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.

Coat Drive Underway Sponsored by SOPD Union, SO Rescue Squad and CC&J

The South Orange Police SOA and PBA, in partnership with the South Orange Rescue Squad and the Community Care and Justice Program (CC&J), have organized a coat drive and are now accepting donations of coats from local residents at select locations.

These organizations began accepting donations on January 15th at the following locations and will continue to do so until January 27th:

  • South Orange Rescue Squad (62 Sloan St., South Orange)
  • South Orange Police Station Lobby (201 W S Orange Ave, South Orange)
  • Volunteers will also be located at the South Orange Train Station during the morning and evening rush hours to assist with the collection of donations

The distribution date for the coats will be January 27, 2022, from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at the South Orange Rescue Squad, 62 Sloan St., in South Orange (next to Fire Station).

If you have a coat (or coats) you would like to donate, please do so at the above locations! If you are in need of a coat and would like to receive one, please come to the Rescue Squad on January 27th. All are welcome.

A flyer with details is also attached below. Please spread the word!

Local PBA Partners with Parenting Center on Food Drive

By South Orange PD

The Acting Chief of the South Orange Police Department, Captain Stephen Dolinac, has issued an official Commendation to PBA Local 12 and President Chris Chery for their generous donation to the Parenting Center food drive.

As noted in the Commendation, it was written “to extend many thanks and deep appreciation for the generosity of the entire PBA” for their donation of 26 turkeys to help provide Thanksgiving meals to local families in need.

The food drive on November 20th was a community-wide effort to provide Thanksgiving meals to local families, as well as share food via the new Community Fridge & Pantry in Maplewood. Several members of the PBA, as well as some Board of Ed members and Village Trustees showed up for the event.

Members of the PBA who participated were (left to right in the photo) P/O Darrell Terry, P/O Jose Albino, Sgt. John NIedzinski, P/O John Pak, Det. Miguel Hunt, P/O (& PBA Pres.) Chris Chery, P/O Dylan O’Connor, P/O Travis Cooper, P/O Mike Pannullo, P/O Jim Nugent. Members of the BOE present were Thair Joshua (President) and Chris Sabin. BOT members included Bob Zuckerman and Summer Jones, as well as Village President Sheena Collum.

Captain Dolinac notes that “Under the leadership of PBA President Chris Chery you have started a great partnership in this community that you can build upon to help many more families. I hope that this is only the beginning of the great things that you as PBA members can accomplish when you come together to benefit others.”

The entire Commendation is posted below.

Social Work Outreach Team Starts Accepting Referrals from SOPD, Rescue Squad

By Community Care & Justice Program

The Outreach Team of the Community Care & Justice program officially began receiving referrals from the South Orange Police Department and Rescue Squad on Monday, October 18. 

The Community Care & Justice program was initiated by South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and is a collaboration between the South Orange community, Seton Hall University and Essex County. The initiative seeks to “reimagine” traditional models of law enforcement through the larger lens of public safety and wellness with a greater emphasis on crisis prevention. To that end, Community Care & Justice seeks to engage the whole community – residents, first responders and newly hired social work professionals – in a more proactive, preventative, and collective approach to mental health and wellness and public health and safety. The program is led by Trustee Donna Coallier, chair of the Village’s Health and Public Safety Committee, and Dr. Juan Rios, Director of Seton Hall University’s Master of Social Work program.

Starting October 18, the Community Care & Justice Outreach Team is providing supportive counseling and case management services to community members impacted by issues such as mental health, substance use, domestic violence, sexual assault, homelessness and elder concerns. 

Once a referral is received from Village first responders, the social work team will outreach to the individual and/or family, conduct an assessment, and connect them with various supportive services and resources within South Orange and, more broadly, Essex County and the state. 

“We’re extremely excited to get started on this aspect of our community outreach,” said Kristin Miller, a professor in the Social Work Department at Seton Hall University and director of Outreach and Community Wellness for the Community Care & Justice program. “In many instances the police and rescue squad are called upon to address issues that present as acute and emergent, but are in many ways deep-seated, systemic and long-term. Issues such as mental health, substance use, homelessness, sexual assault and domestic violence are often better served by addressing these matters in a way that gets to the root of the problem and offers care and resources for underlying issues, not just currently manifest symptoms.” She continued, “Social work training provides us with the knowledge and expertise to more effectively address certain issues in the community. Our team will infuse social work values into our service to community members; these values include social justice, the importance of human relationships and the dignity and worth of each person.” 

