JERSEY CITY, NJ - Always in search of a middle ground Mayor Steven Fulop has said his continued intention is to restructure the Jersey City Police Department for greater performance, not defund it. 

“In Jersey City it’s been about concrete steps,” Fulop said in a tweet. “We looked for ways that we can structurally improve our police dept with meaningful changes. We’ve taken the national conversation extremely seriously around policing and implemented reforms at the local level that will better Jersey City long term.”

But defunding police is not an option for Jersey City, he said.

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“The reality is that the progress we’ve made over the last seven years is fragile,” Fulop said. “Think about it: we’ve worked to enact meaningful reform and to make Jersey City safer after prior decades of mismanagement. Stripping our police department of resources now would reverse that progress and make our neighborhoods less safe.”

But he said reform is needed and that Jersey City has already done much to achieve that reform. This includes reforming the use of force guidelines, working with residents and community groups to identify areas of improvement in the JCPD, establishing de-escalation training; the development of a new Quality of Life Division within Public Safety and changes in police deployment – such as the elimination of one-officer cars. The city has also expanded its police video and is considering the  implementation of a civilian community review board.

Chris Gadsden of the Jersey City NAACP, however, said the administration needs to engage the community on police reform, noting that Fulop hasn’t met with the community to discuss these changes.

“It’s one thing to talk to media, the rest of the state of New Jersey, New York media, it’s another to sit with activists, advocates and the larger community of Jersey City to discuss these reforms,” Gadsden said. “You are a skillful politician, who does not engage with community where these `reforms’ affect the lives of people who suffered from extreme police use of force and abuse of authority.”

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