Law & Justice

Montclair Residents Discuss Policing Practices with Law Enforcement Leaders

11c12c30294320372585_DSC_0002.JPG
0f4d7ac7fcce39a64ee9_DSC_0001.JPG
30775f9f322d3de658cd_DSC_0003.JPG
6e71db987cfbadaad6cc_DSC_0005.JPG
55e26f1c8fd8f4521fbf_DSC_0008.JPG
432debf294c6fb04bd5d_DSC_0009.JPG
f6cd8bca95734ac83e05_DSC_0013.JPG
ef7354bb8e0a8dbcfa68_DSC_0014.JPG
effd62e1c8058ac7fc32_DSC_0015.JPG
b49390d61e41b91710ae_DSC_0023.JPG
669296e6f1e9ed5a4e6d_DSC_0024.JPG
8fc292cdcfe3be20bc02_DSC_0025.JPG
9e9b809adf4059afc403_DSC_0026.JPG
9acc81dd42df6ba5ee31_DSC_0032.JPG
e42ad991d97e419c1462_DSC_0036.JPG
ff80a6931a500865df25_DSC_0050.JPG
b4d9d112b4793d522200_DSC_0055.JPG
b7a54c0906e8c40f7ced_DSC_0056.JPG
11c12c30294320372585_DSC_0002.JPG

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair residents packed into the Salvation Army Citadel to discuss policing practices with law enforcement officials.

The lengthy discussion spanned over two hours, beyond the allotted time frame, and allowed residents to voice their concerns with policing practices in Montclair while Montclair police leaders were on hand to respond to concerns and also offer insight from a police perspective.

Mayor Robert Jackson was among the leaders present who addressed the crowd. He spoke of Montclair police officials participating in meetings held across the state to discuss the recent national tensions between law enforcement and African-Americans regarding policing practices saying that Montclair has repeatedly been at the forefront and sometimes is the most represented town during those discussions. Jackson said, "I do think that we have an unusual fervor...to try to do things the right way." 

Sign Up for E-News

The law enforcement panelists included Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray, Deputy Chiefs Tracy Frazzano and Wilhelm Young, and Acting Lt. Tyrone Williams. Several other officers were also represented in the audience and provided insight when clarity was needed.

"Our officers aren't perfect and I'm not perfect either, but I can say... and truly believe we have the finest police department in Essex County," he added.

Concerns raised by residents were racial profiling, excessive force and public perception of the way African-American children are being treated by police in the town. One-by-one, residents expressed their frustration throughout the evening, calling for de-escalation training, the return of the Conversations on Race program, Undoing Racism program and additional diversity training for officers.

Montclair police leaders expressed that they have been at the forefront of training officers in areas such as empathy, de-escalation or dealing with people who suffer from mental illness, and state that they will continue the practice.

Councilor Robert Russo raised the concern about the need to protect people who may be demonstrating or gathering in public places. He also spoke of concerns with racial profiling and excessive force being used. "We have too many young black men being killed by police."

Russo then referenced the concern for the safety of police officers. "Now we're faced with shooters, as we saw in the last two weeks, killing police officers." Referencing tragedies happening in France and other places around the world, as well as what is happening in America, Russo added, "I cannot believe what we're seeing."

"How do we protect our citizens when gathering in public places?" He said.

Conforti stated that information sharing is key to catching a plot to do harm before a horrific incident occurs. "We receive a lot of information from the prosecutor's office, Attorney General's Office..." and other sources to inform them of any leads on potential situations. "From our standpoint in Montclair, training is very important." He spoke of active shooter training for officers to be prepared for a crisis situation.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Dr. Renee Baskerville voiced concerns "As we take a look at the people we have representing..." We have had to fight relentlessly for years to have the diversity that we have." As she spoke of the first female Deputy Chief and African-American Deputy Chief, Baskerville cautioned residents to not become complacent. 

She suggested a civilian police review board in Montclair. "We don't want to wait until we need them, we want to have those things in place proactively." Baskerville then called for community stakeholder input into the interviewing of potential police officers. 

She stated that the diversity training for officers would be a way to help officers to reflect upon what they can do to heal.

Baskerville also called for gun reform. "We must get weapons of mass destruction off of our street." She continued, "We must demand annual mental fitness evaluations for all of our officers... and citizens who have a license to carry." Both statements were met with a rousing applause.

The meeting continued with residents, one-by-one standing to express their personal experiences with officers in Montclair, with some pleasant and unpleasant stories shared.

An 81-year old African-American resident stood and informed Officer Ben Campos that he had stopped her when she was clearly in the wrong. He became visibly tensed when she began to tell of the experience, however, he breathed a sigh of relief when she said, "You were so pleasant." Campos and the audience burst into laughter at his relief. She went on to explain that she had run a red light and was stopped. She explained to Campos that she realized her error and then Campos forgivingly escorted her to her destination without issuing a ticket for the violation. 

Many in the audience expressed that this was a perfect example of community policing that should continue in Montclair and around the country, where people are seen as human beings and treated fairly by law enforcement.

When Jackson addressed the crowd earlier in the program, he spoke of the community meetings held by the council people around town as an opportunity for people to come together regularly and voice their concerns at the onset. He also highlighted the diversity of the audience in race, age and socioeconomic factors and stated that he was pleased that so many people thought it was an important topic to come together to discuss.

"Look at this audience, you don't get this everywhere," Jackson beamed. "I think we're trying to do the right thing. I think we'll get there."

 

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Montclair

NBA Star Dennis Rodman Enjoys Life in Livingston

February 22, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Former National Basketball Association (NBA) star Dennis Rodman’s friends say he is “living like a Livingston kid” while he is in town doing an outpatient program for Turning Point Rehab Center.

Livingston native Chris “Vo” Volo, an agent for Prince Marketing Group, has been representing Rodman for seven years and the two quickly became ...

"Look at These N*&%#" Shouts Shuts Down Black Panther Showing in Sparta

February 22, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night because of a woman shouting slurs in a screening of Black Panther.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including “look at these ‘n-word’” and “can you believe these ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, February 22

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Thu, February 22, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library, Montclair

Alice Hooe Foster: Shaping Montclair

Other

Thu, February 22, 7:00 PM

Hosted by Bible Baptist Church, Hasbrouck Heights

Mothers of Preschoolers {MOPS} Event

Education

Montclair Police Blotter: Theft of Delivered Packages, Arrests and More

February 21, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ-  The following police blotter was issued by the Montclair Police Department on February 20, 2018:

Arrest:

 

02-13-2018 - A 16yoa East Orange male was arrested and charged with Unlawful Taking by Means of Conveyance, resulting from an investigation into a vehicle theft which occurred on 1/25/2018.

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

MPL Presents: “Closing The Gender Gap” w/ Joanne Lipman in Conversation with Edward Felsenthal

February 21, 2018

Montclair, NJ - On Sunday, February 25th, 2018, Joanne Lipman, former Chief Con- tent Officer of Gannett, and Editor-in-Chief of USA TODAY and the USA TODAY NETWORK, will dis- cuss her new book That’s What She Said: What Men Need To Know (and Women Need To Tell Them) About Working Together with TIME Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Edward Felsenthal.

The national dialogue ...