The Hoboken Police Department hosted their first pop-up policing event at their housing authority’s Harrison Garden Courtyard last week.
“I think community engagement is the fundamental principle in order to gain trust between us and the community: it makes the community feel better, we feel better,” Acting Police Chief Steven Aguiar told HCV at Wednesday evening’s event.
“Once we have trust, we can actually reduce crime. So we need to get out here since we’re coming off of about two years of not being able to engage with the community due to COVID. Having events like this are so important to have the support of the community and they have ours.”
The city’s top cop also credited Police Lt. Melissa Gigante for bringing the event together, which included free Icees, a raffle, music, and an arts and crafts area – among other things.
“Before the pandemic, this was actually in the works, trying to do something, because we realized that in the city there’s a trade between the police department and the community so we’re really trying to build it together,” she said.
Both Aguiar and Gigante committed to making these events a monthly affair, pending budget constraints, as well as to bring the pop-up events to different areas of the city.
Also in attendance was Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who spoke in favor of the endeavor.
“It’s important for the public safety community in Hoboken, as well as the residents, for our public housing to come together to have discussions, to identify what we do right, where we can do better, and to try to make sure that we raise the bar and make the community a safer place.”
The event was scheduled long before Monday evening’s shooting, the second in the area in about five weeks, with an arrest made early Friday morning.
Aguiar also said at the event that patrols had been increased in wake of the shooting and that the safety of residents is always of the utmost importance.
For the program, the Hoboken PD has teamed u with Guazabara Insights Credible Messengers Program and Hopes Cap, Inc. as their community partners.
Others who attended last week included Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-33), County Commissioner Anthony Romano (D-5), a retired police captain and the city’s deputy public safety director, Public Safety Director Kenneth Ferrante, Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero, the chair of the council’s public safety committee, and Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour.