TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced a new initiative – the 21-County, 21st Century Community Policing Project, or the “21/21 Project” – which will promote stronger police-community relations by bringing law enforcement and community stakeholders together in every county, at a minimum four times each year, for town hall meetings, roundtable discussions and other outreach events addressing vital issues of mutual concern. In addition, the Attorney General today unveiled a new website – nj.gov/oag/2121 – as a clearinghouse for information about the initiative.
All told, the initiative will result in more than 80 events across the state in the next 12 months to strengthen the bonds between law enforcement and the broader community.
“Every day, law enforcement officers across New Jersey work closely with the members of the public to keep our streets safe,” said Attorney General Grewal. “But that does not mean we cannot do better, and strengthening police-community relations in New Jersey is one of my top priorities. Despite the best efforts of many people, we know that divides exist in some instances between law enforcement and the communities they serve. In certain cases, these divides have been created by misunderstandings rooted in past events, and in other cases, they are based on misperceptions about law enforcement. The goal of our ‘21/21 Project’ is to bridge those divides by bringing law enforcement together with community leaders and stakeholders, encouraging dialogue on critical issues, and building relationships of trust that will continue after these meetings are adjourned.”
Under the new initiative, each county prosecutor will be responsible for organizing and hosting a public meeting with community leaders once a quarter. When hosting the public meetings, the county prosecutors can use whatever format they deem most appropriate, be it a roundtable discussion, a town hall, or a presentation. Before each meeting, the Attorney General’s Office will provide the prosecutors with content and other material relevant to that quarter’s topic. Where necessary, two or more county prosecutors can host joint events, provided that they each host at least one event at a location in their own county.
Although the meetings will be open to the public, the county prosecutors will be asked to extend invitations to a broad range of stakeholders and local community leaders, including representatives from:
- Local law enforcement
- Religious groups
- Civil rights organizations
- High schools, colleges, and universities
- Municipal Alliance Committees
“Many law enforcement agencies across New Jersey already have embraced community policing, finding innovative ways to bring police and residents together to promote mutual trust and respect,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “But we’re upping the ante with this project, which mandates a total of 84 events over the course of a year involving every county and addressing vital topics such as investigating officer-involved shootings, on which trust can be fostered through a better understanding of our robust protocols, and the opioid epidemic, which can be tackled more effectively if police and community members unite in seeking solutions.”
Each quarter, the meetings will focus on specific issues relevant to both law enforcement and the broader community:
- Spring 2018 (March-May) – Investigations of Officer-Involved Shootings
- Summer 2018 (June-August) – Opioids
- Fall 2018 (September-November) – Immigration Enforcement
- Winter 2018-19 (December-February) – Bias Crimes
Attorney General Grewal will be attending at least one meeting in each of the 21 counties, averaging five to six meetings per quarter, and will invite elected and community leaders to join him.
A county-by-county schedule of events planned for Spring 2018 is posted on the 21/21 Community Policing Project webpage: www.nj.gov/oag/2121.
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