MORRIS COUNTY, NJ - On the afternoon of Tuesday, April 17, 2018, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office hosted the first of their four “21-County, 21st Century Community Policing Project” programs. The “21/21 Community Policing Project” was implemented by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and aims to cultivate relationships between local law enforcement and community leaders, by holding such events once every quarter. The subject of the initial program was “Police Use of Force and Officer Involved Shootings”. This event was held at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy in Parsippany.
Prosecutor Fredric Knapp opened the afternoon by welcoming everyone in attendance, including, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice Veronica Allende, New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, New Jersey Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, Morris County Freeholder Director Douglas Cabana, Morris County Freeholder Heather Darling, members of law enforcement, community groups, and local clergy. Prosecutor Knapp then introduced First Assistant Attorney General of New Jersey Jennifer Davenport.
Ms. Davenport thanked the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office for hosting this program, then discussed the goals of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office concerning community outreach. Attorney General Grewal has acknowledged that strengthening the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve is one of his top priorities. Encouraging dialogue between officers and community stakeholders creates relationships that can be productive. First Assistant Attorney General Davenport also outlined the other programs over the next three quarters which shall address, the Opioid Epidemic, Immigration, and Bias Crimes.
Following First Assistant Attorney General Davenport, Prosecutor Knapp explained the process under which Officer Involved Shooting incidents have been handled in the past. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Matt Troiano then reviewed the Attorney General’s Police Use of Force and Officer Involved Shootings directive. The approximately forty five minute presentation on the directive, broke down the directive and ultimately explained to the community leaders in attendance as to how the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office as well as the other twenty county prosecutor offices throughout New Jersey are required to handle these incidents.
Next, Morris County Department of Law & Public Safety Director Scott Di Giralomo discussed the importance of proper training in law enforcement, then allowed the audience members to witness a demonstration of the VirTra Simulator Firearms Training System. This is a state of the art simulator in which members of law enforcement are put through realistic scenarios and forced to react in real time. Morris County is one of the few counties in New Jersey to have this program, and every law enforcement recruit that goes through Police Basic Training gets to experience the simulator. Two civilian audience members participated in various scenarios simulating Officer Involved Shootings.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office’s first implementation of the “21/21 Community Policing Project” was a great success, in which approximately 75 attendees including community leaders, clergy, and stakeholders could meet with members of local law enforcement in a setting that fostered positive discussion.
Prosecutor Knapp said, “I am extremely pleased with the success of this initial program. Under Attorney General Grewal’s leadership we will continue our series of community outreach programs.”