HAWTHORNE, NJ - At Sunday's Black Lives Matter rally, organizers and speakers called for changes in policing methods, among other topics, to combat racial incidents and mistreatment or abuse. Towards the end of the rally, Craig Cayetano read a "Call to Action" outlining recommendations for policing policies to be adopted by the borough of Hawthorne and the Hawthorne Police Department. One of the points was the matter of body cameras, which are worn by a police officer to provide an audio-visual record.
TAPinto Hawthorne spoke with Police Chief Richard McAuliffe for his thoughts following the demonstration. "I think there are issues," McAuliffe said, "not so much in New Jersey but throughout the country. Every state has different policies on use of force. New Jersey does have some of the strictest laws on the use of force, we have race and bias policies. We adhere to the policies. I think they have a right to be heard. There are problems."
Regarding body cameras, McAuliffe said that there had been a program that was delayed, but they were in the process of working through it for implementation. "We had a [body camera] program in 2016," McAuliffe said, "we took four or five cameras to find the camera we wanted. We had our pilot program spread out over a couple months. We went to a vendor, the vendor went belly-up. So, the company that bought them out is coming to replace them and our equipment that doesn't work with brand-new stuff at no cost to us. That was the issue."
McAuliffe said that bodycams were their choice following a mandate for police cameras. "When the mandate came out, we went right to body cameras. We got some grant money for it, we started it, bought it, then it fell through, and we've contacted [the new company].... "The policy is out there, the policy is written, it's just a matter of the mechanics of the other ones. We couldn't get a hold of anybody to get them up and running and if you don't have the whole system, it doesn't work. We're continuing to work on progress with body cameras."
At the end of the rally Mayor Goldberg said to TAPinto Hawthorne, "I think we got to see what the constitution intended, peaceful protest. I was pleased to see how well-mannered the crowd was and how understanding. They have their grievances, they have discussed their grievances. I hope we are all better for it and happy to come here to march."
The "Systemic Policing Changes Call to Action" was shared with TAPinto Hawthorne and is a transcript of what was read aloud at the rally.
Call to Action: Hawthorne’s Time to Embrace Systemic Policing Changes
1. THAT THE TOWN COUNCIL, MAYOR, & CHIEF OF POLICE SIGN A COMMITMENT TO ACTIVELY COMBAT RACIAL INJUSTICE WHILE CARRYING OUT THEIR DUTIES OF OFFICE.
2. THAT THE TOWN AND THE CHIEF OF POLICE ENSURE SOMEONE WITH A HEART CONDITION DOES NOT HAVE A STUN BELT OR TASER USED AGAINST THEM.
3. THAT THE TOWN COUNCIL PASS A LOCAL ORDINANCE REQUIRING A LIVE BODY CAM ON ALL ACTIVE DUTY HAWTHORNE POLICE OFFICERS ON PATROL.
4. THAT THE TOWN COUNCIL AND POLICE DO NOT SUPPORT ANY MEMORANDUM OR ORDINANCE TO ENTER AN AGREEMENT WITH RING, A DOORBELL SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM OWNED BY AMAZON.
5. THAT THE TOWN COUNCIL PASS A LOCAL ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING AN INDEPENDENT CIVILIAN REVIEW BOARD CONSISTING OF COMMUNITY MEMBERS THAT HAS THE FOLLOWING POWERS:
a. Make recommendations and suggestions about police protocol to the town council and police department.
b. Review and make suggestions to alter the existing use-of-force continuum.
c. Receive and investigate complaints of excessive force, abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and racial profiling.
d. To have discretion over the publication of body cam video in the aftermath of a heinous case of police injustice if it occurs in Hawthorne.
e. Issue subpoenas and have power to investigate complaints about community police behavior
f. Participate in police union contract renegotiation.
g. At least one member of the board must be a representative that is under 21 preferably someone 18 years old.
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