Police & Fire

New Jersey AG Porrino Establishes Community Policing Grant in Name of Summit Detective Matthew Tarentino

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A familiar sight - Officer Tarentino engaging children in the schools and in the community at large. Credits: facebook.com/summitpd/photos
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TRENTON, NJ  – New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino has established the “Detective Matthew L. Tarentino Community Policing Grant Program,” which will provide grants to police departments for innovative programs aimed at fostering strong police-community relations. The program is named in honor of Detective Tarentino, a Summit police officer who epitomized the goals of community policing.

To commemorate Detective Tarentino’s badge #121, the Attorney General is making $121,000 in state forfeiture funds available. Attorney General Porrino urged police departments to apply for individual awards of up to $10,000 and honor the fallen officer through their community policing efforts.

Detective Tarentino demonstrated a deep commitment to community outreach, particularly the D.A.R.E. program, helping the Summit Police Department to become a 2017 recipient of the Attorney General’s Outstanding Community Policing Award last month. Tarentino was promoted to Detective posthumously after he tragically lost his life in a motor vehicle accident on May 30. 

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“Detective Tarentino was respected and beloved in his community because he embodied all of the best qualities of a police officer and role model: selflessness, compassion for others, and an unshakeable dedication and enthusiasm for his calling,” said Porrino. “I had the privilege of meeting Matthew and hearing him speak last month when we honored him and recognized his department for their outstanding community policing efforts. Because he was a visionary in this area, it is only fitting that we hold Matthew up as a model of community policing and public service.”

“We urge police departments across New Jersey to seek this funding and bring us their innovative ideas for community policing,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “In the end, the hallmark of a strong police force is mutual respect and trust between its officers and those they serve.” 

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. 

To aid police departments that wish to enhance and improve relationships with their communities, the Attorney General’s Office is offering this grant program to fund multiple community policing projects across the state that will promote positive interactions between police and community members. 

The Attorney General’s Office will provide approved applicant police departments with up to $10,000 in state criminal forfeiture funds to support development and deployment of community policing programs, activities and events. The Attorney General’s Office is responsible for program administration and will provide technical assistance to applicants during application development and program implementation. 

Eligible applicants include state, county and municipal police departments in New Jersey, sheriff’s offices, and college campus police departments. Applicants may propose to enhance or expand an already existing activity or program, or develop a new initiative. 

Application forms are posted on the Attorney General’s website -- located at njpublicsafety.com -- as well as at nj.gov/oag/grants.htm.

The deadline for applications is July 10, 2017. All awards must be spent during the five-month period from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31, 2017. 

Funding under this Community Policing Grant will be used to help pay for non-enforcement related community engagement activities and programs, such as, but not limited to:

  • Community picnics, barbecues, or concerts; 
  • Educational public meetings, forums, or workshops; 
  • Faith-based partnership events; 
  • Cultural or leadership programs; 
  • Athletic leagues or tournaments; 
  • Youth engagement and empowerment activities; 
  • Individual officer/youth partnerships; 
  • Walks, 5Ks, bicycle races; or
  • Food drives.

Some recent innovative approaches to community policing by local New Jersey law enforcement agencies include police officers reading with kindergarten students, engaging with families to steer kids away from gang recruitment, and spending full days with youth to experience field trips, cultural programs and community events together. Another approach features an agency’s “ride along program” for clergy patrol members who join police officers in newly painted police cruisers to visit local business owners and residents at their homes, schools and hospitals. Additional community outreach programs include movie nights with police, pop-up barbecues, ice cream with a cop, pizza with a cop, coffee with a cop, shop with a cop, basketball with teens, and a swim meet for charity. 

In honoring Detective Tarentino, Attorney General Porrino also thanked the members of the Summit Police Department and Chief Robert K. Weck for their strength and leadership during this very difficult time, and for their exemplary community policing initiatives, which were recognized last month at the Attorney General’s Outstanding Community Policing Awards Ceremony. Detective Tarentino was instrumental in Summit’s very successful community policing efforts.

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