Police officers establish East Orange Bronze Shields to improve police-community relations

Photo Courtesy of Morton Visuals
From left are East Orange Bronze Shields executive board members Detective Keith McCoy, 2nd vice president; Lt. Yasmine Johnson, secretary; Sgt. Keith Alston, president; Lt. Marilyn Berrouet, 1st vice president; Sgt. Kwabena Sharif, trustee; Detective Curtis Manley, trustee; and Detective Anthony Rogers, treasurer. Not pictured is Sgt. Sharieff Greenwood, sergeant at arms.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — A group of East Orange police officers recently formed the inaugural chapter of the East Orange Bronze Shields, a nonprofit organization that supports positive police-community interactions and provides advocacy for minority officers within the department. 

This is the third Bronze Shields chapter in New Jersey. Newark Police Department founded the first chapter in 1957, and the Passaic Chapter was founded in 2009 to include law enforcement agencies across that county. 

According to East Orange Bronze Shields executive board President Sgt. Keith Alston, the East Orange chapter was founded in part as a result of local community feedback and a national trend toward reinvigorating community policing. It also was started with the vision of strengthening unity and camaraderie inside of the police department and serving as a voice for members who need it. 

With the motto “Strength and Togetherness with Integrity for the Community,” the East Orange Bronze Shields will work in tandem with churches, nonprofit organizations, community partners, businesses and local government to bring about impactful change. 

“Personally, this is about leaving a legacy and making a significant difference in the city that raised me. Growing up, I experienced both positive and negative interactions with EOPD and I believe that one of the best ways I can improve police-community interactions is to change the culture from within,” Alston said. “Every member of the executive board is a product of this community and has a 100-percent vested interest in this organization’s success.” 

Additional board members are: Lt. Marilyn Berrouet, 1st vice president; Detective Keith McCoy, 2nd vice president; Lt. Yasmine Johnson, secretary; Detective Anthony Rogers, treasurer; Sgt. Sharieff Greenwood, sergeant at arms; Sgt. Kwabena Sharif, trustee; and Detective Curtis Manley, trustee.

Alston, who has been an officer for 10 years, said the East Orange Bronze Shields is proud to be a direct affiliate of the Newark chapter, whose leadership was instrumental in formalizing the new organization and its structure. 

“The Newark Bronze Shields support the members of the East Orange Bronze Shields wholeheartedly. Our mission is to improve relations within law enforcement and the community, but also to ensure officers are treated fairly, which fosters a better work environment for all,” said Idell Robinson, president of the Newark Bronze Shields and a sergeant in the Newark Police Department, where he has served since 1997. “I don’t believe in the ‘thin blue line.’ The work we do in the police department to establish diversity, representation and advocacy for our officers goes hand-in-hand with what we do in the community.”

Officially established in September 2022, the East Orange Bronze Shields has hit the ground running. So far, it has sponsored two community resource fairs, participated in the city’s Thanksgiving turkey giveaway and holiday toy drive, and hosted its first fundraising event, which was packed with a diverse cross-section of the city’s population. 

“Community policing and outreach are a large part of EOPD’s strategy to build mutual trust and understanding between our residents and police officers. The East Orange Bronze Shields will be a great addition as a community partner whose members have the proven capability to make connections with people of all ages and backgrounds,” Mayor Ted R. Green said. “Through their efforts and volunteerism, these men and women in blue will be able to tap into the pulse of the community and proactively provide solutions to issues specific to the city of East Orange.” 

“As the newly appointed public safety director, I welcome the formation of the East Orange Bronze Shields. I look forward to working with its members to better serve the citizens of East Orange. I believe community policing is the future of law enforcement and there is no better way than to have our officers involved throughout the community by participating and hosting events. We believe that this will encourage positive interactions and dialogue between the police and the community we protect and serve,” said Maurice Boyd, who served as an East Orange police officer for 21 years. 

Unlike many other communities across the United States, East Orange’s police force mirrors the demographics of the community with nearly 90 percent black and brown officers, many of whom hold high-ranking positions. 

Through their efforts, Alston said he and his fellow members “will demonstrate that the local police department not only resembles the people it serves, but cares about them as well.” 

For more information, call Alston at 973-518-8338, email eastorangebronzeshields@gmail.com and follow the East Orange Bronze Shields on Instagram “@eastorangenjbronzeshields.”