JERSEY CITY, NJ - For most of us hostage negotiation is a work of Hollywood fiction, for former NYPD Lt. Jack Cambria, it is a very real skill, one that he used more than 100 times to save lives during his career as a law enforcement officer.

Known as “Gentleman Jack,” Cambria, under a $24,000 approved by the City Council, will now be bringing the skills he honed and put into action over 34 years to Jersey City to provide de-escalation training to members of the Jersey City Police Department.

The city, in part of a dual-pronged approach to give officers tools they can use to better manage increasingly tense, and dangerous situations, engaged Cambria in reaction to increasing pressure by groups such as Black Lives Matter to “defund” the police by teaching officers to slow down, create space, and use communication techniques to defuse potentially dangerous situations. 

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It gives officers strategies to more calmly deal with people who are experiencing mental and emotional crises.

In the mid-1980s, Cambria became part of a new concept called “Community Policing” in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park district as a foot patrolman – a throw back to the early New York policing, but with a community twist. Although his job then included dealing with drunks and taking crime reports, he was also part of a movement as a community organizer which was designed to teach people how to avoid and prevent crime.

Most importantly, he said later, 90 percent of his job was to listen to people. In one account, Cambria described himself as “the ultimate social worker.”

The training, Mayor Steven Fulop said, is part of a larger investment will that repurpose funds recently refunded to the city for COVID-19 testing to expand tactical awareness and communications training currently implemented in the JCPD’s Emergency Service and Counterterrorism Units. It will be, he added, mandatory for all uniform members of the department to ensure maximum safety for officers and those they encounter in various demanding situations. The de-escalation training will also be made available to residents and all others interested in observing the techniques being taught.

Cambria’s teachings, city officials have said, will be followed up with sessions delivered by Tomahawk Strategic Solutions utilizing interactive training to focus on strategies and approaches for police officers addressing hostile situations.

Editor's Note: The publisher of TAPinto Jersey City also serves as a communications consultant for the JCPOBA

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