WOODLAND PARK, NJ - The Woodland Park Police Department was one of 28 that was awarded grant funds from the “Detective Matthew L. Tarentino Community Policing Grant Program,” Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

A total of $219,000 in grant awards were announced for 28 police departments across New Jersey from the program, which provides funds for initiatives aimed at fostering strong police-community relations. The program is named in honor of Det. Tarentino, a Summit police officer who epitomized the goals of community policing.

The Woodland Park Police were awarded a grant of $7,810 which they plan to use to organize and host a "community jamboree" this fall at Zaccaria Park. The grant provides funding for staffing on site while continuing the department's regular duties, an estimated five hour picnic, DJ, food, and organized games and activities for children and teens.

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The event is aimed at fostering community relations and will provide a chance for residents of all ages to get to know their local law enforcement officers in a casual and fun setting.

In June, Porrino announced the new program offering competitive grants of up to $10,000 per department for police to fund innovative community policing initiatives in honor of Det. Tarentino, who tragically lost his life in a motor vehicle accident on May 30. The first round of grants, funded with criminal forfeiture funds, was set at $121,000, to commemorate Det. Tarentino’s badge #121. However, the attorney general increased the funding by nearly $100,000, to $219,122, after receiving a tremendous response, with applications from 138 police departments. 

Porrino also announced that a second round of grant funding to honor Det. Tarentino will be offered later this year, for which departments not funded in this round may re-apply.  The 28 proposals approved for grants in this round include police departments in all 20 New Jersey counties from which applications were received.

“The overwhelming response we received from law enforcement for this new program is a tribute to Detective Tarentino and a testament to the strong commitment of New Jersey officers to community policing,” said Porrino.  “Detective 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.”   

“Every year we invite police departments to apply for a range of grant programs, but I can’t recall ever being inundated with applications like we were for this program honoring Detective Tarentino,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Officers in New Jersey clearly understand that everybody wins when they engage in a personal way with residents and gain their confidence and trust.”

Community policing fosters relationships of collaboration, trust, and understanding between law enforcement agencies and their communities. Law enforcement agencies acting alone can rarely solve the difficult public safety problems facing communities in today’s world. Only with meaningful public support and engagement can law enforcement agencies begin to confront these complex issues and effectively protect and serve the public.  

Funding under the grant program is allocated to help pay for non-enforcement related community engagement activities and programs. 

In honoring Det. Tarentino, Porrino also thanked the members of the Summit Police Department and Chief Robert K. Weck for their strength and leadership in facing a very difficult time, and for their exemplary community policing initiatives, which were recognized in May at the Attorney General’s Outstanding Community Policing Awards