Last week, I joined with the 20 other New Jersey County Prosecutors to issue a statement about the tragic and deeply disturbing death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis, Minnesota police officers. In expressing our sympathy for Mr. Floyd’s family and friends, we emphasized our unequivocal commitment to fair treatment and equal justice for all residents of our state. I want to reiterate those sentiments and that commitment to fair treatment and equal justice for the residents of Bergen County who are my particular concern.
I also want to note the strong relationships that the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has forged with our law enforcement communities and the responsibility that our law enforcement agencies have at this time of unrest. Amid the current escalating tensions, we in law enforcement must be committed to doing all that we can to ensure the rights and safety of those who are peacefully demonstrating and of our communities. At the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, we have been meeting and communicating with police chiefs to remind them of the particular responsibilities their departments have to safeguard the rights of our residents and to keep the peace in accord with protecting those rights.
The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and other Bergen County law enforcement agencies have devoted much time and attention to building durable relationships with all of the diverse Bergen County communities that we serve and to keep open lines of communication with those communities. We need those lines of communication to stay open and vibrant through the present turbulence. We have also been meeting and communicating with the leaders of these communities for their advice on the needs of their communities and ensuring peaceful expressions of opinion.
I want to make sure that all residents of our county know what we have been doing over the last several years that relate to the issues surrounding George Floyd’s death and the subject of current demonstrations. As the chief law enforcement officer for Bergen County, I oversee 72 law enforcement agencies and approximately 3,000 police officers in the county, ensuring that they comply with all New Jersey law and Attorney General and Prosecutor’s Office policies and directives. My office also provides law enforcement training and support to these agencies and officers. We in Bergen County law enforcement take great pride in being at the forefront of reforms and initiatives for better policing and have implemented advanced policies and county-wide training as we have recognized the need to do so. These reforms and initiatives include annual and comprehensive instruction to law enforcement on the use of force; ongoing training on de-escalation techniques designed to prevent violence and save lives; and explicit and implicit bias training. We also partner with Care Plus NJ to provide intensive Crisis Intervention Training for police officers and mental health providers that has created a network of contacts across the county, also designed to de-escalate violent situations. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal witnessed the benefits of this training first-hand when he served as Bergen County Prosecutor. He took those observations and has incorporated some of what we do in Bergen County, like CIT training, into his “Excellence in Policing Initiative.” These statewide reforms are intended to promote a culture of professionalism, accountability, and transparency; thereby strengthening trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and all of Bergen County law enforcement condemn all forms of racism, prejudice and police brutality. I, as Prosecutor of this county, will be vigilant to ensure that all Bergen County law enforcement officers act with respect to resident rights, while faithfully keeping the peace. I assure all Bergen County residents that I will continue to exercise my oversight of Bergen County law enforcement to ensure fair and equal treatment and justice for all our residents.