Featured

Two New Workshops on Suicide Prevention by CC&J – Sign Up Today!

By Donna Coallier, South Orange Village Trustee and CPC Liaison

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and the South Orange Community Care & Justice Initiative is hosting 2 workshops:


1) Thursday, 9/16 at 7pm: Anxiety Management for Everchanging Normalcy – for youth 13 to 18 years old (parental/guardian registration required). For more information or to register for this workshop, please EMAIL kamarafullerton@gmail.com or use the flyer below to SCAN the code in your smartphone.


2) Tuesday, 9/21 at 7:30p: Talk Saves Lives; A Brief Introduction to Suicide Prevention – for adults. For more information EMAIL kristinmillerlcsw@gmail.com. You can REGISTER at this link: https://tsl921.attendease.com/

For more information, please see the flyers below. Do you know local young people who are feeling overwhelmed? In the current environment, our youth in particular could use anxiety management tools to elevate their wellness journeys. To that end, next week on 9/16, CC&J is holding a wellness workshop for our youth, age 13 to 18 (parental/guardian registration required for those under 18), led by Ibn Sharif Shakoor, who uses hip hop and creative content in wellness programs.


Please see the details and registration links in the flyers below, and help spread the word! Thank you!

Featured

South Orange Police Swear in First Female Sergeant

By SO Police Dept. and CPC Outreach

At the June 14th Board of Trustees meeting the Village of South Orange made it official: Sally Reaves is now the first woman to be appointed to the rank of Sergeant. At Police Headquarters Acting Police Chief Stephen Dolinac praised Sergeant Reaves’ work with several of her family members and fellow officers looking on. “As a front-line supervisor Sergeant Reaves takes on a position of enormous responsibility,” he said. Village President Sheena Collum then administered the oath after the Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution appointing her. Collum expressed her excitement and hope, saying that Reaves was a “testament to the type of officer we are proud to have in our department.”

Reaves, who has had an 18-year career as an officer, came to the South Orange department from the Orange Police Dept. in 2007. In an interview with OutreachCPC Sgt. Reaves told us that she began her career in 2003, having worked in the healthcare field for 13 years. The medical field took a strong emotional toll, but she wanted to pursue a career in helping others, so she chose to switch to law enforcement: “It was the best decision I could have made.” She notes that it has been an honor and a pleasure serving South Orange and “I could not have chosen a better town to work for.” She sees the Township growing in so many ways with new businesses opening up and new apartment buildings. She commented that she loves the family feel and family homes that make up a large part of the South Orange community and hope that we never lose that “home feeling.”

In answer to a question about youth and careers in law enforcement, Sgt. Reaves was very enthusiastic, saying that she “absolutely” encourages young people, especially women, to consider a law enforcement career. “We’ve had a really tough time the last few years, but I see things getting better after the murder conviction in the George Floyd case. A lot of people  became discouraged about starting a career in law enforcement because of all negative things that were happening. Now with all the changes in the laws, I see people applying for police officers jobs again. The key is trust, people need to know that they can trust the law and they will be treated fairly.”

We finished our interview with Sgt. Reaves noting that she loves her job and that she would not trade it for anything in the world. “I’m here for the people and I hope I can make a difference in the community.”

To watch the swearing in ceremony conducted at the Police headquarters in conjunction with the South Orange Board of Trustees meeting, please feel free to check out the video on YouTube.

Featured

Village Plans Virtual Forum and FAQ Re: New Cameras

By CPC Outreach Subcommittee

Donna Coallier, Village Trustee Liaison to the CPC has informed OutreachCPC that she met with the South Orange Police Department on Friday, May 7th and came away with a plan to do a virtual discussion forum to gather broader input from the community on the installation of new cameras as outlined in recent articles and announcements. She noted that the SOPD is also working on an FAQ document to help educate the community. Trustee Coallier is working on a date for the forum, so check back to OutreachCPC.org for the date. More information on the proposed installation of new cameras can be found in other posts on our website – check them out! If you have a comment or would like to offer a blog post as a member of the South Orange community, please contact us at cpcquestions@southorange.org.

SOPD, CC&J, Seton Hall and Others Join with Allan Houston’s FISLL Program

(Photo credit Alia C. Covel)

By Alia C. Covel (reprinted from TAPinto article dated 10/16/21)

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — NBA legend Allan Houston brought The FISLL Project to Seton Hall University  on Tuesday to continue the success of his foundation’s nationwide mentoring program.

SHU is a partner in South Orange’s Community Care and Justice Program, along with Essex County, and will utilize the mentoring program with youth from South Orange and Newark in conjunction with officers from the South Orange Police Department and the Newark Police Department.

