for citizens and police to meet and know one another. We can always do more. Barack Obama’s “My Brothers Keeper” initiative is a resource that Bloomfield can use to strengthen existing programs and expand on them. There is always opportunity for listening, learning and improving. These things make me feel proud to live in and represent a community that sets the bar high for great policing."