CHATHAM, NJ - The Borough of Chatham Council and Mayor Thaddeus Kobylarz openly discussed the death of George Floyd and the mayor declared a "Zero Tolerance" policy for the police and borough employees at the regular meeting of the council on Monday evening.
"I will not tolerate any act of prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, injustice or unfairness by any member of our police force," Kobylarz said during the virtual meeting. "Or for that matter, by any borough employee."
The subject of the 2018 "Force Report" published by NJ.com put the spotlight on the practices of the Chatham Borough Police Department. Therefore, at the June 22 meeting, Chatham Borough Police Chief Brian Gibbons will present data he has compiled and answer questions from the public.
In the "Force Report", which analyzed statistics on the "use of force" by police departments throughout New Jersey from 2012 through 2016, Chatham Borough Police used force at "a higher rate" than 345 police forces in the state (see the statistics from the published NJ.com report below).
The Chatham Township Police Department was much more reserved in its "use of force", according to the NJ.com report, with three total "uses of force" over the same period. The Township police used force at a rate "lower than 432 police departments."
Chief Gibbons, who attended a prayer event held by the First Baptist Church of Madison on Saturday, said he was grateful to Rev. Craig Dunn for his prayers and invitation to the event. He assured residents that there are practices in place that prevent the actions that led to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota (see his remarks below). Gibbons also said he was "very disappointed" with the "Force Report", saying the data "misrepresented" the practices of the borough police.
Gibbons revealed that he started his career 21 years ago in the City of Orange, noting that five police officers in the Orange Police Department went to prison for violating citizens' civil rights. He emphasized "building trust by interaction" in his remarks below.
Council member Len Resto followed Mayor Kobylarz's remarks by sharing his own history and experiences with racism and discrimination growing up as a gay person with a Puerto Rican heritage (see video below). He summed up: "If we speak with one another, we will get past this."