Village Trustee and Health and Safety Committee Chair Donna Coallier moderated a panel of police officials, educators and an SHU student to speak about the importance of the project.

“FISLL and Allan Houston’s organization are 100 percent aligned with the values that are driving our Community Care and Justice Program,” Coallier told TAPinto SOMA. “This is launching a curriculum where our people and people from the city of Newark are going to learn about value-based decision-making and how to work together and create strength from those values.”

“Our goal is to amplify young people’s voices,” said panelist Dennis Carter, executive director of the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation. When their stories and struggles are heard, he said, “that’s what’s really going to make a difference.”

Two-time NBA Allstar Houston explained that he created FISLL in 2003 after speaking with his father — who coached Allan in college — about wanting to work on a project together to answer the question “what is our larger responsibility” after having achieved success on the court.

On a plane ride, he wrote down the five values that would become the foundation of the FISLL program: Faith, Integrity, Sacrifice, Leadership and Legacy. The project’s website says the program “can provide a foundation that enables young people to reach their full potential. Through a mentoring initiative, hands-on workshops, and our digital platform, the FISLL Project engages youth in guided dialogue and structured activities designed to build trust, teach valuable life skills, enhance spiritual growth, and defined success.”

Dr. Jamila Davis, Community Practitioner in Residence at SHU, is working on a companion curriculum to the program. The panelist noted that choice is important for students in keeping their interest and buoying their self-esteem. The program helps match the student with what their passions are. “When they tap into their talent, they tap into their confidence,” said Davis.

Panelist Lt. Ernesto Morillo of the South Orange Police Department said that the program is “an approach we can create together.” Morillo is the local lead for the FISLL program. Ten youths and 10 officers have already been selected, half from South Orange and half from Newark, and the cohort will have six virtual sessions, then a closing session on Nov. 30.

He also thanked the SOPD officers who came to the event to show their support: Det. Miguel Hunt, Lt. Eric Moore, and Ofc. Darrell Terry, Jr., who all grew up in South Orange; and Ofc. Niko Nasisi, a SHU alumnus who was hired by the SOPD just after graduation in 2019.

Houston was asked what advice he would give to local FISLL participants. “Show up, listen, and look,” he said. Showing up and being there is the first step in achieving anything, he said. One must be an active listener to learn, and look beyond what at first you think is possible.

South Orange to Host Newcomers Day on October 3rd – All Residents Welcome

by the Community Police Collaborative

Attention all South Orange Residents (old and new)! South Orange Village invites everyone to join them for their annual Newcomers Day on Sunday, October 3rd from 1:00 to 3:00 pm at the Duck Pond in South Orange.  You will be able to meet your new and old neighbors, spend time speaking with the the Village’s municipal departments and elected officials and sign up to volunteer for some amazing organizations and/or committees (like the CPC!).  The Village encourages all residents to bring their families, their neighbors, or bring a friend!  For social distancing and spacing purposes, all organizations will be set up around the perimeter of the Duck Pond.

Date: Sunday, October 3, 2021

Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Location:  The Skate House at Meadowland Park

Are you a Community Organization and/or Committee that would like to take part? Email the Community Relations Committee at crc@southorange.org

SOPD Commended and Thanked for their Heroic Actions During Hurricane Ida

By the Community Police Collaborative

In the aftermath of the Hurricane Ida, which hit South Orange and surrounding communities on September 1st and 2nd, the South Orange Police Department has issued commendations to personnel who went above and beyond the call of duty to save lives and help our community members survive the storm. Attached is a copy of the Commendation by Acting Chief Stephen Dolinac which lists the officers and personnel, as well as a description of some of their heroic efforts. Captain Dolinac notes that he is “relieved, gratified, and exceedingly proud of the work done by the people of the South Orange Police Department” and describes some examples of SOPD officers “going above and beyond the call of duty and putting their own lives on the line”. In addition to situations where officers literally swam to save occupants of stranded cars and also carried people on their backs to safety, there were countless examples of efforts by all personnel during and after the storm to deal with the overwhelming number of emergency calls. The Community Police Collaborative would like to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude for the heroism and dedication of our police department to help get us through this event without loss of life or major injury to civilians. Thank you!!

South Orange Moves Forward with Police Body Cams

By Annemarie Maini, CPC Member

On Monday, July 25th, South Orange Board of Trustees approved the purchase of Police Body Worn Cameras (BWC) using a grant from the New Jersey State Department of Law and Public Safety.  (Res #2021-220, Res #2021-217). The grant became available January 1, 2021 and South Orange received approval for the grant on June 28th.  

