The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office hosted the first implementation of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s 21-County, 21st Century Community Policing Project on Tuesday with a presentation on police use of force and officer-involved shootings at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy in Morristown.
Dubbed the “21/21 Project” for short, the program’s first event began with introductory remarks from Morris County Prosecutor Frederic M. Knapp and First Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Davenport.
“As president of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey, I stand with Attorney General Grewal supporting this essential county outreach initiative,” Knapp said. “We look forward to continuing to cultivate strong relationships between community leaders throughout the county and the local law enforcement agencies.”
The event featured a review of Grewal’s Police Use of Force and Officer Involved Shootings directive by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Matthew J. Troiano and Deputy Chief of Investigations Stephen F. Wilson Jr.
A demonstration of the VirTa Simulator Firearms Training System by Director of the Morris County Department of Law & Public Safety Scott Di Giralomo with assistance from Troiano and Wilson followed.
The VirTa system enables law enforcement officers to train for the most difficult, real-world situations that could result in the use of deadly force, according to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
The 21/21 Project aims to foster better relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect across the state of New Jersey, the office said. These community stakeholders include local law enforcement, religious groups, civil rights organizations, high school superintendents and college and university security personnel.
All 21 county prosecutor’s offices throughout the state will alternate once per quarter to host their own community events—a total of more than 80 over the next year—designed to ensure that leaders in each New Jersey community are granted opportunities to meet with local law enforcement agencies, county officials said.
Grewal said the following about the focus of the first-quarter presentations in Morris County:
“Everyday, law enforcement officers across New Jersey work closely with the members of the public to keep our streets safe. But that does not mean we cannot do better, and strengthening police-community relations in New Jersey is one of my top priorities. Despite the best efforts of many people, we know that divides exist in some instances between law enforcement and the communities they serve. In certain cases, these divides have been created by misunderstandings rooted in past events, and in other cases, they are based on misperceptions about law enforcement. The goal of our ‘21/21 Project’ is to bridge those divides by bringing law enforcement together with community leaders and stakeholders, encouraging dialogue on critical issues, and building relationships of trust that will continue after these meetings are adjourned.”
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