In addition to Kristin Miller, LCSW and Assistant Director of Community Care & Justice Megan O’Brien, MSW, the Outreach Team includes three social work interns: Christina May (New York University), Monica Doliscat (Rutgers) and Krystal Halim from Seton Hall University. 

“In many ways, October 18 marks another beginning for Community Care & Justice after months of planning, focus groups and community outreach for needs assessment,” said Coallier. “The first iteration of our Social Justice Certificate program began at Seton Hall a few weeks ago. That program brings members of the community and surrounding communities together with police officers and credible messengers ‘to learn from each other and empower its participants as stakeholders and changemakers in search of social justice and equity.’ So, although the Outreach Team will initially consist of two part-time social workers and three interns and can focus solely on referrals from first responders, we plan on ultimately expanding our Team and these services and will eventually accept referrals from other organizations as well as community members themselves.”

Community Care & Justice Liaisons in South Orange Police Department and Rescue Squad

The program has the support of the South Orange Police Department as well as the Rescue Squad. 

Rescue Squad
Among the rescue squad, four members have volunteered to function as liaisons to the Community Care & Justice program and will function as a key partner to the program through referrals and support.  

Chief Victor Rothstein and Deputy Chief Annie Carman of the South Orange Rescue Squad will function as primary points of contact and liaisons for the Community Care & Justice program.

“The Rescue Squad is very excited to be a part of this outreach,” said South Orange Rescue Squad Chief Victor Rothstein. “What EMS offers patients is essentially a bandaid fix in most cases, a stabilization of acute illness and injury until we can get the patient to a hospital. Although our EMTs are considered some of the most capable in the state, many times patients need long term assistance that we do not and cannot provide. In fact, frequently we get called to individuals who don’t actually need medical attention per se, but still need some form of professional help or access to resources. In these cases, the social workers that the CC&J program provides will make more of a difference than any ambulance or hospital could. We have been hoping for a program like this for a very long time and the Community Care & Justice Outreach Team is major progress in ensuring the residents of South Orange can survive – and thrive.” 

Police Department
Among the South Orange Police Department, four officers have volunteered to be liaisons to the Community Care & Justice program and are expected to be instrumental in aligning the department with the Outreach Team through referrals, support and, if need be, assistance.  

The police officers who have volunteered to work with the Community Care & Justice program are: Lieutenant Ernesto Morillo; Sergeant John Niedzinski; Sergeant Richard Lombardi; and Captain Stephen Dolinac, who is Acting Chief of Police in South Orange. 

“The South Orange Police Department is exceedingly pleased to be a part of this program, which gives us the opportunity to partner with social workers and other dedicated community members and truly improve the services we deliver in ways that go beyond traditional law enforcement,” said Captain Dolinac. “Perhaps not surprisingly, the research to date on policing in this manner shows real efficacy.

 Simply put, we’ll be addressing systemic problems experienced by members of the community with systemic solutions. And we believe there are real savings to be had through utilizing this approach – savings in lives, quality of life – and resources.” He continued, “Ultimately, we’d like to get to the point where we’re able to pinpoint need and bring resources to our residents before crisis, especially for our youth.” 

Lieutenant Ernesto Morillo agreed, “This is a new day in policing and South Orange is prepared to meet these challenges if not lead the way. The overwhelming majority of our calls are not about ‘fighting crime,’ but about responding to crisis and ensuring the well-being of our community members. I have great faith that my officers meet these challenges with courtesy, professionalism and a commitment to serve and protect. But in order to do this job correctly – to serve the public well being in the best way possible – we need to use all of the tools at our disposal – and committed social workers and community interventions can be a highly effective tool for delivering the hope, help and resources that people need. He continued, “If contact with police is limited to enforcement and addressing conflict, then many in the community will view police as an oppressive force and not as the providers of what most of our interactions actually deal with, which is community caretaking.  Of course, officers will address conflict and enforcement as required, but we must do more to engage the community in a positive way and cultivate the trust that our citizens should have in us to take care of our community together.” 

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