These South Orange resolutions comply with the November 2020 legislation (S-1163) that mandated all police departments to procure and implement BWC systems, and also create policies to address the implementation and use (A-4312). This was a long time in coming for New Jersey.  After the unnecessary and tragic death of Eric Garner in December 2015 that was captured on video, there was significant popular interest in using BWC as a tool to curtail this type of loss of life.  It is likely this was discussed in social justice circles much earlier as evidenced by a 2013 ACLU policy statement on BWC.  According to the Washington Post tracking called “Fatal Force,” 76 people have been killed by police in New Jersey since January 1, 2015.

In 2015 the Former NJ Acting Attorney General Hoffman provided a directive to police departments to create policies for if and when they implemented BWC.  Police departments and municipalities made independent decisions to invest in these devices in response to their local public concern and the Attorney General was providing guidelines for their use (Directive 2015-1). In 2018 Former Attorney General Grewal’s initial directives included the public release of video of deadly force, (Directive 2018-1).  In Winter 2019 he started the Excellence in Policing Initiatives that included initiatives and policies to promote a culture of professionalism, accountability and transparency.  (One of the outcomes of that work was the standardization and centralization of use of force reporting across the state that the CPC has used in previous presentations/columns.)

In early fall 2020 Former Attorney General Grewal surveyed NJ police departments and found that 45% of police departments had implemented some BWC system that included 12,200 cameras (for a ratio of 1:3 cameras to police officers.)  Upon releasing the results of that survey (unfortunately the link for the original survey results does not work), Former AG Grewal “applauded those communities that had implemented body cameras.  The need for accountability and transparency has never been greater.”  

After a few months S-1163 was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor mandating the use of BWC and A-4312 which regulates BWC use.  Upon signing the legislation in November, Governor Murphy pledged to find money to support municipalities in this important endeavor, and in December 2021 announced a grant program totaling $57.5 million to fund BWC systems.  That grant money became available January 1, 2021 and South Orange received the approval for the funding request on June 28, 2021 and resolved to spend it on July 25th.  The total amount of the grant for South Orange was $95,786.

As requested by the South Orange Board of Trustees, the CPC reviewed the policy manual for the Surveillance Cameras, and submitted recommendations to the BOT. As of August 10th the CPC has not received any feedback on the status of the recommendations, and we assume there will be additional work on reviewing the policy manual for the use of BWC.  In the original regulations (A-4312) there was a clause that prohibited police officers from reviewing the video footage prior to writing their reports.  Some have argued that this limits the ability of the reports to be accurate.  Legislation has now passed and is sitting on the Governor’s desk that would allow Police Officers to review their BWC video prior to writing their report, unless it involved a deadly incident.  This current legislation would also allow witnesses the right to view the footage prior to making their statement.  It will be interesting to see if Governor Murphy signs this legislation and then whether local municipalities, like South Orange, can create a stricter policy.  For example, having officers and witnesses provide an original report from memory and then allowing the officer/witnesses to amend their reports after viewing the video for accuracy.

Village Seeks Community Input and Pauses Camera Purchases

By Donna Coallier, South Orange Village Trustee and CPC Liaison

South Orange elected officials are working with the South Orange Police Department (SOPD), Village administrative team, and the South Orange Community Policy Collaborative (CPC) to review SOPD policy on how the Village Digital Video System (DVS) is used in police operations. To give us time to share further information regarding our DVS practices and explore additional constituent input, we have paused DVS equipment purchases. 

We welcome and encourage your input to help us in our review – please take some time to review the SOPD DVS FAQ page, and, plan to join our Village-wide discussion on this topic at 7p on July 21. There, you will learn more about how and why we use the Digital Video System and some of the benefits, risks and trade-offs associated with their use. We’ll also use breakout sessions to gather your feedback on three topics: 1) any additional questions you’d like to see covered on our FAQ page; 2) your views and concerns, if any, on how we deploy the Village DVS; and 3) your Village DVS policy suggestions. 

If you are unable to attend the live session, or simply want to get a head start on providing feedback, please visit the FAQ page and submit your input using the links below when you have free time to do so.

Thank you very much for your time and interest in this important topic. Once we collect your submissions, we will sort them and share a summary of your input, which we will consider as we move forward in the Board of Trustee DVS policy review process. 

