EAST ORANGE, NJ — The first of a two-part public safety forum to recognize members of the East Orange Police Department and other emergency care providers for the good job they are doing was hosted Tuesday, July 19, in Council Chambers by East Orange City Council Chairman Ted Green and 5th Ward Councilwoman Alicia Holman.
“We just held a forum with local, county and state elected officials, police officers, the clergy and some folks from the public in reference to the recent shootings that have happened in Baton Rouge, La.; Dallas, Texas; Minnesota and elsewhere,” said Holman on Tuesday, July 19. “We wanted to come up with a plan as to where do we go from here. As I always say: violence begets violence. The answer is not to go and shoot individuals, police officers who are doing their job in a totally different state that had nothing to do with the incident that it originated from.”
Holman, chairwoman of City Council’s Public Safety Committee and liaison to its various components, called recent retaliations against law enforcement “senseless” and, while East Orange doesn’t have the same tensions between its police and the public, she said forums are necessary to ensure tensions don’t become concerns anytime soon.
“We don’t have that issue here in the city, but we want to be prepared; we want to have a plan of communication with our public,” said Holman. “We do community policing and I stand behind our police department 100 percent; I think they are doing a phenomenal job. Community policing is one thing, but when they’re pulling you over for a stop, whatever it may be, comply so that it does not escalate.”
Holman said the goal of the forums is to educate the public and “bring some awareness to our community as to what your interaction should be when you’re interacting with the police department. You can’t run off of emotions on something that happened someplace else.”
Green agreed and said, as a black man and Muslim, there is definitely a list of do’s and don’ts that safety-conscious people of all races, genders and creeds should know.
“The plan tonight was to come together and have dialogue, so that way we can build communication … between the community and the police department,” said Green, who also serves as the director of the Building Department in nearby Irvington, on Tuesday, July 19. “The dialogue is also to focus on how we can manage violent crime in our community. It was also to ensure good treatment and justice here in the city of East Orange.”
According to East Orange Public Safety Director Sheila Coley and acting police Chief Phyllis Bindi, the forum met the goals Holman and Green set for the two-part series.
“It all comes back to training and tactical training and I think … they have a reason to be proud,” said Coley on Tuesday, July 19. “I personally think the reason we don’t have some of the issues yet that have been demonstrated in some other agencies is because we do represent the community we serve.”
“When we’re talking about cultural awareness, we’re walking in, understanding the cultural awareness that we are a part of,” said Bindi on Tuesday, July 19. “We understand it and we’ll bolster and build upon it. When we say ‘tactical training,’ we mean dealing with interactions with the citizens, including motor vehicle stops; how to speak professionally; how to treat people with dignity and respect; and our approaching the vehicle in a manner where it won’t cause fear or alarm to the driver or yourself or anyone in the vehicle; and even approaching houses in the same way. We want to keep the public with us, because they are our eyes and ears at any given time.”
Although the second installment of the two-part Public Safety Forum series hasn’t been scheduled yet, Holman and Green said they’re hoping it will be sometime after Monday, Aug. 15.