WEST ORANGE, NJ — In response to the “deep-rooted outrage” sparked across the country by the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, West Orange Township officials joined “the countless voices across the country offering support to the family of George Floyd for their profound loss” by releasing a formal statement to the community on Saturday.

The following is a joint statement from West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi, Council President Michelle Casalino, Councilman Jerry Guarino, Councilman Joe Krakoviak, Councilwoman Cindy Matute-Brown, Councilwoman Susan McCartney, Police Chief James Abbott and the West Orange Human Relations Commission:

“The videos which have emerged depict a gross negligence of lawful authority and need to be denounced by all police agencies in the strongest of terms. The incident has understandably unleashed an aftermath of escalating tensions nationwide but due process must not be replaced by the consequences of inflammatory rhetoric.

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“West Orange is a community with cultural roots spread across the spectrum of ethnic and racial backgrounds. Our town has a proud history of respect and acceptance for all people. This is best exemplified in the reputation of our police department for upholding and enforcing the law with a professionally trained police force.

“Town residents should be assured that the men and woman of the West Orange Police Department (WOPD) are committed to the highest standards of law enforcement. The WOPD is the only nationally accredited law enforcement entity in all of Essex County and one of about only 12 in the entire state.

“All WOPD personnel attend semi-annual training regarding our use of force policy. It specifically focuses on circumstances when there is a necessity to intervene in excessive use of force situations. Failure to adhere to our established polices by officers may subject them to departmental charges and criminal charges if warranted. In-custody deaths within our jurisdiction always would be investigated by the New Jersey State Attorney General...

“As a caring community with a committed police agency in a lawful nation, we must continually all work together in the shared hope that our combined efforts achieve our common goals of justice and equality for all.”