Mayor Ras J. Baraka and Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose today announced an expansion of Citizen/Clergy Police Patrols at a press conference at the Faith Center Church at 998 South Orange Avenue. The patrols, part of Newark’s strategy to build community/police trust and engagement, partner Newark Police officers with local clergy members and citizens.
The clergy members, numbering nearly 100, represent a wide variety of faiths, including Catholics, Christians, Muslims, Jews and others. They all are active members of the city’s Clergy Alliance and will participate in the program between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight during scheduled ride-along trips.
“The strongest police civilian complaint review board in America, police/teen involvement programs, better police/community engagement training, citizen public safety satisfaction surveys, Community Compstat, regular police community meetings and this Citizen/Clergy Patrol have made Newark a national leader in building trust between the police and the communities they serve,” said Mayor Baraka.
The clergy will assist police in supporting individuals, families and crime victims by offering counseling and consolation as needed. These volunteers will also join police in making visits to victims, witnesses, hospitals, schools and by addressing other situations in which spiritual comfort may be welcomed.
Members of the Citizen/Clergy Patrol Program will be easily recognized now that their cars are donning a new yellow and white paint theme instead of the traditional Newark police black and white scheme.
“Partnering police officers with our city’s residents and religious leaders is an invaluable tool for building trust and strengthening community relations,” Director Ambrose said. “Seeing a clergy member in the vehicle will very likely encourage residents that their neighborhoods are being protected both by law enforcement and by spiritual re-enforcement.”
The clergy patrols were substantially diminished following police layoffs in 2010, which left few officers available for the ride-along program. Through the support of Mayor Baraka and the Municipal Council, the Newark Police Division has added over 100 new officers this year, with an additional 100 entering the police academy in 2017.