Residents of Jersey City’s Ward F packed the Mary McLeod Bethune Center to push for community policing and recruitment at public safety meeting.
Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro explained that the application and recruitment process for police officers started on July 1, 2016 and will continue until the end of August.
During this time, the city is doing “a recruitment push to reach out to diverse communities to urge them to consider a law enforcement career to be part of the solution.”
Jersey City Freeholder Bill O’Dea (D-2) told Lavarro that in order to improve recruitment numbers, there should be training available to prepare for the law enforcement test for those who are interested in pursuing it as a career.
“I think, city council president, maybe it shouldn’t be the government that does it but maybe through the urban league or some other nonprofit in the city,” O’Dea rationalized.
“We should provide some funding to allow them to take those individuals from the community that are interested in taking the test and helping them get ready and helping them prepare.”
Additionally, Jersey City Police South District Captain Timothy Lockwood explained that since he became a commander in the south district about two years ago, he had a “forty percent increase in man power.”
The problem still lies in the number of years of experience that is currently on foot patrol on Ward F, he added.
Lockwood explained that many police officers are being replaced because they are retiring and that is causing a shortage.
Jersey City NAACP President William Braker pushed that recruitment should concentrate on community policing, especially for Ward F.
“The best definition of community policing that I ever heard was an effort on the behalf of the police department to show that they are a part of the community as a opposed [to] as a part from it.”
“The Jersey City Police Department has less than 10 percent of black officers, yet the African American community in Jersey City represents 26 percent. I don’t know what is up with your recruitment but the result speaks for themselves,” Braker told Lavarro.
State Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31) also commented that she witnesses the lack of community policing, especially around her own community center office near the intersection of Grand Street and Martin Luther King Drive.
“I have seen our police officers walk by without even acknowledging, recognizing kids that are walking in the street because there is a daycare center a few doors down. That isn’t recognized because there isn’t that kind of respect.”
When Jersey City Resident Michael Griffith asked Braker if the Jersey City NAACP can assist with the recruitment of African American police officers, Braker explained that he would love to help but “the problem is the people.”
Apparently Braker has trouble finding volunteers who are willing to help in law enforcement recruitment.
Also in attendance was Darren Rivers from the Chief Department Jersey City Fire, Keith Smith Hudson County Prosecutors Office – Homicide, Mike Kelly Jersey City Police West District Captain and Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.