MONTCLAIR, NJ - An at-large shooting suspect was apprehended two weeks ago without incident because of his relationship with Montclair Police Sergeant Tyrone Williams, Jr. This relationship, built through Williams' role with the Montclair Community Policing Bureau (CPB), led to the subsequent arrest of the suspect when he turned himself in at Union Baptist Church of Montclair.
Sergeant Williams, self-described as one face of the softer side of policing, told Tap into Montclair that his role and that of the Montclair Community Policing Bureau, “is to bridge the gap between the police department and our community.”
Many of the sworn police officers at the CPB do what patrol officers are often unable to do, which is to stop and chat, build relationships with business owners, address community concerns and establish community ties. They are trained in community policing theories and strategies and patrol on foot or by bicycle and can be identified by their bright blue polo shirts.
Williams said, “We want to address problems collectively. We find viable solutions that work on both ends. Our mission is to break barriers and forge relationships.”
On March 20, Tap into Montclair first reported on a domestic shooting in Montclair. The suspect, Edward Thompson, was at-large, but there was no chaotic chase, because Thompson had a personal connection with Williams. Thompson had met Williams in his neighborhood and established a friendship with him over the last three years.
According to Williams, the suspect knew that Sergeant Williams attended the same church that Thompson’s family attended, and as a result, the suspect himself reached out to Williams and asked to be taken in. This occurred minutes before Sunday morning service began.
In 2008 with the downturn of the economy, reduced budgets and shrinking grants, the community program was eliminated. This entire department was closed down for a few years. However, since September 2013 the unit has reopened and Sergeant Williams, a 15-year veteran of the police department, was commissioned to command the new Community Service Unit (CSU).
Since then they have been fervently reestablishing community ties, by being involved in Read Across America, Coffee with a Cop, National Night Out safety event, talking to seniors about safety, raising awareness about how to protect oneself from theft, creating neighborhood watches, coordinating bicycle safety, avoiding cyber crime, to name a few. You name a safety concern, and this group is likely to have some sort of endeavor to address it.
Williams said they could use volunteers to help coordinate the National Safety Event in August. “It’s the first Tuesday in August. It’s an opportunity to promote safety, bring the community together, strengthen relationships between law enforcement and residents and also to celebrate.”
This unit also extends outreach to Montclair youths providing activities, many of which sponsored by the Montclair Police Athletic League, such as PAL basketball, Junior Police Academy, and more.
For more information on the community service unit, to contribute, or to be involved in volunteer efforts that will increase safety and promote cooperation, please reach out to Sergeant Williams by phone at 973-509-4775 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.