Hoboken task force to review policing policies

Panel is composed of police, local officials, and residents

A new task force will review the Hoboken Police Department's policies and report findings in 90 days.
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A new task force will review the Hoboken Police Department's policies and report findings in 90 days.

The Hoboken Police Department’s use-of-force policies are now under review after Mayor Ravi Bhalla created a new policing policy task force by executive order on June 16.

The task force is composed of 11 people, including City Councilmembers Vanessa Falco, Emily Jabbour and the Chair of the Public Safety sub-committee Michael Russo; Hoboken Police Lieutenants Johnathan Butler and Steven Aguiar; Hoboken residents Agan Singh, Mariah Tarawally, and Christy Hoffman; NAACP and Hoboken Housing Authority Board member Jason Smith; retired Police Officer Edgardo Cruz; and a representative of the Hoboken public schools, Chris Munoz.

The task force will review use-of-force policies and other relevant practices in the police department, seek community feedback, and report findings publicly within 90 days as indicated in President Barack Obama’s “Commit to Action” pledge, which Mayor Bhalla signed on the morning of June 5 the same day as a protest against police brutality in which roughly 10,000 people attended.

8 Can’t Wait

In a press release regarding the new task force, Mayor Bhalla and Police Chief Ken Ferrante noted that the city’s “use of force” order already in place has established Hoboken as one of the few cities in the tri-state region to meet all eight Campaign Zero’s 8 Can’t Wait project, which highlights eight policies which police departments should follow to decrease police violence.

The eight policies include banning choke holds, requiring de-escalation, requiring warnings before shooting, exhausting all alternatives before shooting, duty to intervene, banning of shooting at moving vehicles, requiring use-of-force continuum, and the requirement of comprehensive reporting. The policies are already in place and have been  prior to Friday’s protest, according to the city.

“It’s an encouraging sign that mayors and police departments all across the country are committing to reviewing use-of-force policies, with the understanding that approaches such as community policing and de-escalation keep both our police officers and community safe,” Bhalla said.

“The Hoboken Police Department has set the standard for modern policing with no excessive force incidents in six years, and also with its continued community engagement in all areas of our city. I’m proud of Chief Ferrante and the members of our police department for working with this task force and finding even more ways to improve policing to serve and protect our residents.”

Ferrante said he is proud of the reforms the department has undertaken since he became chief of police in 2014, noting that they were done to “create a professional law enforcement agency, that as my mission statement points to, is one that is community sensitive to our crime victims, our residents, our government officials, our community leaders and groups, the media, and our own officers.”

“We continue to strive to network with all groups that live or visit our great city,” Ferrante said. “While our department has the impeccable record of not having paid out a penny in civil liability of any type in the past eight years, I support the formulation of this task force because we are always open to finding ways to become better!”

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.