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NJ Honors Fallen Somerville Police Officer with $219,000 in Grants

Lifelong Somerville resident Detective Mathew Tarentino of the Summit Police Department was killed in a traffic accident on Route 78 in May. Credits: Courtesy Summit Police

TRENTON, NJ – State Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino has awarded $219,000 in grants to 28 police departments across New Jersey from the “Detective Matthew L. Tarentino Community Policing Grant Program.”

The new program provides grants to police departments for initiatives aimed at fostering strong police-community relations. The program is named in honor of Tarentino, a Summit police officer and lifelong Somerville resident who epitomized the goals of community policing.

In June, Attorney General 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 Tarentino, who tragically lost his life in a motor vehicle accident on May 30 on Route 78. Tarentino was 29.

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Tarentino was instrumental in Summit’s very successful community policing efforts. Summit received a $10,000 grant.

The first round of grants, funded with criminal forfeiture funds, was set at $121,000, to commemorate 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 Tarentino will be offered later this year, for which departments not funded in this round may re-apply. The 28 community policing 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,” Porrino said. “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.

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