Village calendar entry – access the WebEx meeting link here: https://www.southorange.org/Calendar.aspx?EID=3800&month=7&year=2021&day=16&calType=0  

FAQ page link: https://www.southorange.org/838/Digital-Video-System

Constituent feedback form link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSec8QBMJFxGc8VTFEZR34xDzgtRm89oJkVtTOkF0iordTYqrg/viewform?usp=sf_link

Community Care & Justice Program Wants Your Input!

Link to Survey: https://shu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ehxgoE9G0FmPaxU

By Donna Coallier, South Orange Village Trustee and CPC Liaison

South Orange is partnering with Essex County and Seton Hall University to create and launch a social work pilot called the Community Care & Justice Program. The CC&J mission: to engage community members in designing and traveling their own wellness journeys, with a particular focus on protecting and elevating our most vulnerable and our youth. CC&J might include 911 Diversion, Restorative Practice Councils, Dialogue on How To Be An Anti-Racist, Community and First Responder Mental Health Awareness Training and more.

We have launched a survey to help identify CC&J priorities and we need your eyes and ears and input!

What values should drive our program? Where do you see a need for social work? How can we empower our community members to improve their mental health and wellness? How can we supplement Village law enforcement services to improve public safety in our community? Please help us to with these questions and more by completing the survey at the link below. And, thank you in advance for your commitment to CC&J.

Link to Survey: https://shu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ehxgoE9G0FmPaxU

Village Provides FAQs and Community Forum about the Digital Video System

By Donna Coallier, South Orange Village Trustee and CPC Liaison

In response to questions from the community about Village plans to upgrade the Digital Video System (DVS) and related policy for its use, we have provided an in-depth FAQ on the a SOPD web page, which can be reached at this link: https://www.southorange.org/838/Digital-Video-System. In addition, we will be conducting a virtual Village-wide discussion on this topic at 7p on July 21. 

We welcome and encourage input from our constituents as we continue our policy review – please take some time to review the FAQs posted on the SOPD web page, stay tuned for more information, and plan to join a virtual forum on July 21.

LETTER: South Orange Posts FAQs on Police Video Camera System, to Host Meeting July 21

Written By Donna Coallier, South Orange Village Trustee  (originally published in Village Green, June 27, 2021)

To the editors:

As has been shared and discussed in Village public meetings and on social media, South Orange  elected officials, in collaboration with the South Orange Police Department (SOPD), Village administrative team, and the South Orange Community Policy Collaborative (CPC), are in the  process of reviewing SOPD policy surrounding how the Village Digital Video System (DVS) is  used in police operations. Our DVS is a combination of hardwired and wireless video systems  and is used by our Village for public safety purposes. 

DVS equipment is purchased through the Village capital budget and procurement process. In the fall, each department compiles their operating and capital budget requests which are  reviewed and modified by the Village Administrator. Capital budget requests related to DVS equipment are submitted by the Information Technology and Police Departments. The Administrator then prepares a Capital Budget for broader review. We encourage constituent awareness and participation in this process through a series of public meetings in which capital outlays are presented to the South Orange Board of Trustees (BOT) and various committees. After capital budget approval and pricing vetting has occurred, a resolution must be prepared  and approved by the Board of Trustees before the purchase is executed. These last steps  occurred in October 2020 (resolution) and April 2021 (payment) for cameras that were  approved in the 2020 capital budget.  

Over the course of these meetings, many of our residents have expressed concerns with respect to the Village DVS and how it is deployed. At this point, to give us time to share further information regarding our DVS practices and explore additional constituent input, DVS equipment purchases have been paused. Once constituent input is gathered and analyzed along with relevant research and data, the BOT will complete its Village DVS policy review and recommend any needed policy changes. Progress to date includes the following: 

  • SOPD public outreach through the CPC to share information on how the DVS is used,  related SOPD policy, and the SOPD process to establish their policy;  
  • BOT CPC outreach, asking for help in identifying best practices and policies related to DVS use. Subcommittee findings have been presented to the public and we hope to  receive the formal recommendations of the full CPC soon; and 
  • Compilation of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the SOPD web page to address  questions we’ve heard in public forums and more, which is now available at this link:  https://www.southorange.org/838/Digital-Video-System

While our law enforcement professionals have used cameras in public safety operations since the mid-1980s, with technology advances the inherent risks and trade-offs in their use have come into sharper focus. Policy development necessarily must account for associated risks such as privacy concerns, data security, and the bias that exists when artificial intelligence is used to analyze footage.

We welcome and encourage your input as we continue our policy review – please take some time to review the FAQs posted on the SOPD web page, stay tuned for more  information, and plan to join a virtual Village-wide discussion on this topic at 7:00 p.m. on July 21.