NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The city's police department was one of 28 agencies to receive a grant designed to improve relations between cops and the community, according to an announcement from the state Office of the Attorney General.
New Brunswick police received $10,000 from the Det. Matthew L. Tarentino Community Policing Grant Program, a new initiative undertaken by the attorney general, according to the news release. The amount marked for New Brunswick and its COPS for Kids program is the maximum available under the grant.
City police planned to use the money to distribute backpacks to children across New Brunswick last night, Aug. 1, during National Night Out, an event that also aims to strengthen bonds between cops and residents, according to the announcement.
New Brunswick police also plan to earmark a portion of the award to fund its annual holiday party, on Dec. 16, where officers intend to hand out toys to kids. Suydam Street Reformed Church and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital partner with the department to host that event.
Just nine of the 28 police departments earned the full $10,000 grant. The rest took home smaller amounts, bringing the total amount awarded to $219,122, according to the attorney general.
Tarentino, for whom the grant program is named, died in a May 30 car crash.
At first, the total award was capped at $121,000—to honor Tarentino's badge number, 121—and would be funded entirely with criminal forfeiture funds, according to the news release.
But the attorney general boosted that figure after the “tremendous response” from nearly 140 police departments.
“The overwhelming response we received from law enforcement for this new program is a tribute to Det. Tarentino and a testament to the strong commitment of New Jersey officers to community policing,” the attorney general, Christopher S. Porrino, said in a statement. “Det. Tarentino had a tremendous passion for public service and embraced the community he served in a remarkable way. The initiatives we are funding will honor his extraordinary spirit and keep that spirit alive across our state.”
Community policing goes against the rough-'em-up style that President Donald Trump recently advocated for—or joked about, depending on whom you believe—before an audience of officers in New York.
Instead, community policing “fosters relationships of collaboration, trust and understanding between law enforcement agencies and their communities,” according to the attorney general.